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International Men’s Health Week 2020 | Supported by the CIF
June 15th marks the beginning of International Men’s Health week.
This year, the theme suggested by Men’s Health Forum in Ireland is ‘Restoring the Balance’.
Although men fare better than women in most conventional measures, such as jobs and earnings, this advantage is not reflected in their health (British Medical Journal, 2011).
For many health experts, the public debate on men’s health tends to be dominated by negative portrayal of men not attending health services and taking unnecessary risks with their health. The MHFI would like to see a more constructive dialogue that focuses on the supports offered to men in order to:
- identify the key concerns in relation to men’s health.
- increase understanding of these issues.
- address the impact of this inequality.
There are various key organisations that are supporting men’s health. In this post, we will highlight as many resources as possible. From the 15th until the 19th, the CIF will focus on the physical health of men’s health. The following week, we will focus on mental health and well-being for all workers and on other aspects of occupational health and safety in construction.
What can employers do for staff?
The industry shut down impacted us all. Some were more impacted than others and many will struggle to adjust to the industry re-opening. For this reason, employer support is more vital than ever. Families might be adjusting to this change and it’s important that we support fathers who are more engaged than ever and want to re-balance the burden of care in the home.
The CIF is dedicated to supporting our members and their staff. As such, we teamed up with Laya Healthcare and Spectrum Health to offer ‘Build Health’. The team have created a mental health support programme that includes:
- Free telephone support helpline.
- Video Counselling.
- Access to mental health resources.
- Up to 6 free counselling sessions.
This low cost, but vital service is available to our members at a discount of up to €933.50. CIF members can choose from the packages combining seminars, workshops and training as an additional or standalone service – all available in the workplace and delivered remotely via video link. The team in Spectrum Health have created a ‘Tip Sheet’ for some short, sharp tips to help men improve their health and well being. For more information on this offering, please visit the Build Health page.
Men and Covid-19
A webinar shining a light on the effect of Covid-19 on men was hosted by Noel Richardson, director for the National Centre of Men’s Health in Ireland. Noel interviewed Dr. Alan White, Emeritus professor of men’s health. The webinar was recorded and can be viewed below. The Covid-19 pandemic is having a major impact on men. While there is a broadly similar incidence and prevalence rate to women, men: are faster at developing serious illness; recover slower from the virus; have a higher death rate. There is also a broad range of mental health and social impacts upon men and the wider community which are a cause for concern.
Heart Health – have you got the balance right?
According to Spectrum Health, heart disease is Ireland’s leading cause of death, with much of this being preventable? So much of the way we live our life puts stress on our most important muscle – physical inactivity, smoking, drinking too much and stress to name but a few. Taking a look at our lifestyle, a real critique of how we live, might just be needed. Perhaps now is the time for an MOT with your doctor and check your blood pressure checked. People with high blood pressure may be twice as likely to die from COVID-19 if they contract the virus, compared to people without hypertension, a new study by cardiology experts at NUI Galway and a research team from China has suggested. Even without the threat of a pandemic, good heart health is a good start on the road to overall health. To learn more about all things heart health related, visit the Irish Heart Foundation.
Cancer Prevention – its about creating balance
In a recent survey, the Irish Cancer Society found that almost one in four (23%) of skin cancer deaths in Ireland are from the construction, outdoor and farming industry. Skin cancer is the most common cancer in Ireland with over 11,000 new cases diagnosed in 2015. The National Cancer Registry of Ireland (NCRI) expects this number to double by 2040. The CIF partnered with the Irish Cancer Society to help construction workers understand the risks. You can view the leaflet here.
The main cause of skin cancer is harmful ultra violet (UV) rays from the sun. UV rays can be harmful from April to September, from 11 am in the morning until 3 pm in the afternoon. UV rays can be present on both sunny as well as cool and cloudy days.
Whether it is sunny or cloudy, it’s important to protect your skin from April to September as you cannot see or feel the UV rays which cause damage to the skin. Up to 90% of UV rays can get through light cloud and it doesn’t have to be a warm and sunny day for dangerous UV rays to be present. Even on cool days UV levels can be high enough to damage skin. For more information, please visit the Irish Cancer Society website.
Did you know:
- Nine out of ten cases are caused by the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays and can be prevented.
- Up to 90% of UV rays can pass through light clouds, so it’s important to take care on cloudy Irish days too.
- A tan or sunburn may go away but the damage to you skin remains. It builds up every year and can lead to skin cancer later in life
Quit Smoking – Restore the body’s balance
Committing to anything can be a challenge but smoking is one of those habits that we all struggle with. However, the benefits of quitting are huge – not just for your health, but financially too! With the help of the HSE, almost 7,000 people have successfully kicked the habit. Based on the HSE calculator, someone smoking 20 cigarettes per day, could stand to make some significant savings by quitting!
Smoking is a risk factor for acute respiratory infections like flu. People who smoke are more likely to get flu and are more likely to have a worse infection than people who don’t smoke. Even though coronavirus is a new virus, it’s becoming clear that smoking is a risk factor for coronavirus infection too. And just like flu, a coronavirus infection may be more severe in people who smoke.
Quitting smoking has many benefits (listed here) and helps build your natural resistance to all types of infections including coronavirus. When you stop, the natural hairs in your airways (cilia) begin to work again. Within 1 to 2 days the oxygen levels in your body will improve. Your blood pressure and pulse reduces, which in turn decreases the overall stress on your body. All these things are good defences against coronavirus.
Click here to get your ‘Quit Plan’ from the HSE.
Rethinking Your Drinking Habits – get the balance right
In 2019, Drink Aware commissioned a survey to get to the heart of our drinking habits. The research found that 44% of those surveyed drink alcohol at least once per week. Close to one in five (19%) Irish drinkers report consumption of seven or more standard drinks on a typical day of drinking, i.e. exceeding binge drinking levels.
Most Irish drinkers are complacent about their alcohol consumption levels with 84% stating that they do not think they drink to excess. They also appear relatively comfortable with the notion of sometimes drinking to excess. A large percentage (70%) agree, to a greater or lesser extent, with the idea that drinking to excess is a ‘part of Irish culture’, while half believe that drinking to excess at some stage is ‘no big deal’.
The lockdown has not slowed us down either. While the pubs are closed, we are still consuming alcohol, but now it is from the comfort of our homes with off licences and supermarkets seeing an increase in sales of 44% compared to 2019. “Stress can be a big trigger for drinking. Combine that with the added pressures and boredom of lockdown, and it’s not surprising we might find ourselves reaching for a drink more often,” says Dr Richard Piper, chief executive of Alcohol Change UK.
So what can we do to find the balance? There are plenty of resources online to help you reduce your consumption – or simply educate yourself on the hidden dangers of alcohol. Drink Aware is a good starting point. Sober Spring (from Alcohol Change UK), also feature some posts on their website which offer some insights.