International Men's Health Week (MHW) always begins on the Monday before Father's Day and ends on Father's Day itself.Â During 2021, it ran from Monday 14th until Sunday 20th 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 clearly hows that these men experience a disproportionate burden of ill-health and die too young ...
- Local men die 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 2021 took place against a backdrop of the Coronavirus / COVID-19 pandemic.Â Worldwide, this virus continued to have a major and disproportionate impact upon men's health as well as their wider lives.Â Even with the hope of vaccination, these were still extremely challenging times.
However, one thing was sure - we all needed to focus upon re-building our relationships with family, friends, neighbours, work colleagues, community groups, clubs, churches, men's programmes, sporting bodies, health services etc.Â Men's Health Week 2021 offered an ideal time to think about how this could be done realistically and safely.Â Throughout the week, everyone was asked to begin this process of 'MAKING THE CONNECTIONS' and to 'CHECK IN.Â CHECK UP.Â CHECK IT OUT.' Â
The celebration of Men's Health Week on the island of Ireland in 2021 was funded by the Health Service Executive Health and Wellbeing and the Public Health Agency.Â Â
Would you like to HEAR about Men's Health Week 2021 (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:
Why focus upon 'Making the Connections'?
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 Numbers (PDF, 10.7MB)
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.
Like 2020, 2021 was an exceptional year in many ways.Â The island of Ireland continued to battle with the global COVID-19 pandemic, individuals across the country were trying to re-build their lives, relationships, jobs, finances, physical health, emotional resilience, networks, routines etc.Â Some people were still living with trauma and bereavement.Â Others were having to re-focus their priorities.Â Everyone's mental health had been impacted to some degree.
This is why the theme chosen for Men's Health Week 2021 was 'MAKING THE CONNECTIONS' and the call to action was:
- CHECK IN with yourself to see how you are coping / feeling, and to identify any health worries that you might have.
- CHECK UP on your family, friends, neighbours, colleagues to see how theyâ€™re doing and to offer support.
- If you notice anything worrying or which needs medical attention, CHECK IT OUT and seek information / help / support / treatment as soon as possible.
- - 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 Men's Health Forum in Ireland was a partner in organising COVID-focused events, and collated reliable information on this subject - which can be viewed at: https://www.mhfi.org/coronavirus.html
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 2021
Men's Health Week (MHW) 2021 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 January 2021, and had ongoing communication until after the week had ended.
The theme for this yearâ€™s MHW (i.e.Â 'Making the Connections') offered an opportunity for a very wide range of agencies to participate (via video conferencing and electronic communication), and the planning process for 2021 drew upon the insight, expertise, support and contacts of individuals from ...
- Action Cancer
- 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
- 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 Coast Regional Drugs and Alcohol Task Force
- Education Authority for Northern Ireland
- Exchange House
- Flemington Community Centre
- Flowerhill Counselling
- Focus: The Identity Trust
- Football Association of Ireland (FAI)
- Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA)
- Gay Project
- Get Ireland Walking
- Health Service Executive - Health and Wellbeing
- 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 Rail
- Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU)
- Jumpers for Goalposts
- Letterkenny Youth and Family Service
- 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
- Mid-Ulster Council
- Migraine Association of Ireland
- National Centre for Men's Health
- National Screening Service
- National Youth Council of Ireland
- Newry, Mourne and Down District Council
- North Belfast Men's Shed
- North Down Community Network
- Northern Health and Social Care Trust
- Northern Ireland Chest, Heart & Stroke
- North West STOP
- NUI Galway School of Nursing and Midwifery
- Oak Healthy Living Centre
- Patient Client Council
- Pavee Point Traveller Menâ€™s Health
- 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
- Sure Start South Armagh
- Technological University Dublin
- Toghermore Training Centre
- Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI)
- Union of Students in Ireland
- University College Cork
- 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) 2021, a bespoke poster was designed.Â The 'faces' of MHW this year were Paul, Dee, Clara and Cristian.
Posters were available as both A3 and A4 hard copies, and 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 'make the connections' and 'check in, check up and check it out' to improve their health.Â Later on, they can 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.
This year, the postcards were available in both hard copy and as online electronic files.Â For electronic download, see: www.mhfi.org/mhw/mhw-image-pack.html#Postcard2021
The front of the postcard had a similar design to the MHW poster, and the back had a pre-written message which said:
This has been another really exceptional year.
The island of Ireland continues to battle with the global COVID-19 pandemic.Â Individuals are trying to re-build their lives, relationships, jobs, finances, physical health, emotional resilience, networks, and routines.Â Some people are living with trauma and bereavement.Â Others are having to re-focus their priorities.Â Everyone's mental health has been impacted to some degree.
During this difficult time, we have all become disconnected.Â Therefore, we now need to focus upon re-building our relationships with family, friends, neighbours, work colleagues, community groups, clubs, churches, sporting bodies, support systems, health services â€¦Â if we are to overcome this.
Men's Health Week 2021 offers an ideal time to think about how this could be done safely and realistically.Â Throughout the week, everyone is asked to begin this process of 'MAKING THE CONNECTIONS' and to 'CHECK IN.Â CHECK UP.Â CHECK IT OUT.'
So, are you up for the challenge? ...Â If so, find out more at: www.mhfi.org/mhw/mhw-2021.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 offered generic MHW images, new resources created specifically for MHW 2021, as well as the ones used in previous years.Â There was 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 During 2021, all of the hard copies of this booklet were given away 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, ex-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 actions that can be taken to combat each condition; signposts the reader to local sources of help and support.
During MHW 2021, this booklet was made available in hard copy and in electronic format.Â A copy of the online version can be downloaded by clicking here.
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Everyone was invited to keep up-to-date with the latest news on Menâ€™s Health Week (MHW) 2021 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 #CheckItOutÂ There was even a raft of social media images that they could use.
Everyone canÂ do something to support and celebrate Menâ€™s Health Week (MHW) each year.
The focus for MHW 2021 (i.e. â€˜Making the Connectionsâ€™) 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) 2021, 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 announce the final countdown to MHW on the Friday before.
The focus of each day was ...
- Friday 11th June 2021: What you need to know about Menâ€™s Health Week 2021
- Monday 14th June 2021: Healthy relationships / staying connected / tackling loneliness
- Tuesday 15th June 2021: Physical health / activity
- Wednesday 16th June 2021: Mental fitness
- Thursday 17th June 2021: Giving to others / volunteering / helping to make a difference
- Friday 18th June 2021: The importance of prevention / early detection / healthy lifestyle
- Saturday 19th June 2021: Pledge to action day
- Sunday 20th June 2021: Fathers, fatherhood and males in caring roles
Social media (especially Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) has become a powerful tool for organisations to spread their message.Â During Menâ€™s Health Week 2021, everyone was encouraged to â€˜Postâ€™ and â€˜Tweetâ€™ about it and, when possible, to use the hashtags: #MensHealthWeek and #CheckItOut
To support this, a range of social media graphics were available.
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 2021 Activities
The Men's Health Forum in Ireland (MHFI) always seeksÂ to promote the details of activities / happenings / events 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.
The ongoing COVID-19 situation 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 ...) did not take place this year.Â However, many groups across Ireland were still very creative and innovative about how they could engage with / support men.
There were two ways to let us know about what was happening during 2021:
- 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.