From 13–17 June, the UK will mark Men’s Health Week, which is hosted annually by the Men’s Health Forum. The campaign aims to raise awareness of physical and mental health issues that disproportionally affect men.
The theme for this year’s campaign is #ManMOT, which encourages more men to look after their health and wellbeing. In the UK:
- men are 43% more likely to die from cancer
- three quarters of premature deaths from heart disease are in men
- 75% of suicides are carried out by men, with men aged 45–49 the most at-risk group
- every 45 minutes, one man dies from prostate cancer
If you have been affected by or are living with anything discussed in this article, we have included further information about support services and suicide risk. We hope that by starting these conversations around men’s health, colleagues across RSK can feel supported and heard.
We asked two colleagues at RSK what #ManMOT means to them and why they feel it is important for their fellow men to look after their health and wellbeing.
Luke Stokoe-Moores, Apprentice Finance Assistant at RSK group
Men often overlook their own wellbeing in favour of those they care about, such as their family, or on account of their commitments at work. Owing to historical and cultural stereotypes, men often feel their purpose is to provide financial stability for their family. And while these stereotypes are changing, the pressures still exist and can lead to poor mental health. I’ve spoken to numerous men living with this who, not wanting to burden their families, keep their problems to themselves or find unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as alcohol or gambling.
By talking to loved ones, taking time away from work when needed and, crucially, speaking to a medical professional, we can make sure that we maintain positive wellbeing for ourselves and our families. There is nothing ‘weak’ about having a mental health condition or not feeling quite yourself but there is a risk in not getting support, which is made clear by the statistics above.
If you believe or have reason to believe a colleague is struggling with their mental health or may be suicidal, talk to them, even though this is a sensitive subject to deal with. Ask them how they are doing and direct them to organisations that can support them. Remember, people don’t have to tell you anything, but asking them if they’re ok shows them they’re not on their own. If you’re really concerned about someone, talk to your line manager or HR representative. Suicide isn’t something that many want to talk about but the statistics are worryingly high, especially for men – the risk is three times as great as it is for women. If we fail to treat mental health with the same seriousness as we treat physical health, we will continue to see lives lost: but it is preventable.
Once signs of a mental health issue have been identified by the individual, friend or family member, it is important that support is sought. Speaking to a GP is often an extremely useful but daunting step; however, the earlier medical support is reached, the easier the condition will be to treat. The NHS also offers drop-in centres for mental health support. The mobile app Hub of Hope is extremely useful for local support centres for specific mental health conditions. These can be easily accessible and have more of a community approach. At RSK, employees have access to private mental health support through Able Futures, the details of which can be found on the Wellbeing page on the intranet.
And if everything is getting too much and you feel unable to carry on, Samaritans can be reached on 116123, which is a 24/7 phone line, or you can email firstname.lastname@example.org. There is always someone ready to talk to and someone who cares.
Everyone deserves to have good mental health, and by taking some small steps, the same as we would take for our physical health, we can ensure we have the highest quality of life possible.
Chris Williams, Asset Management Consultant at Binnies UK
I’m old! And with that joyous realisation comes a little wisdom. When I was young, I knew I was indestructible, so I felt I didn’t need to eat healthily, watch my weight and alcohol consumption or even visit the doctor. Exercise – no time for that with work, childcare, etc. Flash forward a few decades and I had high blood pressure, high cholesterol, gallstones, ‘knackered’ shoulders, type-2 diabetes and a lot of stress and very poor sleep. All this impacted my performance at work and in my home life – lethargy, listlessness and depression.
Thankfully, things have moved on a lot since “I were a lad” and there’s lots of information and advice around. Companies have recognised the benefits of helping/encouraging employees to look after themselves and I particularly enjoy things like Movember and the recent #RSKSteps challenge. For me, it was the kick-start I needed to get back on my fitness journey – I’m doing 30 minutes of exercise in the morning three times a week (when I can) and moderating my carbohydrate and alcohol intake.
I’ve also got round to getting medical assessments for a variety of ailments I’ve allowed to go unchecked for too long (don’t take no for an answer – my sister only got a diagnosis for thyroid cancer because she battled away and argued with the medical professionals and chased up on scan results).
So, I’d encourage everyone, old or young, to not only do whatever they can to adopt a healthier lifestyle – every little bit helps – but also to get an annual #ManMOT. You do it for your car because you don’t want it breaking down when you least want it to, so surely the same applies to your own health?
And if you don’t do it for yourself, then do it for your partner, family and friends – they want you to stick around. Personally, I’m aiming to hang around to see the first probe reach the Proxima Centauri star system!
Further information, support and resources about the health and wellbeing issues raised by Luke and Chris is available here:
- SHOUT – Text 85258 for free 24/7 mental health support
- Mental health A–Z gives information on a range of mental health topics
- Prostate cancer support from Prostate Cancer UK
- Movember offers support for male health concerns, such as testicular and prostate cancer, as well as mental health support and suicide prevention
- LGBT foundation provides support with mental health and other concerns if you identify as LGBTQ+