International Men's Health Week (MHW) always begins on the Monday before Father's Day and ends on Father's Day itself.Â During 2020, it ran from Monday 15th until Sunday 21st June.
It is celebrated in many European countries, as well as in the USA, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and a number of other places worldwide.Â The overall aims of MHW are to:
- Heighten awareness of preventable health problems for males of all ages.
- Support men and boys to engage in healthier lifestyle choices / activities.
- Encourage the early detection and treatment of health difficulties in males.
But why is there a need to hold a Men's Health Week? ...Â Males constitute almost 50% of the population on the island of Ireland and, therefore, deserve to have a gender lens focused upon their specific health needs.Â Research shows that these men experience a disproportionate burden of ill-health and die too young ...
- Local men die almost four years younger than women do.
- Males have higher death rates than females for almost all of the leading causes of death and at all ages.
- Menâ€™s poorer lifestyles are responsible for a high proportion of chronic diseases.
- Late presentation to health services can lead to a large number of problems becoming untreatable ...
Indeed, while many of these conditions are preventable, their prevalence amongst men may, in fact, rise in the future.Â
Men's Health Week 2020 took place against a backdrop of the Coronavirus / COVID-19 pandemic.Â Worldwide, this virus has had a major and disproportionate impact upon men.Â It has caused uncertainty, disruption and a sense of fear for many people.Â For others, it has had even more devastating consequences.Â These are really challenging times.
Despite this, the past few months have also shown us the best side of males - when the vast majority have answered the call and did their bit to â€˜flatten the curveâ€™, offer practical help to others, home-school their children, strengthen community spirit, show positive leadership, help to keep essential services running, and protect vulnerable people.Â MHW 2020 sought to celebrate this contribution.
The celebration of Men's Health Week on the island of Ireland was funded by the Health Service Executive's Health Promotion and Improvement and the Public Health Agency. Throughout the week, everyone was asked to 'BE PART OF THE SOLUTION' and to do something realistic and practical - no matter how small - to help to RESTORE SOME BALANCE and stability in everyone's lives.Â Rarely was this more needed!Â
So, are you up for the challenge? ...
Would you like to HEAR about Men's Health Week 2020 (the why, when, who, where and what), rather than have to READ about it? ...Â If so, click on the play button below to listen to Lorcan Brennan (Men's Development Network) speaking to Colin Fowler (Men's Health Forum in Ireland) about the week:
Special thanks go to Finian Murray, from HSE Promotion and Improvement, for hosting / recording this conversation.
Why focus upon 'Restoring the Balance'?
Not too long ago, we were unaware of the full extent of menâ€™s poor health status and the specific health issues that they must deal with.Â However, this is no longer the case.Â In recent years, a broad range of research has highlighted the health challenges which face men in Ireland and further afield.Â For example ...
Menâ€™s Health in Ireland (PDF, 2.13MB)
Getting Inside Menâ€™s HealthÂ (PDF, 1.5MB)
A Report on the all-Ireland Young Men and Suicide ProjectÂ (PDF, 2.73MB)
The State of Menâ€™s Health in Europe (PDF, 3.63MB)
Middle-Aged Men and Suicide in Ireland (PDF, 4.49MB) ...
Although the health of men in Ireland is poor, it can be improved in many significant ways.Â A wide range of innovative and positive work has already taken place to support the health needs of men and boys: Ireland was the first country in the world to have a National Menâ€™s Health Policy which has now been succeeded by the Healthy Ireland - Men Action Plan; the â€˜Engageâ€™ Menâ€™s Health Training Programme has influenced how services and structures support males; pioneering approaches have been developed and tested which provide models for improving menâ€™s health; new menâ€™s health / support groups are evolving across the island of Ireland ...Â Much has been achieved, but there is still room for improvement.
Of course, men, themselves, need to play a central role in taking control of their health and wellbeing.Â But menâ€™s health is not just an issue for individual men.Â While it is crucial for men to take responsibility for looking after themselves, their health can often be determined by other factors outside of their personal control.Â Thus, there is also a need for policy-makers, service providers, and society as a whole to recognise the role that they need to play, and to do something practical about it.Â This will require everyone to focus attention upon the men and boys around us.
2020 was an exceptional year in many ways.Â As the island of Ireland emerges from, what might be, the first wave of COVID-19, individuals across the country are trying to re-build their lives, relationships, jobs, finances, physical health, emotional resilience, connections, routines etc.Â Some people are still living with trauma and bereavement.Â Others are having to re-focus their priorities and to find new ways of living.Â Everyone's mental health has been impacted to some degree, and there is a need to find some new form of stable, realistic and relevant equilibrium - at least in the short-term.Â However, as these have been almost unprecedented times, this process is likely to be slow, gradual and incremental.
