6 April 2015

It’s easy for work, family and life to just take over. On World Health Day we want you to stay healthy and stay connected.

Stay Healthy, Stay Connected on World Health Day
To mark World Health Day, the Movember Foundation suggesting you take one small step for the good of your health, simply by committing some time to your mates. After all, it doesn’t take much to get in touch with your friends and let them know you’re around if they need you, yet it can be really beneficial to all of you.

The importance of men having a strong social network was highlighted recently in research funded by the Movember Foundation back in Australia (where the men’s health movement has its hairy origins) which showed that Australian men in general become lonelier as they reach their 30s and life increasingly gets in the way of time with their mates. Although this might not feel like a big deal to some people, this lack of social connection means that men are actually at a higher risk of mental health problems, even suicide. So get out on the golf course, down your local or have some mates round to watch the football; just get talking.

The Men’s Social Connectedness report, funded by the Movember Foundation, found that millions of Australian men have few or no social connections. This is something that we’re committed to changing and we will - through relevant programme funding and the awareness raised by our Movember campaign each year. We want men to avoid losing their friends or feeling isolated; to instead have a positive and healthy social balance between family, work and friends.

For anyone umming and ahhing whether you should make time for your mates, the answer is simple. The research shows that there is a clear relationship between lack of social connectedness and psychological distress. The importance of good communication between father and son was even highlighted as a protective factor from social disconnectedness right through to later life. Yet the survey revealed that an alarming 79% of men believe that their friends wouldn’t be able to help them deal with the personal issues they may be facing, so they would be unlikely to bring it up.

Adam Garone, Movember Foundation CEO and co-founder, encourages men on World Health Day to reach out to their mates and stay connected:
“Movember itself started with friends getting together, growing Mo’s and having fun. This friendship has been essential to help create conversations and change the face of men’s health. Today on World Health Day we’re reminded once again of its importance. Strong social networks can protect against depression, anxiety and suicide. We’re proud to support this significant and compelling research but we all need to use these findings to take action. Maintaining good friendships is of benefit to us blokes, as well as our mates. Whether catching up, watching the game or sending a quick message, it doesn’t take much to stay healthy and stay connected.”
Here are more significant findings from the report:
  • Men aged between 35 and 54 are at the greatest risk of isolation
  • Nearly 1 in 4 men experience low levels of social support and may be at-risk of isolation
  • 25% of men have no one outside of their immediate family that they can rely on
  • More than 1 in 3 men are not satisfied with the quality of their relationships, mainly because they do not feel emotionally connected or supported
  • Up to 59% are not satisfied with how much they feel like a member of the community
  • Up to 45% are not satisfied with the number of friends and acquaintances they have

Unfortunately, men still don’t feel comfortable or valued enough to share their personal issues with their mates. The majority of men surveyed did not realise the importance and impact that a lack of social support or loneliness can have on their lives. 70% of men believed that problems were part of life and were something you just have to deal with. However, many men want to open up to their mates but find it difficult to start the conversation, or they don’t know how to respond when mates open up to them. There were also many barriers that stopped men from forming new connections, from feeling like they won’t fit in, to not knowing where to start.

Not sure where to start? Dial a mate’s number, tweet your old work chums or knock on your neighbour’s door and get together over a drink – science says it’s good for you! Or you could always share this article to get the ball rolling; there’s no better day than today to let someone know how you are feeling or that you are simply thinking of them.