Southern Cross highlights men's health issues

Southern Cross highlights men's health issues | Insurance Business New Zealand

Southern Cross highlights men's health issues

A report by Southern Cross has pointed out New Zealand men’s hesitance to seek help for medical issues and urged men to be more mindful of their physical and mental health.

The insurance and health society’s 2022 Healthy Futures Report showed that 14% of men didn’t seek medical treatment the last time they felt unwell, and 21% didn’t seek treatment for dental pain.

Matthew Clark, chief medical officer for Southern Cross Healthcare, said that New Zealand men are not taking care of their health and wellbeing as well as they could be.

“The Healthy Futures 2022 Report reveals some worrying insights into men’s attitudes to health and wellbeing,” Clark said. “The ‘grin and bear it’ attitude is still an issue when it comes to New Zealand men taking their health seriously.”

The biennial Healthy Futures Report surveyed more than 5,000 people to gain insights on New Zealanders’ health and wellbeing, encompassing physical, mental and emotional aspects. It examined indicators such as nutrition, exercise, sleep, relationships, stress, travel, work-life balance and social connection.

Southern Cross said it had some concerning findings in men’s attitudes to mental and emotional wellbeing, with 20% of men saying they do not prioritise their mental health, compared to only 12% of women.

When asked about ways that men look after their emotional wellbeing, 20% said they would not consider talking to a friend or family member, 3% higher than in 2020. Only 18% said they connect with like-minded people – down 5% since 2020. These figures were higher than the same responses for women, which were 12% and 25%, respectively.

“These results indicate that, despite the attitude shift in recent times, New Zealand men are reluctant to have conversations about mental and emotional health and wellbeing,” Clark said. “Unfortunately, men in New Zealand still believe in bottling up emotions and keeping things to themselves. For example, it’s thought that men are just as likely as women to experience mental health concerns such as depression, but they are much less likely to ask for help.”

Southern Cross said now is an ideal opportunity to talk to male loved ones about their health and wellbeing, following Father’s Day and Mental Health Awareness Week in September and the upcoming Movember, a month-long moustache-growing event to raise awareness about men’s health issues in November.

“Friends and whānau play an important role in providing support,” Clark said. “This is true when someone is unwell, but also to create a safe space for open conversations if anyone has concerns such as seeing a change in behaviour or something physical.”