Call for Connection in Men’s Health Week
On average, nine Australians kill themselves every day. Seven of them are men.
This year’s Men’s Health Week is all about nurturing connections for change.
In 2019, more than 3,300 people died by suicide across the country, 75% of whom were men. It remains the leading cause of death among Australians aged 15 to 44.
Dr Neil Hall of the Center for Male Health at Western Sydney University said it’s especially important during the coronavirus pandemic that men and boys connect with family, community and culture.
“Connection with family is a primary protective factor for good mental health and well-being,” he said.
“A simple conversation with friends can be the start of something positive.
“It can be by hosting an event to raise awareness, picking up a loved one’s phone, or sharing resources and information.”
Dr Hall, who has been an academic in social work for more than 20 years, said he was witnessing a “generational shift” of younger men coming forward for help.
He said a recent survey of teenagers in Sydney found half are not uncomfortable talking about their feelings and that one in five reported mental health issues, a figure consistent to the entire population.
“One of the things that we are starting to see, the stigma associated with mental health issues is decreasing,” he said.
“Over the past five years, the number of men’s community support groups has exploded.
“We estimate there are 300 across the country, whereas ten years ago there were maybe ten.”
However, he said there was a lack of male-specific mental health funding from the government, including in the May federal budget.
“A lot of money, rightly so, has been invested in mental health and suicide prevention,” he said.
“But not once in the suicide prevention literature have men been specifically mentioned. This must be an oversight, given that 75 percent of all suicides are men.”
The Australian Men’s Shed Association wants men to “meet up” with their friends this Men’s Health Week, which begins on Monday.
“You are never too old to gain something from having a group of friends – whether they’re there forever and a day, or whether they’re new connections,” said CEO David Helmers.
“The empirical evidence is clear. Social participation is positively related to mental well-being and quality of life, especially among older people.”
Lifeline 13 11 14
beyond blue 1300 22 4636