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Men’s Health Week: What are the biggest issues facing young men today?

9th – 15th June was Men’s Health Week, led by the Men’s Health Forum (UK). This year’s theme was work, including stress and unemployment – something that is likely to be particularly prevalent for students and recent graduates.

With 11% of men who graduated in 2012 unemployed a year after completion of their course (according to The Independent, July 2013), we spoke to the charity to see what particular issues they have identified as being the biggest cause of stress for young men today.

The Men’s Health Forum’s Untold Problems report believes that “men as a sex face specific emotional and mental difficulties that society commonly misunderstands.” These issues include drug and alcohol dependency, school failure, suicide risk and involvement in crime, and together they conspire to make it “immensely challenging to engage men in a dialogue that encourages them to ask themselves whether they should be seeking help.”

The stats are difficult to deny: almost three quarters of people who kill themselves are men. 73% of adults who “go missing” are men. Men are three times more likely than women to become alcohol dependent (6% vs. 2%), and are more than twice as likely to use Class A drugs (4.8% vs. 2%). 79% of drug-related deaths occur in men, they make up 94% of the prison population, and nearly all children permanently excluded from school are male. 72% of male prisoners suffer from two or more mental disorders, and men are also twice as likely to be victims of violent crime.

The report throws up a wide-ranging and deep-rooted set of problems that are specific to men, from relationships to job satisfaction to alcohol abuse – all of which are, of course, interlinked.

Education

It’s well known that boys are less likely to go to university than girls (32% of state-educated women are in Higher Education at the age of 19 compared to 25% of men). The report confirms that this is a particular problem for both white and Afro-Caribbean boys from poorer families, who “are doing particularly badly” and are “the least likely to be represented in HE.” The comparatively low attainment is seen in secondary school: white males have 30% below average attainment at GCSE, whilst for young Caribbean men it is 33%.

The report suggests that this may be because “boys feel compelled to conform to a

dominant view of masculinity which conceptualises academic work as ‘feminine’, and that ‘anti-school subcultures’ exist among boys from the most marginalised backgrounds - in which ‘specific forms of masculinity’ are manifested, in particular, by disruptive behaviour in class.”

Alcohol and drugs

Untold Problem states that “Male alcohol problems in particular may be under-considered. It is believed that up to 800,000 men may be alcohol dependent… in the minds of some men, drinking alcohol in quantity functions as a marker of masculine status.”

If this suggestion is representative of your own university experience, it’s hardly surprising. A 2006 study by the Mental Health Foundation found men more likely than women to use alcohol in order to be able to “fit in socially” - potentially suggesting that, “for whatever the reason, men do find membership of a social community more difficult to achieve than women.”

Drug use is more common in men than women - 26% of men aged 16–24 reported using cannabis in the previous year compared to 16% of women. Young men are more than twice as likely (11% vs. 6%) to have used class A drugs. Maybe unsurprisingly in light of this, men made up 79% of 1,573 drug-related deaths in 2008.

Why are young men turning to drugs so much more than women? There are doubtless a number of multifaceted reasons, but Untold Problems cites a Samaritans study from 1999 which found that “depressed young men were 10 times more likely (than women) to say that they would turn to drugs as a means of coping with distress.”

Relationships

The general consensus that men hide their problems whilst women are much more likely to talk about them is true – and it’s likely that it is affecting men’s health and happiness.

A survey by Mind in 2009 found that 29% of men compared to 53% of women would discuss issues with friends if unhappy, whilst 31% compared to 47% of women would talk to their families.

And why is this? Are men really less close to their friends or family than women, or is it more complex than that?

Untold Problems cities a US study from 2000, which “found men much less likely than women to report intimate best friendships (23.5% of female friendships scored very highly on the scale, compared to only 7.5% of male friendships).” This is despite the fact that both men and women reported a strong desire for intimacy within their friendships.

The study suggests that this lack of perceived closeness within male friendships “has obvious consequences for the availability of emotional support and encouragement to seek help.”

Suicide

Untold Problems notes that male suicide is “the most widely acknowledged of male mental health problems” and that it has in recent years “attracted public debate and coverage in the popular media.”

Suicide is a particular problem men aged 16-24, and “there are obvious links between suicide and depression, and a number of authorities have suggested that depression may be under-diagnosed in men” - possibly because men are less likely to ask for help than women.

Students are particularly vulnerable, according to Men’s Health Forum Head of Policy David Wilkins, because of exam pressures coupled with the sudden loss of support system experienced on leaving home.

Job satisfaction

Predictably, good mental health is inextricably tied to happiness at work – and the failure of a job to provide satisfaction “may predispose the individual to anxiety and depression.”

Whilst unemployment (and most men will experience this at some point in their lives, if not directly after graduation) brings its own emotional turmoil, a study from the Health and Safety Executive in 2004 found that men were less likely to receive emotional support from peers and managers and were less likely to have their role understood by others – whilst having higher levels of demand placed on them than women. All these factors were associated with the development of work-related stress.

