International Men’s Day was commemorated this week and presents an opportunity to recognise the positives that men bring to the world. It is also a good time to remind ourselves that research shows that where health is concerned, men do less well than women.
Men have a shorter life expectancy and are more likely to die from heart disease, be overweight and suffer from mental health issues, including higher suicide rates.
Despite these facts, men still appear less inclined to seek help or professional advice.
Given this backdrop, how do employers ensure that any health and wellbeing initiatives are utilised by as many employees as possible? When looking at this, it helps to understand some of the challenges.
According to the National Pharmacy Association, 90% of men said they didn’t want to trouble their GP unless they felt they had a serious problem. This is backed up by the statistics around GP usage with UK men visiting their GP 4 times per year compared to women’s 6 visits.
Another reason for this reluctance to seek help with their health is that men see it as a “feminine” issue. Media targeting women often combine health and beauty into one topic, suggesting that to be beautiful, you must be healthy. This can easily make men feel that it doesn’t affect them or might exclude them.
Introducing and promoting workplace health initiatives can help tackle these issues. For example, GP helplines available 24/7, supply services on-demand with a degree of anonymity, making it easier for men to discuss sensitive issues which are more uncomfortable face to face.