Men’s Health Week 2022

Sam Cooper is Health and Wellbeing Lead at NGP. He shares his thoughts on the importance of talking about men’s health in light of Men’s Health Week 2022. This year, Men’s Health Week ran from 13 June – 17 June.

Why do we have a week that focuses on men’s health?

We firstly need to consider a well-documented public health concern. Men do not engage enough with their physical and mental health and wellbeing.

For instance, in the UK, cancer, suicide, diabetes and heart disease are all recognised as major public health concerns. Research indicates the male demographic in the UK are far more likely to fall victim to many of these health trends – despite being the least likely demographic to seek help within our society.

Now, with this in mind, there is something even more harrowing to consider. The biggest risk to a man’s life is actually themselves.

We know that men are experiencing unprecedented levels of poor mental health. What compounds this is the fact that they aren’t seeking support. This must change.

The question is, why?

But why aren’t men in the UK taking a more proactive approach with their health? And why aren’t they reaching out to professional services when they need it? This is where the importance of the ‘Men’s Health Week’ campaign becomes clear.

Even in our progressive society, most men feel they are inherently expected to exhibit and embody behaviours which are historically and generationally aligned to their gender: Masculinity, Aggression, Strength, Reliability, Provider, Resilient, Power

These expectations can be both internally and externally driven. However, what’s clear is that men aren’t allowing themselves the freedom or capacity to acknowledge a harsh reality. The reality that they can’t be all of those things, all of the time.

This is perpetuated by wider society. Colloquial terms such as: “Man up!” feed the notion that men should observe a gender norm. This completely disregards the nature of being human altogether, because we all have physical and mental health conditions which should prioritise in order to thrive.

These factors have led to widespread stigmatisation for men. They feed the notion that men are somehow weaker for acknowledging their health. They also prevent men from taking steps to improve their health by engaging with support where needed.

Engaging colleagues at Northern Gas and Power

This week we’ve been working in tandem with Newcastle United Football Club and Foundation, engaging our colleagues in the discussion around men’s health and wellbeing misconceptions. At NGP, we hope to drive change by encouraging dialogue and support.

Josh Banyard, NUFC Foundation Ambassador and public speaker, shared with our colleagues his own powerful example of lived experience in overcoming adversity and stigma in order to not only save his own life, but also better the lives of other men across the UK by campaigning for change.

If you know someone who needs help and isn’t seeking it, start a conversation immediately. It’s okay not to be okay.

For more information and resources, or to get involved visit: https://www.menshealthforum.org.uk/mhw.

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