Summary of report content
Healthwatch Herefordshire undertook research into men’s health as there is evidence that men fare worse than women in most health measures in Herefordshire and in the UK. In addition, Healthwatch found that men tend to get less involved in surveys and giving feedback about services and health matters. Between July 2019 and March 2020 Healthwatch Herefordshire carried out a series of engagements with Herefordshire men in venues such as pubs, clubs, shops, and leisure facilities. A range of engagement tools were used to have conversations and raise awareness including quizzes, wall chart tick lists, question slips, and post boxes and 126 online and paper surveys were completed before the Covid-19 Pandemic curtailed activities.
Men are very willing to talk about their health once they are engaged. Often men do not make time for appointments are stressed and busy and do not prioritise themselves. They depend a little too much on others to keep them informed especially their wives instead of taking responsibility themselves.
Some men saw no point in going for health checks because they believe they are not or are sceptical about the benefits. Men were willing to talk about their health and wellbeing given a catalyst to start the conversation. Men agreed it is not something they generally converse about especially with other men in a leisure situation.
The research identified that traditional views of masculinity stigmatize and limit the emotions boys and men may comfortably express while elevating other emotions such as anger. It can be difficult for men to be openly vulnerable and ask for help and may be one reason why men seem to present at GP’s with symptoms later than women.
Older men felt it was too late to act to improve their health and wellbeing and younger men felt it didn’t apply to them – something they’d attend to when they are older. The beginnings of a tendency to procrastinate starts young.
There was a feeling that humour could be used more to get messages across. Encouraging talking and mutual support is key to helping men with physical and perhaps more particularly, mental health issues and men’s comments indicate that authentic personal stories and role models they trust can inspire them to act.
Men are not averse to health services proactively promoting initiatives and many men said they thought the project was a good idea and had made them think. Providing pubs, sports clubs, community buildings and leisure services with useful posters, information and resources and fun health quizzes, perhaps even offering talks might also be a good way to reach men that are delaying or avoiding taking action, to prevent health issues become more serious.
The report contains five recommendations about how to reach men with information and messages about health.