Health In Numbers

A post for Men’s Health Week

I mentioned in my previous post that, here in the UK, it is Men’s Health Week from 10th to 16th June. I’m not sure if this applies elsewhere but, as the week is organised by the Men’s Health Forum (MHF) – which is a British organisation – I’m guessing maybe it is just us. But if you aren’t from the UK don’t stop reading now: the issue of men’s health is equally valid everywhere.

For this year’s event the MHF is focusing on numbers. Their website shares a number of frightening statistics, some of which I’ll be covering here. They have produced a series of posters which are intended to be displayed in health centres and workplaces, and these make sobering reading. There is a ‘summary’ poster, which is this one:

That doesn’t cover the full set of numbers the MHF are highlighting, but you can see very quickly from it that there are many things we men should be taking better care of. I’m probably typical, in that I need to pay much more attention to my physical health. I am moving home shortly, but once that has settled down I’ll be seeing the dietician at the local hospital to get some advice on improving my diet. Initial contact has been made and they are due to call me after I move to fix an appointment. That will only be the start of it, though, as I know I need to do much more.

One of the other posters tells us of the number 20:

As if I needed any further warning about that, I got it in tragic and dramatic fashion yesterday. Justin Edinburgh, the manager of one of the three football teams I support – Leyton Orient – suffered a cardiac arrest last Monday and passed away yesterday. He had just led the club to probably its most successful season ever, and was looking forward to taking us back into the English Football League. He had just returned from watching one of the clubs he used to play for – Tottenham Hotspur, another of my three – play in the Champions League final, and had been to the local gym with his wife.  He was fit, took good care of himself in a stressful job, and had everything to look forward to. Justin was 49. If you ever needed a reminder of the fragility of life, and of the validity of the MHF’s statistic, there it is.

Those life expectancy figures are a little scary for me. One in five of us men dies before reaching 65 (or even 50, in Justin’s case), and two in five before reaching 75. I’m comfortably in that range, and I know I need to take much better care of myself. Does that apply to you, too? It is never too late to do something about it!

Whilst most of the key numbers concern physical health, the MHF does include a couple of mental health statistics too. The first of these is this:

This raises the huge issue of social inequality, which is far too complex for this post. Sadly, I don’t think the current political situation in this country is conducive to removing the barriers that prevent the achievement of social equality – indeed, I believe we have a government which is doing its best to widen the gap between those who have and those who don’t. Of course, I recognise that to be a sweeping generalisation, and social inequality has existed for thousands of years, so it isn’t likely to be resolved any time soon. But it does put into context how hard we all need to be working towards improving our health – both physical and mental.

A further terrifying statistic for men lies in the other MHF poster which focuses on mental health:

Despite the depression I have often chronicled here I have never, ever, had any suicidal ideation. Again, this is a complex issue, and various reasons have been suggested as to why this might be, but if you ever have a thought like that please, please seek help before it is too late. And you don’t have to be male to do that!

If you’ve read this far and are female, and are wondering ‘what about us?’ I would contend that as the stereotypical male buries his head in the sand about health issues – except, of course, for manflu – we need a kick up the wotsit to make us take notice. Physical and mental health are important for everyone of whatever gender, and I think it is good to see a focus on those who that stereotype says might well be in denial about their need to improve their lifestyles. I know I do: I just hope I can actually do more than just talk about it. And I suspect that is equally true of many others.

Please do follow the link I gave earlier to the MHF website. They do a good deal more than run this awareness week, and there are a number (see what I did there?) of useful resources available to you on the site. They say that they have 1.4m visits each year: that doesn’t happen if people don’t think it worth their time and effort.

[I have put this post under my ‘Dates To Note’ category. This was a series I ran through 2013, with occasional returns since then. All of the posts I have placed in that category are available – in reverse chronological order – from the menu at the top of the page. Go on, click the link – you may find something of interest!]


Let It Grow

Wake Me Up When Movember Ends (Again!)


Back in April I was suddenly struck by the idea that I could do something to help raise money for worthwhile charities by signing up for Movember – you know, that month when slugs appear under men’s noses. It seemed such a good idea that I blogged about it in What Do You Do For Money Honey – but now it’s time to really do something and make it happen! So I have signed up and am now starting to plead for donations. This is me:

My Mo Poster

My Mo Poster

I started the ball rolling by making a small donation, using the logic that if I didn’t support myself I couldn’t really expect anyone else to do so. Two kind people have already added to this and my total currently stands at £50. I’ve no idea what would be a good amount for someone like me to raise – I’m hardly a celebrity name known in every household! –  but I’d love to think that by the end of the month that £50 could increase to £500. That may be totally unrealistic, but every penny raised will go to a good cause.

MO13 Membership ShieldIn case you don’t know, Movember supports men’s health, specifically prostate cancer, which is where it started, but it also takes an interest in testicular cancer and mental health. All of these are extremely deserving of support and as those who know me will recognise it’s the last of these that is my particular interest. By raising funds, the Movember organisation hopes to provide active support for services for men with prostate cancer and for education programmes for them, their families and friends, and for us all.  There is a specific focus on early diagnosis, which is obviously vital in helping those afflicted to combat the disease and in giving them the best chance of overcoming it. The Movember website tells you all you need to know, whether you just want to find out more, or donate, or even to join up – it’s only three days into Movember so you won’t be at much of a disadvantage in developing a luxuriant growth! Those of us taking part are known as ‘Mo Bros’ but if you are unable to grow a moustache on the basis of being female you can also show your support by becoming a ‘Mo Sista’ – the website tells you how. If anyone would like to be my Mo Sista I’d be honoured! You will see plenty of support for Movember throughout the month. Many celebrities take part – Stephen Fry did it last year, for example.  A number of sports people also grow a Mo – and so does Joey Barton.

I hope you can support Movember in one way or another – or in more than one if you like! If you are intending to donate, I’d be thrilled if you would do it on my Movember page to help get my total as high as possible. But any donation, however and wherever it is made, will support the cause.

As an excuse to keep reminding you about this I’ll be posting regular updates about the state of my growth. If I’m lucky, I could end Movember looking like this:

Or maybe not!

Or maybe not!

Watch this space 🙂