Men’s health in rural regions ‘a balancing act’

TAKE CARE: The Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine is encouraging men in the bush to prioritise their health on the back of Men's Health Week.
TAKE CARE: The Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine is encouraging men in the bush to prioritise their health on the back of Men's Health Week.

MEN in the bush are being urged to prioritise their health. 

On the back of Men’s Health Week, June 12-18, the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM) is encouraging more men to engage with preventative health.

Men’s Health Week raises awareness of men’s health, and promotes activities and events to engage men and boys in health-related activities.

Men in rural industries are at higher risk of accidental injury, and higher rates of mortality from preventable cancers.

According to the Men’s Health website, “men take their lives at four times the rate of women”.

Dr Graham Fleming, a rural GP and ACRRM member, acknowledges that generations of rural men have learnt to work hard, be resourceful, take risks and generally be unemotional due to economic survival.

“Rural men shun any sense of emotional involvement or weakness. It is easy for them to say ‘she’ll be right mate, I can manage it myself’. Actually going to see a doctor may be perceived as a sign of weakness,” Dr Fleming said.

“Rural men often fail to take preventative health measures and they have high rates of alcohol dependence, and the situation is compounded by difficulties in health care due to rural medical workforce shortages.” 

Men’s Health Week is an opportunity for men to reach out to rural health practitioners and discuss any physical or mental health issues that may be of concern.

It is also a time for men to reflect on their daily habits and consider ways to improve their overall health.

“There are many challenges to living rurally,” Dr Fleming said. 

“In a wealthy nation like Australia our health should be good.

“It is important for us all to prevent the development of disease.

“We need a healthy lifestyle and to respond early to signs that things are not right.”

Dr Fleming is encouraging rural and regional communities to engage men and boys in the conversation and cover a range of subjects such as:

  1. How to avoid cancer e.g. screening and regular check ups explaining how most common cancers can be prevented or cured with early detection.
  2. How to side steps strokes and heart attacks before it is too late.
  3. Common farm injuries and their prevention.
  4. Understanding the six reasons for poor mental health and the difference between mental illness and poor mental health.
  5. Successful suicide prevention strategies for the community.
  • If you or someone you know needs help, phone Lifeline 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue 1300 224636.