November is Men's Health Awareness Month. Did you know that globally, men die on average 5 years earlier than women, and for reasons that are largely preventable. Which means that it doesn’t have to be that way: we can all take action to live healthier, happier and longer lives.
There are many things that we can do to take action and prevent premature deaths in men. The men's charity, Movember, has become one of the largest and most well known charities to support mens well being, from mental health support to helping raise awareness of prostate and testicular cancer. Their website is filled to the brim with advice, knowledge and challenges to complete in order to support them.
With this incredible charity in mind, we thought it would be a great time to share some of the advice from their website. Your health is the most important thing in life, mental and physical. So many men suffer with mental health issues on their own or play down physical health concerns, putting off going to see a doctor. It's important that we encourage men to seek help when they need it, rather than allowing them to suffer in silence. How can we take action? Here are Movember's top 5 things to know and do:
1. Spend time with people who make you feel good.
Stay connected. Your mates are important and spending time with them is good for you. Catch up regularly, check in and make time.
2. Talk, More.
You don't need to be an expert and you don't have to be the sole solution, but being there for someone, listening and giving your time can be life-saving.
3. Know the numbers.
At 50, talk to your doctor about prostate cancer and whether it's right for you to have a PSA test. If yo are of African or Caribbean descent or have a father or brother with prostate cancer, you should be having this conversation at 45. Know your numbers, know your risk, talk to your doctor.
4. Know thy nuts. Simple.
Get to know what's normal for your testicles. Give them a check regularly and go to the doctor if something doesn't feel right.
5. Move, more.
Add more activity to your day. Do more of what makes you feel good. Take a walking meeting. Park further away from the station. Get off the bus a stop or two earlier. Instead of taking the lift, take the stairs. Cycle to work instead of driving.
It is important that we are there to support our mates. It is equally as important as being able to ask for help when you need it. If you have no idea how you can provide support to your fellow guys, use ALEC; four simple steps to help you navigate a conversation with a friend who might be going through a tough time and need your help.
A - Ask.
Start by asking how he’s feeling. It’s worth mentioning any changes you’ve picked up on. Maybe he’s spending more time at the bar, has gone quiet in the group chat, or isn’t turning up to social events. Whatever it is, he’s just not himself.
Use a prompt like, "You haven’t seemed yourself lately – are you feeling OK?"
Trust your instinct. Remember, people often say "I'm fine" when they’re not, so don't be afraid to ask twice.
You can use something specific you’ve noticed, like, "It’s just that you haven’t been replying to my texts, and that’s not like you."
L - Listen.
Give him your full attention. Let him know you’re hearing what he’s saying and you’re not judging. You don’t have to diagnose problems or offer solutions, but asking questions lets him know you’re listening.
Ask a question like,
"That can't be easy – how long have you felt this way?"
E - Encourage Action.
Help him focus on simple things that might improve how he feels. Is he getting enough sleep? Is he exercising and eating well? Maybe there’s something that’s helped him in the past – it’s worth asking.
Suggest that he share how he’s feeling with others he trusts. This will make things easier for both of you. And if he’s felt low for more than two weeks, suggest that he chat to his doctor.
C - Check In.
Suggest you catch up soon – in person if you can. If you can’t manage a meet-up, make time for a call, or drop him a message. This helps to show that you care; plus, you’ll get a feel for whether he’s feeling any better.
You can’t fix someone else’s problems, but you can be there for them. Sometimes listening is the most helpful thing you can do. You won’t make things worse by asking someone how they’re doing. Keep in mind that it’s always worth preparing yourself before you start the conversation.
Men sometimes aren’t comfortable reaching out and opening up about life’s challenges – or they think they’ll be burdening their friends if they do.
If someone you care about seems to be going through a tough time (which many of us are in the current climate of COVID-19), they might not talk about it even if they want to. The first step in looking out for them is reaching out.
If you are unsure what to talk about, Movember have an incredibly useful tool called 'Movember Converations' which helps to provide the confidence to have conversations with the men in your life who might be struggling.
You can find it here: https://conversations.movember.com/en-gb/
We hope you found this information helpful, there is much more available on the Movember website, which this has been sourced from. If you are suffering, or notice a friend who is not quite themselves, it is always best to reach out to people. Be there for your friends and don't be afraid to ask for help if you are struggling. It's easier said than done, but hopefully this information will help make that easier.