Add to this the fact that men in the UK work the longest hours in Europe, that 27% of men with full-time jobs in the UK work more than 45 hours a week (and 11% more than 60 hours), and it’s easy to get a picture of why work might place more of a strain on men’s lives than they’re willing to talk about.

So, what can be done about all of this? Although the Men’s Health Forum admits that it didn’t set out to provide solutions with Untold Problems, it does some offer some solutions as to why the above issues are so prevalent.

The report says: “men often have mental health needs that are distinct from those of women and which are particularly associated with the lived experience of being male. Some of these needs are not being met as effectively as they might.

“This situation is compounded by the fact that in some circumstances some of the familiar cultural markers of masculinity are also potential symptoms of, or predisposing factors for, poor mental health. Many of these behaviours are so familiar that they seem indisputably “normal” even though it is easy to see that they are sometimes simultaneously damaging.”

It cites traditional gender roles that cause “families, peer groups, and many public and commercial institutions treat male and female children differently” as the reason why boys and girls develop different attitudes and behaviours, causing “particular social constructions of masculinity and femininity, which remain locked into our culture.”

Lack of emotional expressiveness, the propensity to “act out” emotional distress, and a reduced willingness to admit vulnerability are all behaviours that cause health issues in adult men. “Encouraging boys to become more sensitive to their own emotional needs,” says the report, “and the emotional needs of those around them will not solve all the problems but it has the potential to help considerably.”

It also suggests that improving the mental health of men should not just be a function of mental health services, and that there are “good arguments” in favour a national strategy for men’s mental – something that has already been called for by the Men’s Health Forum in 2006 and Mind in 2009.

Phillip Hodson, Chief Spokesperson for the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, says: “We must urgently look beyond masculine stereotypes to understand the mental health needs of contemporary males… men are half as likely as women to be diagnosed with depression yet three times more likely to kill themselves because of it.”

This statistic, surely, is one that needs to be challenged – and quickly.

If you’re worried about your mental health, visit one of the below websites for help and advice:

https://www.thecalmzone.net/

http://www.samaritans.org/

http://www.cwmt.org.uk/

http://www.menshealthforum.org.uk/

by Lucy Miller - http://www.thenationalstudent.com/Features/2014-06-10/Mens_Health_Week_What_are_the_biggest_issues_facing_young_men_today.html#.U5cij-MNBR4.twitter

Men’s health

Over the weekend I have been having a few conversations around the current ‘selfie with no makeup’ facebook explosion to support research into breast cancer.

It is great that social media can now spread causes so quickly and potentially generate donations to increase research. Part of the conversation was around what men could do to support this both as sons, brothers and fathers but also around our own health issues.

The last post on the website was asking for men to take part in a survey around how we look after our own health, which has been the motivation around HisBiz. At times we are not great at asking for help or support. In general men wait much longer to visit a gp than women.

I have definitely seen more awareness being raised for guys with the likes of Movember which supports both mental health and cancer. I suppose you also notice what you notice when you look for media around men’s health.

In June there is a men’s health week which looks to remind men to get themselves checked out and think about lifestyle and health. A few years back we held a men’s health pit stop which was good. Is there any ideas out there around how you would get more involved in looking after yourself? Do you have any ideas around how you could show your support for those fighting cancer or other health issues?

Or could you just fill in the survey for a start?

www.surveymonkey.com/s/KW2FT7C

Are you engaged?

Engaged people are less stressed, happier and more interested in what they do! No – I’m not talking about engagement in the marital sense, but rather in the sense of being there in the moment.

A recent article in Gallup Management Journal stated disengagement can be depressing in a workplace and that better engagement means better health. What’s concerning is that research is indicating 8 to 17 per cent of people in the workplace are disengaged. A true concern for any employer!

The recent economic struggles added to the issue, with many disengaged staff choosing to stay put rather than face the difficult and worrying task of finding other employment. Stagnation then becomes as difficult as staff turn over. This may now be changing as signs in the labour market in some areas are changing.

Disengaged staff can have a negative impact on your business, wider than just their own contribution. There continues to be strong links between engagement and key organisational outcomes. I mean if you’re running a customer focused business, but your staff ‘can’t be bothered’ making sales or talking to clients – that’s not good for business!

Signs of disengagement and depression can often be similar. These can include feeling empty or tired, having a lack of interest, energy or concentration, poor or lack of decision making and generally not being bothered.

The challenge is becomes even greater when the manager/owner/leader is feeling disengaged. How do they find ways to get back to having a greater bond with the workplace? Workplaces should not only be fun and engaging for staff, but for the managers/owners/leaders as well. This can be hard work when no one is helping them to engage.

