Residents across the Western NSW Local Health District are being urged to turn their attention to men in their local communities during International Mens’ Health Week (13th-19th June), to have a down-to-earth conversation about health and wellbeing.
Western NSW LHD Men’s Health Coordinator Andrew Whale said International Men’s Week is a perfect opportunity to initiate open and honest dialogue about health issues that men may otherwise ignore.
“The overall attitude of health towards for men is changing and we as a health system need to encourage and support this” said Mr Whale.
“On average, men die six years earlier than women in Australia, which indicates vast room for improvement in the way we monitor and maintain our health. This issue is particularly concerning in regional and remote communities.”
Recent studies reveal that men living in remote parts of the state are more likely to die prematurely, are more commonly admitted to hospital for preventable conditions, and are more likely to commit suicide.
“I am working closely with a number of healthcare agencies to ensure there is sufficient access to services for men in our Health District and to advocate for their specific needs,” said Mr Whale.
“Having grown up on a farm and now working in a predominantly female-dominated industry as a nurse, I have a strong passion for improving men’s health in regional areas. One of our most successful programs so far is MERV (Men’s Educational Rural Van), which is a portable and accessible health resource for men right across the area.”
Some of the most prevalent health conditions for men include cardiovascular disease, cancer (particularly prostate and bowel), and a range of mental illnesses.
The Western NSW LHD is striving to tailor appropriate healthcare models for men across the region and has appointed a second Men’s Health Coordinator specialising in Aboriginal Health, Mr Paul Elbourne.
Mr Elbourne said Aboriginal men are particularly susceptible to experiencing poor health and wellbeing.
“It’s a startling reality that life expectancy for Aboriginal men is 18.9 years less than non-Aboriginal Men. We are now addressing this problem as a priority,” said Mr Elbourne.
“I am of Aboriginal descent, from the Wiradjuri people, and have worked in the health industry for more than 11-years. While it is truly heartbreaking to see health issues afflicting our people, I have also witnessed considerable advancements in health care over time.
“With continued education and dialogue about men’s health issues, we can start to reverse these damaging trends. International Men’s Week is a perfect opportunity to do so and I encourage everyone to get involved,” said Mr Elbourne.