Aussie blokes dying for a health policy, say UWS men's health experts

We spend more time worrying about how to get Aussie men to do more housework than we do trying to understand why blokes continue to kill themselves in great numbers each year, according to University of Western Sydney men's health researchers.

Professor John Macdonald and Mr Micheal Woods from the UWS Men's Health Information and Resource Centre (MHIRC) say while we continue to blame men for their poor physical and mental health, we are ignoring the underlying social causes like education, socio-economic status, housing stress and work and family issues.

Speaking in Melbourne today at the 6th National Men's Health Conference, Professor Macdonald and Mr Woods urge federal and state governments to develop a long-overdue national men's health policy, which addresses the social, cultural and political context for men's health problems.

"We are still far to eager to dismiss the worsening men's health statistics as a result of 'men behaving badly' - bad diets, smoking and drinking too much, getting into fights, not expressing their emotions, taking risks when driving and not visiting the doctor," says Professor Macdonald.

"Too often, society sees 'masculinity' as the reasons why men abuse their bodies and minds, abuse their partners, refuse to seek help from friendly health services, and die young."

"This allows governments, bureaucracies and local services to avoid taking responsibility for men's poor health," adds Mr Woods.

"However this view ignores factors such as early life experience and education, social support and working conditions. There's a wealth of research which shows the poorer and more disadvantaged you are, the worse your health is. Often it's the blokes furthest down the ladder - the unemployed, or the mentally ill - who are in the worst position and have very little choice or influence over their circumstances.

"Saying men's own behaviour is the reason why they are more likely to die earlier from

Contact: Amanda Whibley
Research Australia

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