There’s no magic answer to resolve engagement issues. Sometimes it’s right for people to move on. Other times it’s about creating or finding the challenge to keep people engaged. Here are a few simple ways to keep workplaces engaging:
 take time to listen to those around you
 give and receive feedback
 set out clear plans and a future focus
 outline your personal development/training ideas and do them
 have conversations about high performance and what this means for your business
 understand what makes teams and individuals tick
 have some fun!

GIMMIE FIVE

Media Release
31st October 2013

A completely new way to tackle depression in New Zealand from the guys that brought you the World’s Biggest Waterslide, Live More Awesome.

The Live More Awesome Foundation is proud to announce the launch of their new depression initiative.

It works like this…sign up to donate $5 every month, you then get to vote on which of the five “gives” you want to see happen. All “gives” are Live More Awesome style events or initiatives to help reduce depression, decrease stress or simply make NZ a happier place. The “give” that gets the most votes each month wins and becomes a reality. You can then volunteer to help make it happen, or, you can just sit back and wait for us to send you the monthly update newsletter that will contain the video of all the good work that your $5 did! You’ll be so proud of yourself, and us, you’ll share that video with all your friends and get them to sign up, therefore providing more money to do amazing things the month after! Didn’t like any of the five things on the list? Suggest your own! If it’s good, we’ll put it in the next vote.
Co Founder Jimi Hunt says…
“We needed a way to get people involved in giving again, to help them feel like they were making a difference. With Gimmie Five, they are. Not only do they get a say in exactly where it goes, but they can actually suggest ideas for the future as well as volunteer their own time.”

With depression affecting as many as 1 in 5 New Zealanders at any one time, this is an issue that needs to not only be approached in a fun and interesting way, but it needs to be talked about constantly in order to remove the stigma of depression in this country.

Gimmie Five went live on the 1st of November.

— End —

For more information on Live More Awesome & Gimmie Five see –

Gimmie Five: http://www.gimmiefive.co.nz
Live More Awesome: http://www.livemoreawesome.com
Click here for more information on depression.
LMA Jimi & Dan PR Image: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/6440746/LMA_PR_image.jpg

For all media enquiries including interviews please contact:

Jimi Hunt (Co Founder)
jimi@livemoreawesome.com
021 020 29618


About The Live More Awesome Foundation:
Live More Awesome is an initiative Jimi and Dan came up over a late lunch one day.

The “Live More Awesome Foundation” is a New Zealand based not for profit formed in 2012 and is a charity that survives like many others on love. We get no funding from the government or any foundations.

Our Mission is to develop a series of programmes & tools to help as many people as we can to “Live More Awesome” lives and subsequently beat depression and improve the mental health of the nation.

Initiatives:
1. Develop a “30 Days To Live More Awesome” programme website and material. Actual practical steps for people to start doing to improve their depression without drugs.
2. Release a book showing people who are looking after people with depression how to cope.
3. Raise as much awareness about “Asking For Help” and removing the stigma from depression as possible by throwing amazing events.
4. Develop a programme that puts vegetable gardens into every school in the country.
5. Host the World’s first Mental Wellness event.
6. Implement our “Gratitude in schools” programme
6. Continue being awesome. Inspiration then information.


About Jimi Hunt:
Jimi Hunt is a man who has spent most of his life doing ridiculous things for his own amusement. Things like building the World’s Biggest Waterslide, playing golf through the streets of downtown Auckland and holding an alternative summer Olympics including events such as sandcastle building and frisbee golf.

But what none of his friends knew was that Jimi had been silently battling with depression. It was eating him alive from the inside, affecting his business, losing him friends and slowly, painfully destroying his marriage.

Disillusioned with the help and advice he received, he read that having a goal could help with depression. Five minutes later Jimi set his goal and announced it to the world — he would travel the entire 425km length of the Waikato River on an inflatable mattress. Loneliness, 21,000 people following the journey on Facebook, chancing upon a dead body in the river, unbridled kindness from strangers, physical pain and crazy psychic predictions are just some of the strange tales from the river.

About Dan Drupsteen:
Dan has a passion for seeing the upmost potential in others and sparking people to do what they love. He believes that learning to be happy with what you have while working towards your dreams is fundamental to a fulfilling life.

“Having experienced psychosis, adrenal fatigue, anxiety, panic attacks and depression and come out the other side, I have a firm belief that everything is possible. Inspiring others by how I choose to live is my upmost mission in life.

I’m a crazy haphazard experimenter and meticulous researcher. And I love creating new ideas” says Drupsteen.

Situations vacant?

How did you get your last job? Was it via seek or trade me (online job sites), a tip from someone you know, personal networks or by knocking on doors and handing out your cv?

Thousands of people are looking for work each day. What has been the most effective way for you to get your first, next or greatest job?

If you are an employer what are the top things you are looking for and what ways do people approach you? Are you looking for people right now? What would make your life easier around recruiting?

About me

HisBiz is about connecting the business and wellbeing worlds to support prosperous, healthy futures for Kiwi men. It's time to stand up and do something. It's time to put men's wellbeing back in the spotlight.

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