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Health Tips, Guides and Advice for Men’s Health Week

June 17, 2024
Health Tips, Guides and Advice for Men’s Health Week
June 17, 2024

With research showing that a third (31%) of men are putting off going to see their doctor – either because they can’t get an appointment or don’t want to cause a fuss – thousands of men are currently risking their long-term health by delaying a diagnosis or getting treatment for something that could get worse.

‘That’s why Men’s Health Week is so important,’ says ZoomDoc GP, Dr Vip Thiagarasah.

‘Anything we can do to raise awareness of conditions affecting men and get men talking, sharing and making that GP appointment is such a positive thing – it will undoubtedly save lives,’ he says.

Here’s what you need to know about Men’s Health Week, including how to make changes that could improve your physical and mental health from today.

When is men’s health week in the UK?

Men’s Health Week takes place every year – usually in the lead up to Father’s Day. 

It’s well-timed given that the men in our lives are under the spotlight, being showered with attention and affection. So what better time of year to make sure their health and wellbeing – often neglected in men – gets equal attention, too. 

This year’s Men’s Health Week (2024) takes place 10-16 June.

What is the theme for Men’s Health Week 2024?

The overall purpose of Men’s Health Week is to raise awareness of preventable health problems in men and encourage them to check for lumps and get any unusual signs or symptoms checked out sooner rather than later.

Each year there is a theme that hones into a particular area of men’s health. This year the theme is ‘let’s talk prostates – and everything else men’s health!’ 

It has been inspired by King Charles who, earlier this year, shared that he was having treatment for an enlarged prostate (before his later cancer diagnosis). 

Read more about King Charles’ common prostate condition

According to Men’s Health Forum, ‘on the day after his announcement, there were 16,410 visits to the relevant NHS page compared with 1,414 visits the previous day.’

Prostate Cancer UK also saw double the number of users on its online risk checker. 

Talking openly about health can make a huge difference – even save lives if people recognise a symptom or get treatment early enough. 

What are the colours for Men’s Health Week?

 

Men’s health awareness can mean many different things. Raising awareness, education oneself and having regular check ups.

 

You may notice people wearing blue ribbons in support of Men’s Health Week. National Wear Blue day also takes place on the Friday at the end of Men’s Health Week.

This week, on 14th June, companies may encourage employees and staff to wear blue clothing, to show support and awareness for Men’s Health Week.

Mental Health Issues in Men

While it’s important to get men checking for lumps and seeing their doctor for any unusual signs and symptoms – more on this below – their mental health is also under the spotlight this week.

Some of the most common mental health conditions in men include:

  • anxiety
  • stress
  • loneliness
  • insomnia
  • depression

But what’s too common in men is not getting help with these conditions or talking about them before they escalate can have tragic and devastating consequences.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) lists suicide as the biggest cause of death in men under the age of 50 and says around three quarters of deaths from suicides each year are men. 

On its website, Mental Health charity, Samaritans says ‘middle-aged men are more likely to die by suicide than any other age group.’ 

‘Help is available,’ says Dr Vip. 

‘Make that appointment and ask your GP for help. Just doing this will take a huge weight off and will get you the support you need, whether that’s with medication, support groups, counselling or specialist referrals – there are lots of options out there.’

If you’re struggling right now, you can always contact these fantastic resources:

 

Men’s Mental Health Facts

 

77% of men polled said they experienced some level of symptoms for common mental health problems such as anxiety, stress or depression.

 

There are some hard-hitting statistics when it comes to men’s mental health. Hopefully raising awareness and talking to the man or men in your life will be able to change some of these, for the better:

  • In 2022, there were 5,642 suicides registered in England and Wales. Around three-quarters of the suicides were men. (Source: ONS).
  • Suicide is the largest cause of death for men under 50, with three times as many males as women reported to have ended their lives. (Source: ONS)
  • 4 in 10 (40%) men in the UK won’t discuss their mental health with close friends, family, or a medical professional – that’s according to a survey of 1000 men commissioned by mental health experts, Priory Group.
  • 40% of men (in the same surveyed group) said it would take thoughts of suicide or self-harm to compel them to get professional help.
  • Only 36% of all NHS referrals for psychological therapies are for men. Men are less likely to seek help for their mental health. (Source: NHS Digital)

 

Why do men struggle with mental health?

