We all get stressed. The question is: what do you do about it?
It matters because if we don’t release stress, it can turn into something more serious. This year, one in four of us will develop a mental health problem. That is odds of 3 to 1; or about the same as France or Germany winning the Euro 2016 football. In other words, it’s likely to happen sooner or later if we let stress build.
International Men’s Health Week (IMHW) is an annual occurrence on the Diversity calendar celebrated in several countries to focus on issues facing men’s health. The celebrations deliberately fall in the week preceding and including Father’s Day, honouring the importance of men’s health and wellness. IMHW was chosen for this specific time of year to make use of the extra attention paid to male family members near the holiday. Observing Men’s Health Week is meant to educate the public about what can be done to improve the state of men’s health. It also heightens awareness of preventable health problems and encourages early detection and treatment of disease among men and boys. This awareness promotes the shift from treatment to prevention in health care. It was also noted that prevention requires public awareness and designating a week would spread information on preventing illnesses affecting men, which includes nationwide events and screenings.
Physicians and men’s health activists mark IMHW with awareness campaigns to highlight additional health concerns such as mental health illnesses, diabetes, osteoporosis, family health, workplace accidents, and men’s higher likelihood of suicide or being a victim of homicide. IMHW began at an international level in 2002 when representatives from six men’s health organisations around the world met in a meeting organised by Men’s Health Network at the 2nd World Congress on Men’s Health in Vienna, Austria and resolved to work together to launch International Men’s Health Week (IMHW).
Observers of International Men’s Health Week are sometimes seen wearing a blue ribbon as a symbol of their support for the fight against prostate cancer. However, problems affecting men’s health extend far beyond prostate cancer and other commonly recognised men’s illnesses.

Vienna Declaration

The European Men’s Health Forum returned to Austria in 2005 to create the Vienna Declaration which serves as a plan of action for improving the state of men’s health. According to the Society for Men’s Health and Gender, the five main points of the Vienna Declaration are:

  • Recognizing men’s health is a critical issue and that there are health issues which only affect men
  • Promoting awareness of men’s approach to health
  • Changing the way health care is provided to be more sensitive towards men’s needs
  • Creating school and community programs which target boys and young men
  • Connecting health and social policies to better pursue men’s health goals

Because men’s health is still an emerging issue, IMHW has been helpful in bringing awareness of the issue to areas where men’s health has yet to become accepted. Countries in which men’s health has come to be viewed as a more legitimate concern have collaborated with men’s health activists elsewhere.
Some affiliates of IMHW include The Men’s Health Forum in England and Wales, The Men’s Health Forum Scotland (MHFS), Men’s Health Network (USA and other countries), Australasian Men’s Health Forum and Men’s Health Society of BC, in British Columbia, Rotary International, and the San Maarten Public Health Department in the Netherlands Antilles.

What can you do to support Men’s Health Week?

  • Access FREE helpful resources, including a links to a confidential text chat or email facility, from the Men’s Health Forum website.
  • Download, Print and Display the posters. With “Let’s Talk”, write down what you do to beat stress!
  • Host a Wear BLUE Day to raise awareness. Many people take advantage of less stringent work attire to show their support of men’s health by wearing blue. Take photographs and tag and on social media, tag onto hashtag #ShowUsYourBlue which has grown tremendously over the years
  • Friday of Men’s Health Week has been officially named Wear BLUE Day for the week.
  • Blue Monday is the official kick-off for National Men’s Health Week, proclaimed by President Clinton in 1994.

“Blue Monday” is the day to kick off Men’s Health Week and promotes men’s health engagement, education and advocacy. The goal of Blue Monday is to create awareness of men’s health issues worldwide and to save lives. The first Blue Monday, June 15, 2015 was recognized and promoted in Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio, Wisconsin, Canada, and Florida. For 2016, the Men’s Health Foundation has partnered with the non-profit Men’s Health Initiative and together they are working to achieve international recognition for Blue Monday.
So we are not far behind. Could wear BLUE all week!

What’s happening in Leeds?

  • Monday 13th June – 3pm – Official launch of “The State of Men’s Health in Leeds” report at The Rose Bowl, Leeds Beckett University.
  • Wednesday 15th June – 1:30pm – Richmond Hill Lunch Out for Men’s Health Week at East Leeds Cricket Club, Pontefract Lane, Leeds LS9 OPT. Bicycle powered cinema film show plus healthy snacks and men’s health information.
  • Thursday 16th June – 4pm – Black Health Initiative – Exploring the Issue of Men’s Health and Prostate Cancer at Thackray Medical Museum, Beckett Street, Leeds LS9 7LN.
  • Friday 17th June – 7pm – Men’s Health Discussion Phone-in on Chapel FM
  • Sunday 19th June – 11am – Dadstastic Event at Leeds City Museum – free event for families: crafts, music, science, storytelling, art and sport.