Addressing men’s health disparities and transforming workplace support

Lack of preventive measures can result in tragic consequences and claim lives prematurely. Picture: Pexels/RDNE Stock project

Lack of preventive measures can result in tragic consequences and claim lives prematurely. Picture: Pexels/RDNE Stock project

Published Nov 23, 2023


Every day, countless lives are lost due to the absence of preventive measures that could have made a difference.

And when it comes to men's health, scientific evidence has shown that a lack of preventive measures can result in tragic consequences and claim lives prematurely.

Research published in The Lancet, journal found that the absence of health check-ups, screenings, and timely interventions are costing scores of lives each year.

The research highlighted that preventable conditions, such as heart disease, certain cancers, and chronic illnesses, are claiming lives that could have been saved through proactive measures.

A lack of awareness and prioritisation of preventive care, particularly for men, have been blamed as undetected conditions worsen over time.

Societal stigmas and expectations surrounding masculinity have also discouraged men from seeking preventive care, leading to delayed detection of health issues, which could result in the progression of conditions to a critical and irreversible stage.

Meanwhile, access to healthcare plays a crucial role and in some cases, financial barriers and limited healthcare resources can hinder men from seeking preventive measures.

And when preventable conditions claim lives prematurely, families are left grieving, and communities lose the contributions and potential of these individuals.

The economic burden of untreated and advanced illnesses also weighs heavily on healthcare systems and societies.

It is evident from the scientific evidence that the lack of preventive measures is costing lives and perpetuating unnecessary suffering.

But through raising awareness and promoting a culture of proactive health management, there is hope.

In honour of Men's Health Awareness Month, International SOS, a leading health and security risk services company, has called for supportive workplace environments that prioritise men's mental health.

Men's health remains a significant concern, with reported disparities in metrics such as life expectancy, mortality rates, disability-adjusted life years, and non-sex-specific disease death rates.

The World Health Organization (WHO) reveals that non-communicable diseases (NCDs) account for approximately 74% of all lives lost each year, and in 2018, NCDs and injuries were responsible for 86% of male fatalities.

WHO data also showed that men, across all socio-economic groups, exhibit unhealthier behaviours such as smoking, dietary patterns, higher alcohol consumption, and higher rates of injuries compared to women.

In fact, a significantly higher percentage of men (36.7%) used tobacco in 2020, compared to women (7.8%). These statistics indicate the urgent need to focus on improving men's health, and organisations can play a vital role in enhancing men's health within the workplace.

Men are less likely than women to seek preventive care services, leading to undiagnosed conditions. They are also less likely to have received mental health treatment.

The stigma associated with illness and the perception of weakness often prevent men from openly discussing their health and mental well-being concerns.

This Men's Health Awareness Month, Dr Anthony Renshaw, Regional Medical Director at International SOS, urged organisations to re-evaluate the way they support the health and well-being of their male employees.

And since mental health has a direct impact on output and job satisfaction, he argued that it is just as vital as physical health.

“Employers can make a significant contribution to promoting candid conversations, lessening stigma, and developing an atmosphere of acceptance where men feel at ease asking for assistance when necessary,” Renshaw said.

International SOS offers guidelines for organisations to provide specific support for men's health and wellbeing using the 'H-O-P-E' approach:

Hold workplace men's forums that serve as safe spaces for open discussions about health concerns.

Offer male-specific confidential support from mental health professionals.

Provide appropriate training to team leads to recognise early signs of poor physical and mental health and guide employees to appropriate resources.

Encourage regular health check-ups, including screenings for early detection and treatment of NCDs, as well as mental health assessments if necessary.

Encouraging open conversations about men's health, debunking stigmas, and advocating for accessible healthcare resources are crucial steps toward mitigating the toll of neglected preventive care.