Figures are only a rough guide to the struggles men have with anxiety, stress, depression, suicidal thoughts and other mental health conditions. True numbers are likely to be a lot higher if men are ignoring their struggles or struggling to manage without support.

But why are so many men battling mental health problems alone right now?

Psychiatrist Hasanen Al-Taiar addressed this during a past Men’s Health Week. Here’s what he said:

‘Psychiatric conditions can be more challenging to diagnose and treat in men. This could be for a variety of reasons including men’s reluctance to seek professional help. In the UK, men are only around half as likely as women to access psychological therapies, and it’s also believed they are less likely to speak to family or friends about mental health issues.

‘A big factor in this issue is the damaging stigma around mental health problems. One in four people experiences a mental health problem each year, yet the negative perceptions around them is greater than with physical illness. This tends to affect men disproportionately, and societal expectations and traditional gender roles are thought to play a big part in this.’

The Mental Health Foundation agrees with the pressures men are under to play a certain role in society. 

It says:

‘Men are often expected to be the breadwinners and to be strong, dominant and in control. While these aren’t inherently bad things, they can make it harder for men to reach out for help and open up.’

It can also be difficult to make a doctor’s appointment that suits you, says Dr Vip.

‘That’s where ZoomDoc can help. To talk to a GP about your symptoms today from your own home, download our ZoomDoc app to get an appointment at a time that suits you from just £35,’ he says.

Download the ZoomDoc App and book your GP appointment today

Tips for Managing Stress

 

Being active regularly can help you to burn off nervous energy, so it could be a way for you to deal with stress.

 

Small things can make a big difference when it comes to coping with stress and these self-care techniques can be helpful to work into your daily routine:

Breathe – so many of us forget to breathe, but getting oxygen to our brain really can give clarity and calm to a spiralling situation. NHS guidance recommends using a 4-5-8 method where you breathe in for the count of 4, hold it for a count of 5 and then breathe out for the count of 8. Give it a try!

Mindfulness – this self-care technique can help ground you and make you focus on the world around you in a particular instant, taking your mind off the bigger things weighing you down. 

Try this:

NHS advice recommends practising mindfulness when you brush your teeth. It says: ‘Concentrate on how the brush feels in your hand, the sensation of it brushing your teeth, the feeling of your feet against your bathroom floor, the smell and taste of the toothpaste. It’s amazing how much we experience in the space of 2 minutes brushing our teeth!’

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) – according to NHS advice, this can help you deal with stress by working through problems in new ways and building resilience. Think of it like a coping mechanism to have in place for when things get tough.

Think positively – stress can quickly cloud our outlook and make things gloomier than they are. Health experts recommend positive thinking to help focus on the good things in life or at work, rather than just the bad. NHS advice suggests listing three things you’re thankful for, however small, each day.

Move more – According to NHS advice, ‘being active regularly can help you to burn off nervous energy, so it could be a way for you to deal with stress. Exercise might also help you manage or reduce stress.’ 

Read more about ways to move for your mental health here

Making Dopamine

Maintaining dopamine levels is key for mental health. 

‘Dopamine is an important chemical in our brain that affects our mood,’ says Dr Vip. ‘Too much of it or too little can cause mental health problems and lifestyle habits that can be hard to break,’ he says.

Too much dopamine can make you feel:

  • aggressive
  • restless
  • anxious

Too little dopamine can cause:

  • low energy 
  • mood swings
  • low sex drive

To help keep your dopamine levels consistent try:

  • eating a protein-rich, low fat diet
  • increasing your fruit and veg intake – especially bananas and avocados
  • improving your sleeping habits
  • getting regular exercise
  • listening to music
  • meditating
  • cutting down on screen time.

 

Common Health Issues with Men

 

Men are more likely to experience poor health outcomes for a variety of conditions such as some cancers, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

 

In terms of physical health, men need to be aware of common health issues. That means knowing the signs and symptoms of specific illnesses and cancers so that they can be caught early – where possible – and treated sooner rather than later.