This is why the theme chosen for Men's Health Week 2020 was 'Restoring the Balance'.Â To make this happen, everyone was asked to â€˜Be Part of the Solutionâ€™.
- 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.
To shine some light on this situation, the Engage National Menâ€™s Health Training Programme invited Alan White, Emeritus Professor of Menâ€™s Health, to present his insights into why this might be so via a one hour online webinar titled 'Men and COVID-19'.Â This took place on Wednesday 13th May 2020.Â Alan gave a presentation on the current evidence, and there was an opportunity for the audience to ask questions afterwards.
You can view a video of the webinar below or, to see it on a full screen, visit: https://youtu.be/MGsP3IaQ5lg
The Engage Partners organised a further webinar on 'Men and COVID-19' to mark Men's Health Week 2020.Â This was held on Wednesday 17th June 2020, and featured Dr Noel Richardson (Director, National Centre for Men's Health, IT Carlow) and Dr Paula Carroll (Health Lecturer and Researcher, Waterford IT).Â This can be viewed below or, to see it on a full screen, visit: https://youtu.be/xbmGy8wWkkY
Who can be involved in this week?
Men's Health Week (MHW) gives everyone (health professionals, service providers, youth groups, sporting bodies, community organisations, employers, Churches, policy makers, family workers, pharmacists, academics, the media, parents, individuals ...) an opportunity to encourage men and boys to take better care of their health and to seek help or treatment at an early stage.
Planning Group for Men's Health Week 2020
Men's Health Week (MHW) 2020 in Ireland was planned by a broad range of partners who contributed to an inter-agency all-island Planning Group.Â This body began meeting in November 2019, and had ongoing communication up until the week itself.
The theme for this yearâ€™s MHW (i.e.Â 'Restoring the Balance') offered an opportunity for a very wide range of agencies to participate (via both face-to-face meetings and electronic communication), and the planning process for 2020 drew upon the insight, expertise, support and contacts of individuals from ...
- Action Cancer
- Action for Children NI
- Alcohol Action Ireland
- Ards and North Down Borough Council
- ARK (Queen's University Belfast and University of Ulster)
- Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council
- Arthritis Ireland
- Beechmount Sure Start
- Belfast City Council - Health Development Unit
- Belfast Health & Social Care Trust
- Belfast Men's Health Group
- BHSCT Carers Support
- Bowel Cancer UK
- British Medical Association (NI)
- Cancer Focus Northern Ireland
- Children and Young People's Strategic Partnership
- CIE - Staff Health Promotion
- Clanrye Group
- Closing the Gap Project: Health Inequalities
- Community Sports Network
- County Down Rural Community Network
- Cruse Bereavement Care NI
- Derry Youth and Community Workshop
- Developing Healthy Communities
- Donegal Education and Training Board
- Dublin City University School of Nursing
- East Belfast Community Development Agency
- East Coast Regional Drugs and Alcohol Task Force
- Education Authority for Northern Ireland
- Exchange House
- Focus: The Identity Trust
- Football Association of Ireland (FAI)
- Future Proof Media
- Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA)
- Gay Project
- Get Ireland Walking
- Health Service Executive - Health Promotion and Improvement
- INFANT Centre - University College Cork
- Institute of Public Health in Ireland
- Institute of Technology Carlow
- Irish Cancer Society
- Irish Football Association (IFA)
- Irish Heart Foundation
- Irish Menâ€™s Sheds Association
- Irish Pharmacy Union
- Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU)
- Limavady Initiative for the Prevention of Suicide
- Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council
- Male Menu
- Marie Keating Foundation
- Men About The Town (MATT)
- Menâ€™s Action Network (MAN)
- Men's Advisory Project (MAP)
- Men's Aid Ireland
- Menâ€™s Development Network (MDN)
- Men's Health Forum in Ireland (MHFI)
- Men's Health West
- Mental Health Ireland
- Migraine Association of Ireland
- National Centre for Men's Health
- National Screening Service
- National Youth Council of Ireland
- Newry and Mourne Community Development Team
- North Belfast Men's Shed
- North Down Community Network
- Northern Health and Social Care Trust
- Northern Ireland Chest, Heart & Stroke
- NUI Galway School of Nursing and Midwifery
- Oak Healthy Living Centre
- Patient Client Council
- Pavee Point Traveller Menâ€™s Health
- Primal Paddy
- Pulse Programme
- Queen's University Belfast School of Nursing and Midwifery
- Samaritans Ireland
- See Change
- Shankill Sure Start
- Shoot Positive - Carrie Davenport Photography
- South Eastern Health & Social Care Trust
- Southern Area Men's Health Group
- Southern Health & Social Care Trust
- South West College
- Sport Ireland
- Sport NI
- Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI)
- Union of Students in Ireland
- Waterford Sports Partnership
- Western Health & Social Care Trust
- WHSCT Recovery College
- YouthAction NI - Work with Young Men Unit
- Plus an additional range of individual counsellors, therapists and activists ...
