Today is International Men’s Day, which is marked and celebrated around the world. One of the main UK themes for the Day this year is ‘Making a positive difference to the well-being and lives of men and boys.’
International Men’s Day is, therefore, a valuable opportunity to raise awareness of and address key issues affecting boys and men. It is also an important occasion to remind the community of and signpost services and resources available locally.
To this effect, an informative leaflet titled ‘Healthy Men’ has been produced. It will be readily available at the Primary Care Centre and will also be available on the GHA website www.gha.gi.
Some of the issues outlined in the leaflet affect both men and women. However, there are a number of physical health issues that exclusively affect men. These include testicular, prostate and penile cancer and it is important to remind men of the need for regular self-examination and to encourage them to seek advice from their GP in the first instance should they have any health concerns. In the UK, over half of people who are currently adults under the age of 65 years will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lifetime. Early detection is therefore a crucial first action to prevent disease. Patients whose cancer is detected early on possess a higher chance of cured disease, complete recovery, increased quality of life and longevity.
Mental health is another vital component of men’s general well-being. Global research shows that cultural norms and traditional gender roles can hamper or prevent men from seeking help for their mental health problems. Men are less likely to talk about their feelings, ask for help from friends, family and GPs, and are less likely to access specialist mental health support. This is particularly the case for men in middle age groups. The consequence of this is that globally, men are two times more likely than women to die by suicide and they are more likely to resort to using drugs and alcohol to cope with anxiety.
The situation is no different in Gibraltar. Minister for Health and Care, Samantha Sacramento, has commissioned a detailed review of all suicides in Gibraltar since 2016. This will include a thorough audit of the care and treatment provided. The aim of this work is to further strengthen efforts to help prevent suicide in Gibraltar and all the findings will form the basis of a suicide prevention strategy.
Minister for Health and Care, Samantha Sacramento, said: “International Men’s Day, which takes place annually on the 19th November and which, therefore, falls significantly in the middle of what is now often and colloquially called ‘Movember’, is a prime opportunity to promote awareness of key physical and mental health challenges facing boys and men in our community. It is also more importantly an opportunity to highlight the existing provision and services available in Gibraltar that can support boys and men. We can all play a role in making a positive difference to the well-being and lives of men and boys. Informing them of and encouraging them to access services is a crucial first step in the promotion of physical and mental health.”