I am a feminist, which for me means that I strongly believe in equality between the sexes. November is Men’s Health Awareness month, commonly known as Movember.
My feminist beliefs and Men’s Health are linked as there are some inequalities between men and women’s health.
- Men die 6 years earlier than women, and often due to preventable causes. The mortality rate for Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) is higher in men. Men are more likely to die from CHD prematurely.
- Suicide is the leading cause of death in men aged 20-34
- Despite obesity being proportionately equal between the genders, more women participate in private sector weight loss programs. Women are more likely to be treated for obesity in primary care.
Of course, there are some biological and physiological differences between men and women that can interact with health. But World Health Organisation (WHO) highlight that men are less likely to visit a doctor when they are ill or to report their symptoms when they do. WHO suggest societal concepts of masculinity and “male norms of risk taking and adventure” as explaining factors.
Why am I writing about this here?
Firstly, reading that suicide is the leading cause of death in young men made me feel so sad and angry!
In my role as a soft tissue therapist it is important to champion all aspects of health – physical, mental/emotional, and social. In the clinic I treat clients of both genders, but men are in a slight majority.
WHO highlighted the interplay of concepts of masculinity with health. I think that many men feel “soft” for going to see a doctor about their aches and pains. But there is something about a sports massage that is more “acceptable” (and several of my male clients have verbally admitted this!).
Similarly, men are less likely to talk about their feelings. During a treatment I spend a full hour 1:1 with the client, and the majority of my clients spend this time talking. They may share their worries about sports performance or injuries, or even just offload about their day. I am aware that this puts me in a special position where I could perhaps make a small difference in the men’s health gap by:
- challenging gender stereotypes,
- raising awareness,
- signposting my male clients to relevant services,
- and encouraging them to feel in control of their health.
Massage is not going to cure suicidal thoughts. However, there is a huge body of evidence to show that regular massage can reduce the symptoms of anxiety and depression. If you choose to talk during your treatment, discussing your feelings, pain, or health is not a sign of weakness and can make you feel better. If you feel that you could benefit from talking to someone qualified to counsel in more depth, ask me! I have a number of connections and will be discrete and confidential in my recommendation.