This week (13-19 June) is national Men’s Health Week and this year the focus is on mental health and beating stress. Here in Leeds, there’s a #Dadtastic day of free family fun at Leeds City Museum on Father’s Day and some sports and gardening events held by Age UK Leeds.
To kick-off Men’s Health Week in Leeds we have the launch of a report by Leeds Beckett University which looks at the specific health and social issues of the male population in Leeds. Leeds is the first city in the UK to do this, and you can read a copy of the summary booklet here, the main report here
In today’s blog the authors of the report (Professor Alan White, Dr Amanda Seims and Rob Newton) tell us about some of their main findings, why men’s health matters and how it can be made better.
In Men’s Health Week it’s a great opportunity to think about what we can do to improve the health and wellbeing of our 368,000 boys and men in Leeds. With one five male deaths occurring before the age of 65, and more than three quarters of people who take their own life being male, improving the health of men is really important. Men’s health matters and men’s health can be better.
Across nearly all causes of death that should affect men and women equally, men in Leeds are more likely to die at a younger age than women. The majority of men’s health problems are preventable and linked to risk factors from unhealthy lifestyles. We see this most often in poorer areas of Leeds, which means that a man’s health is very much influenced by where he lives, what qualifications his education and how much money he earns.
The leading causes of men dying young are cancer, cardiovascular disease and respiratory problems. For men under 75, the death rate from cardiovascular disease is double that of women. Improving how many men smoke, their diet, their levels of physical activity and their alcohol consumption would make a real impact on our city’s health. We need to encourage our men to access support services to tackle their health issues. How can our employers, schools, health services, communities, cultures and friendships make a difference here?
One of the most striking and saddest differences between men and women is suicide rates. In Leeds, the suicide rate is five times greater for men than it is for women. The rate for men is increasing and the costs to society, friends and families are huge. We need to make it easier for men to talk about their mental health and suicidal thoughts, because many of those who die have not even made contact with local health and social care services or spoken about their problems with friends and family.
It’s easy to paint a picture of problems when looking at men’s health, but there is lots of good work being done for boys and men in Leeds. We discovered many great stories in our research, such as the holistic care provided by York Street Health Practice, the peer support through Leeds Dads and the skills and jobs clubs at New Wortley Community Centre.
To make a difference, we need to build on the assets in men’s lives. Our education, employment, families and friendships families and friendships are all really important parts of being healthy and happy. And we have to remember everyone is different. We know that men and women make different choices and access services in different ways, and of course all the 368,000 males in Leeds are different! Health and wellbeing services need to be person-centred, treating people as individuals, and understand all the things in people’s lives which may influence their health.
You can read the summary of our 12 month research project in this report here and attend Monday’s launch event here. Have a read and during men’s health week think about what makes you healthy, or any of the men and boys you know. Men’s health matters and men’s health can be better!