To promote Men's Health Week (MHW) 2020, a bespoke poster was designed.Â The 'face' of MHW this year was a father and son - Chris and Ethan Smylie - from Belfast.
Anyone who has ever learned to ride a bike will appreciate that it's all about getting the balance right.Â However, to get the confidence to do this, you need the support and assistance of people around you that you can trust and rely on.Â Chris and Ethan really capture this relationship in their photograph!
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic - and the limited opportunities to place posters in public places this year - the posters were only available as online electronic files (in a range of sizes and formats suitable for a variety of uses).
Every year since 2014, there has been a Men's Health Week (MHW) postcard to publicise the week.Â Traditionally, these cards can be displayedÂ as small flyers in public spaces and are often sent by organisations to the men that they have contact with.Â Â This has proved to be a very successful means of letting local men know about the week.
Some groups have also used them as 'pledge cards' i.e. men can write on the card how they are going to 'be part of the solution' and improve their health and, later, keep this beside their desk, on their work bench, attached to their dashboard etc. to remind them of what they want and hope to do.
Due to the prevailing 'Stay at Home' message during MHW 2020, these postcards were not printed this year, but were still available for electronic download at: www.mhfi.org/mhw/mhw-image-pack.htm#Postcard2020
The front of the postcard had a similar design to the MHW poster, and the back had a pre-written message which said:
These are really challenging times.
Coronavirus / COVID-19 has caused uncertainty, disruption and a sense of fear for many of us.Â For others, it has had even more devastating consequences.
However, the past few months have also shown us the best side of males - when the vast majority have answered the call and did their bit to â€˜flatten the curveâ€™, offer practical help to others, home-school their children, strengthen community spirit and protect the vulnerable people around them.Â We should celebrate this contribution.
From 15th - 21st June 2020, Ireland will be joining with other countries during International Menâ€™s Health Week to heighten awareness of the health issues facing men and boys, and encourage practical action to overcome these difficulties.Â Rarely has this been more needed!Â
Throughout the week, everyone is asked to 'BE PART OF THE SOLUTION' and to do something realistic and practical - no matter how small - to help to RESTORE SOME BALANCE and stability in everyone's lives.
So, are you up for the challenge? ...Â If so, find out more at: www.mhfi.org/mhw/mhw-2020.html
One of the key aims for Men's Health Week (MHW) each year is to let as many people as possible know when it is happening.Â To do this, there needs to be a common set of promotional tools.Â These were available for free downloading at: www.mhfi.org/mhw/mhw-image-pack.html
This page offers generic MHW images, new resources created specifically for MHW 2020, as well as the ones used in previous years.Â There is a ...
These came in a range of sizes and formats, and groups and individuals were invited to use any or all of these images to promote MHW in any way they could.
Research clearly shows that there are many challenges to be faced when seeking to improve menâ€™s health.Â However, it also highlights that menâ€™s health can be improved in many significant ways - if the right choices are made.Â Men, themselves, have a key role to play in this process.
One of the most successful and sought after elements of previous Menâ€™s Health Weeks has been the â€˜Challenges and Choicesâ€™ Man Manual which is distributed free-of-charge to males throughout the whole island of Ireland.Â In the past, all of the hard copies of this booklet were distributed within a few weeks of their release.
The â€˜Challenges and Choicesâ€™ booklet is a male-friendly, 32 page publication, which highlights ten key menâ€™s health issues i.e. alcohol, food, physical activity, smoking, stress, blood pressure, sexually transmitted diseases, skin cancers, back care and help-seeking behaviour.Â It was written by leading menâ€™s health expert Dr Ian Banks (internationally acclaimed menâ€™s health author, President of the European Menâ€™s Health Forum, the British Medical Associationâ€™s Spokesperson on Menâ€™s Health, and a resident of Northern Ireland).
This Manual: issues a realistic and practical challenge to improve the readerâ€™s health in each area of concern; provides a reason for why it is important to consider taking action in relation to each issue; offers three possible choices for what actions can be taken to combat each condition; signposts the reader to local sources of help and support.
