This November, as we enter the tail end of a tumultuous year, it’s time to take a moment.
It is time, as organisations and leaders pay particular attention to our people before the holiday season and 2021 preparations, to do what we can to ensure they are healthy, both mentally and physically.
In our business, November is often a peak time – when demand for our health services increases as the healthy balance of many Australian workers tips into the negative.
People are tired, New Year’s resolutions are a distant memory, and unhealthy behaviours have crept in – drinking, reduced sleep, dropping exercise – all in the rush toward the end of the calendar year.
At APM, our data tells us men are more likely than women to become seriously injured or ill.
60% of our injured or ill clients are male and they are 10% more likely than women to present with more than one condition (co-morbidity).
Our experience aligns with Safe Work Australia data, that tells us men are far more likely than women to be injured in the workplace.
Our data also tells us with older men (those 45+), most of the injury or illnesses involve chronic conditions.
Again, this aligns with the broader experience of our society – undetected or poorly managed disease in Australian men translates to them having, on average, almost five years less ‘healthy life’ than women.
Also, in Australia, men under 75 are twice as likely as women to die from preventable causes.
Tragically, men make up an average six out of every eight suicides - the number of men who die by suicide in Australia every year is nearly double the national road toll.
Many men are not seeking help
While 60% of our injured or ill clients are male, we see the opposite when it comes to our early intervention and prevention services.
For example, Assure’s Employee Assistance Program - designed to provide early, rapid support to maximise psychological wellbeing - we see only 36% of our clients are male.
Research shows us many men are more likely to take a ‘She’ll be right’ approach.
Instead of seeking help early, they self-monitor their health status for longer and try to find their own solutions before reaching out to a health service.
In comparison to women, Australian men’s GP consultations are shorter, they will see the GP later during their illness, and are more likely to leave significant health issues unattended.
Major health conditions affecting men
The most prevalent chronic health conditions for men are:
- Mental health conditions
- Back pain
- Cardiovascular Disease
Major risk factors for these conditions include modifiable behaviours. In other words, they are (at least in part) preventable or manageable.
These behaviours include physical inactivity and poor nutrition, smoking, risky alcohol consumption and illicit drug use.
APM WorkCare General Manager Philip Paysden on Men's Health Month...
What can organisations and leaders do?
1. Make it easy for men to get help.
In a world of competing demands and a stereotypical attitude of not seeking help, we must make good help and advice more relevant and accessible.
There are plenty of free resources available, in addition to online and phone-based services.
2. Be a role model and encourage behaviours that promote good health and wellbeing.
Leaders need to show that it is acceptable to take time off, prioritise good health, and seek help with their health.
3. November is a critical time to focus on health
Use this month to change up some of your workplace activities.
Turn meetings into walking meetings, swap Friday night drinks for a healthy activity (perhaps a team bike ride or gym class, cooking lessons, frisbee in the park), or set a team challenge.
4. Movember is an outstanding way to promote and support Men’s Health and have some fun.
Check out their website for some fantastic workplace ideas and tools, and join the Mo growing activity to raise funds and awareness for mental health and suicide prevention, prostate cancer and testicular cancer.
5. Did you know Thursday 19 November is International Men’s Day?
This year’s theme is Better Health for Men and Boys and is a great day to highlight the challenges facing men’s health in your industry and in daily life.
Find advice on topics and ideas for events at internationalmensday.com.
6. Take time in November to consider your workplace safety initiatives and where they can be improved.
Audit your injury and illness statistics. (If you aren’t sure, APM can share trends associated with your industry).
Focus efforts on preventative programs that address the root causes of conditions most affecting your team – be they physical, psychological or cultural.
7. Recognise the signs and risk factors associated with poor mental health and help your team members understand these.
Remember to be clear on your approach and strategy when it comes to supporting the mental health of your team – there is some good advice here from Assure Programs on the steps you can take.