Yes we need a men’s health strategy

Jehan Casinader writes:

“Men have it so easy,” we often hear. “What do they have to complain about?”

As it turns out, quite a bit. Kiwi men are three times more likely than women to die by suicide. We’re 20% more likely to die from heart disease. We’re twice as likely to be injured at work. Each year, 4000 men get prostate cancer, and around 700 die from it – similar to breast cancer.

It’s a bit risky to even mention these stats. When I posted them on LinkedIn, some were outraged that I’d compared health outcomes for men and women.

I blogged some of these disparities in 2018, and in health alone they were:

  • Seven times more likely to commit suicide
  • Six times more likely to be subject to a mental health compulsory treatment order
  • Seven times more likely to be a mental health special patient
  • 113% more likely to be a hazardous drinker
  • 67% more likely to drink drive
  • Twice as likely to be a user of hard drugs
  • 10% more likely to get cancer
  • 74% more likely to have coronary heart disease
  • 31% more likely to have a stroke
  • 270% more likely to have gout
  • 11% more likely to have diabetes
  • Ten times more likely to have HIV/AIDs
  • Four years shorter life expectancy
  • 24% more likely to be a smoker
  • 11% more likely to be obese
  • 28% more likely to have high blood pressure
  • 33% more likely to have high cholesterol
  • 46% more likely to have an intellectual disability
  • 22% more likely to be hearing impaired

Yet there is no strategy aimed at reducing these disparities.

Yes, “male privilege” is real – but it doesn’t prevent men from experiencing pain. In fact, New Zealand’s tough brand of masculinity is exactly what stops guys from asking for help. Some would rather battle on until they’re on death’s door before going to the doctor.

There are definitely areas in which men are privileged or advantaged. But that doesn’t mean we should ignore the areas in which they are not, and in fact are disadvantaged.