During MHW 2020, 15,000 updated copies of this publication were made available to men throughout the island of Ireland.Â These were funded by the Health Service Executive in the Republic of Ireland and the Public Health Agency in Northern Ireland.Â To see an electronic version of what the Man Manual looks like, click here.
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Everyone was invited to keep up-to-date with the latest news on Menâ€™s Health Week (MHW) 2020 by checking out the MHW Facebook page (www.facebook.com/MensHealthWeek) and Twitter feed (www.twitter.com/MensHealthIRL).Â Viewers were encouraged toÂ click on the â€˜LIKEâ€™ / 'FOLLOW' buttons, and to send these links to all their friends.
People who are into social media, were also asked to Tweet about MHW using the hashtags #MensHealthWeek and #RestoringTheBalance
Everyone canÂ do something to support and celebrate Menâ€™s Health Week (MHW) each year.
The focus for MHW 2020 (i.e. â€˜Restoring the Balanceâ€™) lent itself to a wide range of ways to mark this occasion.Â However, there was no need toÂ stick rigidly to this particular theme.Â Anything which promoted the week and encouraged men and boys to lead healthier lifestyles, to be more aware of preventable health problems, and to seek early detection and treatment for health difficulties was very welcome!
Some people might have the time, energy, resources and skill to plan something elaborate.Â However, even if this was not possible, there were still many simple, free and easy ways to get involved / show support - such as social media posting, directing men to the Man Manual, using the MHW graphics ...
For practical ideas, everyone was invited to check out 'The Toolbox for Action'.
Menâ€™s health issues and needs are numerous and complicated.Â So much so, that we could probably assign a different one to highlight on each day of the year and still have an outstanding pool of ones to explore!Â However, when preparing for Menâ€™s Health Week (MHW) 2020, the all-island Planning Group felt that it would be useful to draw attention to a specific theme on each day during the week, as well as on the days leading up to it.Â These were ...
- Friday 12th June:Â Itâ€™s Almost Time - Menâ€™s Health Week: Restoring the Balance
- Saturday 13th June:Â Staying Connected During and After Loss - maintains our sense of balance
- Sunday 14th June:Â Food - itâ€™s easy to strike a balance
- Monday 15th June:Â Mental Fitness - itâ€™s always a balancing act
- Tuesday 16th June:Â Heart Health - have you got the balance right?
- Wednesday 17th June:Â Cancer Prevention - is about creating balance
- Thursday 18th June:Â Quit Smoking - restore the bodyâ€™s balance
- Friday 19th June:Â Rethink what you Drink - get the balance right
- Saturday 20th June:Â Physical Activity - restores your overall balance
- Sunday 21st June:Â Fathers - help their children to become balanced adults
Social media (especially Facebook and Twitter) has become a powerful tool for organisations to spread their message.Â During Menâ€™s Health Week 2020, everyone was encouraged to â€˜Postâ€™ and â€˜Tweetâ€™ about it and, when possible, to use the hashtags: #MensHealthWeek and #RestoringTheBalance
For those people who would like to support MHW 2020 using their own social media channels - but who didn't have the time, energy or knowledge to develop their own messages - there was a document which offered a range of Posts and Tweets that they could simply cut-and-paste from.Â There were lots of message options presented for each day of MHW, and these related to the theme for that day.Â Everyone was invited to use them all, or simply pick and choose the ones that suited themselves / their organisation / their location.Â Click here to download these suggestions, and get a copy of the dedicated social media image for each day by clicking here (this is a .zip file).
Even loading a few things to websites / Facebook pages / Twitter feeds / Instagram / other social media platforms made a huge difference to publicising the week.Â This was, therefore, an easy and free way to show support for MHW.
Tell others about your Menâ€™s Health Week 2020 Activities
The Men's Health Forum in Ireland (MHFI) always seeksÂ to promote the details of activities / happenings that are being held throughout Ireland during Menâ€™s Health Week (MHW).Â It is hoped that this will help everyone to find out what is happening during the week, where it will be takingÂ place, and how - if possible - to join in.Â It also gives some recognition and publicity to all those groups across the island that are doing something for and with men.
COVID-19 meant that many traditional MHW face-to-face events (e.g. health checks, conferences, launches, games, seminars, competitions, workshops, lunches, training courses, performances, displays, health fairs ...) could not take place this year.Â However, many groups across Ireland were creative and innovative about how they could engage with / support men.
Whatever it was that groups were doing, if they would like to have the details included on our website, they were asked to get in touch.There were three ways to let us know about what was happening during 2020:
- Submit the details using the online form or
- Download and save a copy of the MS Word Registration Form, type in the details, and email it back to us, or
- Print off a copy of the Portable Document Format (PDF) Registration Form, handwrite the details, and post it back to us.