Everyone – men, families, communities, service providers and policy makers – is being urged to ‘be part of the solution’ and to take action to improve the health of men and boys on the island of Ireland by ‘restoring the balance’ after COVID-19. That’s the message from the Men’s Health Forum in Ireland (MHFI) as International Men’s Health Week begins. 

Running from Monday, June 15, to Sunday, June 21 (Father’s Day), this annual celebration aims to raise awareness of preventable health problems, support men and boys to live healthier lives, and encourage them to seek help or treatment early. 

Colin Fowler, Director of Operations for the Men’s Health Forum in Ireland, said: “Coronavirus has had an impact at many levels. Individuals across Ireland are trying to re-build their physical health, emotional resilience, relationships, jobs, finances, connections and routines.

“There is a need to find some new form of equilibrium – at least in the short-term. Throughout Men’s Health Week, everyone is asked to ‘be part of the solution’ and to do what they can – no matter how small – to help to restore some balance and stability. Rarely has this been more needed.”

The organisers of Men’s Health Week are calling on everyone to work to create the right environment – as well as opportunities – to improve the health of local males. They have also offered ideas on how to support the week in their ‘Toolbox for Action’, which can be found at: https://www.mhfi.org/mhw2020toolbox.pdf 

Men and boys can get involved in the week by making the time to read the free ‘Man Manual’ (which can be downloaded at: www.mhfi.org/challenges2020.pdf), and undertaking one or more of the 10 practical and realistic challenges issued within it. This booklet comes with a simple warning: ‘Reading this Manual can seriously improve your health!’ 

Although a lot of progress has been made in recent years to improve men’s health across the island of Ireland, difficulties still remain. These include: 

 Local men die, on average, almost four years younger than women do. 

 Poor lifestyles (including smoking, drinking, diet and lack of exercise) are responsible for a high proportion of chronic diseases. 

 Males have higher death rates than women for almost all of the leading causes of death, and at all ages. 

 Men’s mental health needs are often not recognised or met. 

 Late presentation to health services leads to a large number of problems becoming untreatable … 

‘If men are offered positive choices, and given the encouragement and opportunities they need, they will succeed in living a healthier life’

Michael Lynch, Chairperson of the Men’s Health Forum in Ireland said: “The past few months have shown us the best side of males – when the vast majority have answered the call and did their bit to ‘flatten the curve’, offered practical help to others, home-schooled their children, strengthened community spirit, showed positive leadership, helped to keep essential services running, and protected the vulnerable people around them. During Men’s Health Week, we should celebrate this contribution. 

“Men’s health is not just an issue for individual men. Health can be determined by other factors outside of men’s personal control. Thus, there is a need for policymakers, service providers and society as a whole to recognise the role they need to play. In our experience, if men are offered positive choices, and given the encouragement and opportunities they need, they will succeed in living a healthier life.” 

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