Merriam-Webster definition of Male: An individual of the sex that is typically capable of producing small, usually motile gametes (such as sperm or spermatozoa) which fertilise the eggs of a female.

We all know that the males in our lives are more than that; they are our fathers, sons, husbands, partners, brothers and mates. They play an important role in all of our lives far broader and wider than described by the dictionary definition. Who remembers learning to play sport with our father cheering us on? We know the joys and sometimes pain of having a brother. For some of us reading this, we remember the love and occasionally the frustration experienced with our partners and we swell in the joy of holding and nurturing our sons. Males are more than a definition, they are important in all times of life and have roles both in our personal life, work and business.

But how healthy are the men in our lives?

Sadly, we also know that males die from suicide over three times more often than females, in fact, every single day men will, on average, make up six out of the eight suicides (Beyond Blue). We also know that it is estimated that in 2019, 78,081 males will be diagnosed with cancer in comparison to 66,632 females (Cancer Australia). In Australia, in 2014-2015, 71% of adult males are overweight or obese while 56% of women are either overweight or obese. Rates of cardiovascular disease demonstrate that men are 1.4 times more likely to die from cardiovascular disease than women (AIHW). Men are twice as likely to be risky alcohol consumers (defined as an average of three or more drinks per day) than women (SA Health). Young boys account for 72% of children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and are less likely to access formal support than girls (Australian Men’s Health Forum). So, when we think of our partners, sons, brothers, husbands, and mates what can we do to support them to stay in our life as important loved healthy men?

Father’s Day is just around the corner. Reach out to all the men in your life and encourage them to chat with their doctor and discuss how best to improve their health. Together we can encourage better health and wellbeing. Prompt your important male in your life to check in with their general practitioner for a health check-up. Our General Practitioners are a first point of call for all men.

Naturally, we want all of our male GPs to seek help to stay well and fit. In 2013 Beyond Blue released a report titled ‘National Mental Health Survey of Doctors and Medical Students’ which found that our doctors are not immune to mental health issues. In fact, medical practitioners reported substantially higher rates of psychological distress and suicidal thoughts compared to both the Australian population and other Australians. Being a doctor does not make you immune from illness. We know that general practitioners are very good at caring for others but often not so good at caring for themselves.

We need to be brave enough to ask if they are ok. R U OK Day is on 12 September, we need to reach out to all, ask if they are ok, listen to the answer, and encourage action. Together we can make a plan to seek help and remember to check in with them afterwards. By taking small steps of caring for each other we can make a groundswell of caring and change in the world.

After all, the males in our life are precious and we need to ensure they stay fit and healthy! Use Father’s Day and R U OK Day as a way to connect with our loved men. Be brave and challenge them to improve their health even if the only reason they will do that is for us!

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