Men’s business a secret no longer

Posted 21 August 2013

“If we are serious about engaging men and boys in programs and campaigns to improve their health, we need to look at how they each live their lives as individuals, because the current one size fits all messages aren’t good enough.” -Professor  John  Macdonald  - international men's health expert 

For Men’s Health Week this year, Community STaR/CHETRE along with other service organisations hosted the first South West Sydney Men’s Health Forum at the Liverpool PCYC. The forum featured international men’s health expert, Professor John Macdonald who presented on a social determinants approach to tackling men’s health issues by building on the strengths of men and creating inclusive, suitable and accessible environments.

A World cafe facilitated discussion technique framed by the social determinants of health allowed participants to talk about issues and solutions in groups covering: Aboriginal men, culturally and linguistically diverse men, older men, unemployment and young men.

The findings point to wider education in the community about Men’s health issues such as: breaking down the stigmas towards minority groups and building the capacity of disenfranchised men, educating employers and all services to create male-friendly practices that positively reinforce men’s strengths and build confidence, increased funding for facilities and educational programs that encourage socially isolated men to get involved and recognising previous skills for employment.

Men’s health is about wellness, not just illness and understanding the vast complexity of men’s health needs and valuing life stories is an important tool for building trust and engagement. The social determinants of health exert a significant impact on men’s ability to live quality lives and achieve their full potential. Furthermore intersectoral action is needed to address mens health issues, especially in improving the outcomes of disadvantaged men in the community.

Events such as the South West Sydney Men’s Health forum that continue the Men’s Health discourse will enable services to understand emerging issues and furthermore be an effective means of addressing men’s health inequities for future years to come.