Movember and Men’s Health at Workplace (The Guardian : 14/11/2017)

Men are often known to be indifferent towards their health – many don’t talk, don’t take action and will only go the doctor when they are extremely sick – skipping preventive screenings. As a result, awareness of men’s health issues can lag significantly behind. That is where Movember – the mustache movement comes in.

Movember is an annual event involving the growing of mustaches during the month of November to raise awareness of men’s health issues, such as prostate cancer, testicular cancer, poor mental health and physical inactivity in addition to top men’s health issues such as Heart Disease, stroke, and Type 2 Diabetes.

But showing support for men’s health and wellbeing goes farther than growing a mustache. Some of the most dangerous and high-risk industries are male-dominated. Traditional norms around masculinity and work can also increase the risk of dangerous practices. Men are also prone to high levels of stress and substance abuse. Workplaces can play a pivotal role in creating and supporting programs that help the workforce stay healthy inside and out.

Although men are more likely than women to get regular exercise, chronic illnesses such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, stroke, and depression are top killers affecting men at higher rates than women. Many of these issues are exacerbated by lifestyle factors that are unavoidable in some work environments; long periods of sitting, stress, unhealthy eating and smoking/drinking all contribute to increased risk for developing one or more of these.

Many studies have shown the link between male depression and increased risk of health disorders such as cardiovascular diseases and diabetes and men are twice as likely as women to respond to these negative feelings with harmful behaviors such as alcohol or drug abuse.

Whereas women are likely to seek help for physical or mental health concerns, men tend to wait until the situation is critical. In recent years, we are increasingly witnessing that a shift from the male being the breadwinner with a wife at home has given way to dual career couples with greater equality between both sexes in most industries.   However, men are invariably seen as investing more time at work than women do and tend to feel more isolated from home life – work-life balance applies to men as well.

An open and communicative workplace culture is essential to helping men ask help for any concern, from stress from workloads or depression due to lack of balance between work and home life. Workplaces need to promote to men that it is okay to admit that something is wrong. Men need networks to work to feel connected to what they are doing and those around them.


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Bhakti Shah, MPH is the Founder and Managing Director of ImpactAfya Ltd, collaborating with Workplace Options and Mayo Clinic, USA to provide Corporate Wellness and EAP Solutions in East Africa. Bhakti is also the Advisor for the Africa Business Portal and the Past President of the American Chamber of Commerce in Tanzania.


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