Every year Men’s Health Week coincides with Father’s Day, as celebrated in the UK and USA. This year the world celebrates Men’s Health Week between 14th to 20th June and the theme is ‘Men, Mental Health & Covid-19 – what’s next?’
Everyone’s mental health has been challenged by the lockdowns and insecurities of the last year and and it is not over. As we emerge from what we hope will be the worst of the pandemic, questions, concerns and anxieties remain on how to move forward.
Even before the pandemic, men’s mental health was a cause for concern. There is a grave disparity in the high number of men who die from suicide and the low number of men who seek treatment for depression, anxiety and other mental health challenges.
During the pandemic, children and young people have been disproportionately affected by the lockdowns; and there is a considerable rise in youth unemployment. Home schooling has hit boys and young men at school and university, especially from BAME backgrounds.
Particular groups of male-dominated workforces have suffered disproportionately in terms of income and some (taxi drivers, for example) have received little support from government to compensate for this loss. Men are more likely to be in the sort of jobs, which cannot easily be done from home, with the result that many male-dominated workforces are also at greater risk from Covid-19.
The aim this year is to engage with all men, but especially younger men (and boys), men at work and men dealing with bereavement, as well as, all the UK’s parliaments and assemblies – Westminster, the Welsh Senedd and the Scottish Assembly will all be sitting during Men’s Health Week this year. An enquiry is needed to understand why the UK has one of poorest international records when it comes to preventing Covid deaths – but we also need action now. This is the ideal time to launch a men’s health strategy.
In conjunction with this year’s theme, Men’s Health Week has launched the ‘can do’ challenge. The aim of this is to try one of the following tried and tested ways to feel better right now:
Connect – Feeling close to, and valued by, other people. Some ideas to help feel more connected:
- Talk to someone rather than texting or emailing
- Talk to someone new or someone you have not spoken to for a while
- Ask someone something about themselves that you don’t know
- Join a club or group
Be Active – Taking part in regular physical activity:
- Take stairs, not the lift
- Get off the train or bus a stop earlier
- Do stretching exercises
- Do an activity (e.g. cycling or swimming) that you have not tried for a while
- Combine being active with connecting: e.g. sports
Take Notice – Being aware of what is taking place in the present:
- Look up at the sky rather than down at the pavement
- Take a different route on a familiar journey
- Go somewhere new for lunch
- Spend time in parks, forests and at the seaside
Learn – Continuing to learn throughout life:
- Sign up for a class
- Read a book or do some puzzles
- Research something you are curious about
- Take up a language or musical instrument
- Learn a practical skill (e.g. how to fix your bike)
Give – Participating in social and community life:
- Volunteer for a charity or community group
- Visit an elderly relative or neighbour
- Do someone a favour
- Smile and say thanks
For an easy way to remember the five ways, try CAN DO: C(onnect), A(ctive), N(otice) and D(iscover) and O(ffer).
For further information, visit the Men’s Health Forum web-site at https://www.menshealthforum.org.uk/mhw