Men’s health conditions to have on your radar include:

  • Prostate cancer
  • High cholesterol 
  • Erectile dysfunction

 Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in men in the UK, according to Prostate Cancer UK and Cancer Research UK, affecting 1 in 8 in their lifetime. 

This particular male cancer affects the walnut-sized gland (the prostate) that sits just below the bladder and produces some of the fluid in semen. Although most cases develop slowly, some types are more aggressive and can spread quickly without treatment. 

Learn more about prostate cancer here.

Prostate Cancer Symptoms

While some cancers have obvious early warning signs such as lumps or blood where it shouldn’t be, prostate cancer isn’t particularly easy to spot.

In fact, you’re unlikely to notice specific symptoms with prostate cancer in its early stages.

Although the NHS always advises getting any unusual symptoms checked out – such as an increased need to pee – knowing your risk factor is an important part of prostate cancer awareness and diagnosis.

According to Prostate Cancer UK, the three main risks to be aware of are:

  • getting older – it mainly affects men aged 50 or over
  • having a family history of prostate cancer
  • Ethnicity, such as African and Afro-Caribbean descent.

If you’re at risk or concerned about prostate cancer, PSA tests can help detect an elevated prostate specific antigen (PSA) level, which may be elevated in prostate cancer, as well as a number of other benign conditions.

Get a PSA home test today 

High Cholesterol in Men

Men are biologically more likely to have high cholesterol – where you have too much of a fatty substance called cholesterol in your blood – than women. This is likely to increase with age, too, according to research from the British Heart Foundation

Luckily, this is easy to check and monitor via blood tests at your GP, or finger prick tests available at home.

Order a Cholesterol Test today

If yours is high you’ll be advised to:

  • lose weight
  • move more
  • drink less alcohol
  • quit smoking.

‘High cholesterol can lead to serious problems, including heart disease and stroke but it is controllable and you can reduce your cholesterol and reduce your risk of early death with some simple lifestyle measures,’ says Dr Vip. 

Erectile Dysfunction

 

Erectile dysfunction is very common, particularly in men over 40. It’s usually nothing to worry about, but see a GP if it keeps happening.

 

Erectile dysfunction is also common in men, affecting over half (52%) of all men between the ages of 40 and 70 (source: NICE). As with so many conditions, your risk increases considerably with age.

This condition that affects being able to get or to keep an erection can be helped by lifestyle changes (such as diet, exercise, reducing alcohol intake) or with medication such as Viagra or Cialis, so don’t suffer in silence.

Your doctor will also want to rule out other possible causes, such as:

  • high blood pressure
  • high cholesterol
  • diabetes
  • depression
  • hormone problems.

If you have low sex drive, low energy, or loss of muscle, this test is key to determining if low testosterone levels is the cause.

Order a Testosterone Test Today

Other Common Health Issues

Of course there are lots of other common health issues that can affect men. 

Warning signs and symptoms you should always see the doctor about include:

  • chest pain
  • peeing blood
  • new or unusual moles
  • change in bowel habits
  • weight struggles
  • lumps
  • snoring.

Find out what you should always see the doctor about here

What are the best supplements for men?

There is no clear evidence to suggest specific supplements can help improve men’s health. Instead focus on eating a balanced diet.

If you are concerned about a vitamin or mineral deficiency you can always take an at-home finger prick wellness test.

It’s worth knowing that most people are vitamin D deficient during the winter months. The best source of this key vitamin – that helps regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body – is the sun and it is difficult to get enough through diet alone. 

Therefore everyone should take a vitamin D supplement (10 micrograms) during the autumn and winter.

Check your vitamin D levels with this at-home test.

Habits for Improving Mental and Physical Health

 

Get regular exercise, eat healthy meals, stay hydrated and make sleep a priority.

 

There are lots of ways to improve both your physical and mental health at the same time. From eating well and moving more to breathing and practising self-care – every little bit adds up and makes a difference.

Why not use this year’s Men’s Health Week to get into these healthy habits? 

Men’s Health Week: The health habits every man needs to try – ZoomDoc Health

Good luck!

Want to know more?

Our team of Doctors are available via the ZoomDoc App for any medical questions or queries.