Dr Matt Jameson Evans, Chief Medical Officer
It’s a well known gender stereotype that men do anything and everything to avoid having to go to the doctor. Put this into the context that according to the UK charity, Men’s Health Forum, one in five men die before they are 65, it’s not just a stereotype but a real problem and challenge of our time. This is even more apparent when you consider that scientists are now saying we could live beyond 120 years of age.
The patient organisation Men’s Health Network, has statistics that delve further into this. They found some staggering statistics when comparing men and women.
Not going to the GP/family doctor is only one part of the problem here; men are also reluctant to talk about their health to friends, families… in fact to anyone. We bear witness to this at HealthUnlocked where only 23 per cent of our members are men.
No single reason has been uncovered as to why men avoid their doctor and tend towards passivity when it comes to their health. Over the years many different organisations and initiatives have tried to help men take health more seriously; from making doctors offices more ‘men friendly’ to holding health clinics in traditionally male-oriented environments (like rugby matches). But sadly it appears to have made little or no difference. And consider that there are 32 million males in the UK and 151 million in the US, who can all therefore expect significantly worse health outcomes (compared to women).
HealthUnlocked fully supports the men’s health charities whose mission is to make men’s health a higher priority, as a preventable cause of illness and early death. We have seen how attitudes can be changed across populations with a more combined approach through public, private and non-profit organisations and good public health campaigns. We believe technology can be a key enabler for men’s health (gadgets, right!) and is an area where organisations such as ours can help, particularly in the area of providing a safe, anonymous place for men to explore their own health through the experiences of others.
At HealthUnlocked, we recently announced an impressive 50:50 gender balance in our employees, against a 12 per cent average in tech companies. In years to come we want to announce that we have a 50:50 split in our member population. Together with Men’s Health Network and Men’s Health Forum, HealthUnlocked have created two online communities specifically for men (one for US and one for UK), to challenge negative behaviour and offer men that safe place. In recognition of some of the barriers, men do not need to have to comment or ask a question, they can simply have a look around at what other men are saying – whether it’s about prostate cancer, or a mole, it’s a place to come anonymously and ask questions. The forums are proving particularly supportive for men around conditions or wanting to ask questions around things that are traditionally thought of as embarrassing, such as erectile disfunction, testicles and prostates.
June has been Men’s Health Month – join the movement.
From the US: The Men’s Health Network is a US national non-profit organization whose mission is to reach men, boys, and their families where they live, work, play, and pray with health awareness and disease prevention messages and tools, screening programs, educational materials, advocacy opportunities, and patient navigation. Join the HealthUnlocked community.
From the UK: The Men’s Health Forum is UK based charity that works to improve men’s health services and the health of men. Join the HealthUnlocked community