Movember – A Reminder For Us to Change The Face of Men’s Health. View from a Doctor’s Desk – Dr Lisa Surman

The annual charity that was started in 2003 targets the most common health issues for men – prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health and suicide and it’s a cause that we can all create awareness of in our Practices.

Men – whether they be patients, staff, family or friends – can grow a moustache or , in a newer initiative, commit to walking or running 60 kilometres over the month to raise funds and awareness for men’s health projects.

Men die on average six years earlier than women.

Suicide is a leading cause of death for Australian men. More than 500 000 men take their own lives each year around the world – one man per minute. 75% of suicides are men.

The causes of suicide are complex. There is no single reason why men take their own lives, but improving overall mental health will reduce the risk of suicide.

Helping men and boys to stay mentally healthy, build strong social connections and take action early when times are tough is important and the Movember Foundation has many projects being funded in this area.

Prostate cancer incidence is expected to double in the next 15 years and the rate of testicular cancer is also rising.

Mental Health issues are common, 1 in 2 Australian men has had a mental health problem at some point in their lives. The Movember Foundation has encouraged men to speak up, to talk, ask, listen, encourage actions and check in with a friend or seeking professional help and has run campaigns such as Man UP ( a documentary series hosted by Triple M’s Gus Worland) and Real Aussie Blokes ( a photos series that aims to break down stereotypes about what it is to be a man in Australia)

New Access is a trial programme designed to encourage men to take action early when it comes to their mental health by accessing NewAccess coaches in their local communities.

Beyondblue has produced a guide on How to Have the Conversation, funded by the hairy efforts of the Movember Foundation. The guide explains how, having a conversation can help people feel less alone and more supported in getting help for anxiety and depression and what to do if your attempt to have the conversation is met with a bad reaction. (See https://www.beyondblue.org.au/get-support/have-the-conversation).

As GPs, we should be encouraging our male patients to “check-in” with us. To find out their numbers, numbers of cholesterol and blood sugar and after 50 years talk about prostate cancer and whether it is right for them to have a PSA test .

By helping with the diagnosis and treatment of mental health conditions and being aware of the local support services we can have conversations about the big things in life and also the concept that there is no one-size fits all for what to do next.

And for those needing help immediately, always remember to refer them to Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467.

Dr Lisa Surman, CBD West Medical Centre, Perth, WA

Member of Best Practice Software’s Clinical Leadership Advisory Committee

“Often patients spend time talking about current medical and social issues, taking valuable time away from dealing with what they have really come in to discuss. One of our solutions is to direct them to news articles on our website written by a doctor in our Practice that outline current issues and offer strategies to manage the problem and links to relevant, reputable websites”.