From awareness to action: shining the light on men’s health 


By Skills for Health | 13 June 2024

This week marks the 30th year of International Men’s Health Week. Started in the United States in 1994, it has since grown momentum, having been adopted by multiple countries across the world. It was created as an opportunity to address the disparities in men’s health and advocate for improved health education and today, serves as an important reminder for continuing the conversation.  

Despite advancements in healthcare, men continue to face health challenges that require targeted interventions and a proactive approach to overall wellness. This article explores the current state of men’s health, healthcare statistics, and actionable steps to improve health outcomes for men. In 2022, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported that there were more male deaths registered than female deaths (292,064 male and 285,096 female) for the third consecutive year; before 2020 this was last the case in 1981. It demonstrates the need for increased attention and awareness into men’s health and wellbeing. 

Common health concerns 

Recent healthcare statistics reveal important insights into the health status of men. According to the ONS, the average life expectancy for males in the UK is 78.6 years, which is slightly lower compared to females, who live on average to 82.8 years.  

  1. Cardiovascular disease: The leading causes of death among men of all ages is Ischaemic heart disease. Traditional cardiac risk factors are assumed to be mostly the same for men and women, although important differences in physiology and pathology have been observed. Men have generally less favourable cardiac risk factors than women e.g., smoking, low-fibre diet, low vitamin C levels, and high blood viscosity (National Library of Medicine).  
  2. Mental health: Mental health remains a growing concern, with men being three times more likely to die by suicide than women (Samaritans, 2022). Stigma around mental health issues often prevent men from seeking help. Mental health awareness campaigns and accessible support services are essential to address this issue. 
  3. Obesity: Carrying extra fat can contribute to various health problems, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes and high blood pressure (hypertension). Encouraging a healthy diet and regular physical activity is crucial. 
  4. Prostate and testicular cancer: These cancers are prevalent among men, with prostate cancer being the most common. Awareness and proactive screening can lead to early diagnosis and more effective treatment. 

By raising awareness and encouraging proactive health measures, we can improve health outcomes for men and ensure they lead healthier, happier lives. There are many tips and tricks that support a healthy lifestyle, all of which can be implemented to help improve men’s health.  

Steps for improving men’s health  

  1. Regular health screenings: Routine check-ups can help detect health issues early. Get regular screenings for blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and cancer markers. 
  2. Balanced diet and exercise: A nutritious diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains, combined with regular physical activity, can prevent many health problems. The NHS recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise a week or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity a week.  
  3. Mental health support: Sharing experiences and speaking openly about mental health fosters empathy, combats isolation, and creates a community, all of which can improve mental health and wellbeing.  
  4. Avoid smoking and limit alcohol consumption: Avoiding smoking and moderating alcohol intake can significantly improve overall health. The increased risks of cancer, heart disease and diabetes for smokers are well documented. Alcohol is a depressant which can disrupt neurotransmitters in the brain. Limiting consumption is a good step to improve health and wellbeing.  
  5. Building strong relationships: Strong social connections can improve mental health and provide emotional support. Invest in relationships with loved ones or join a local social group to connect with likeminded people. As well as individual health benefits, research shows that nature-based interventions can lead to improvements in social cohesion, social empowerment, and social support, reducing feelings of loneliness and social isolation (Royal College of Psychiatrists, 2024).  

There’s also growing popularity with Social Prescribing services, as it helps connects in people in their community to activities, groups, and services to meet the practical, social and emotional needs that affect their health and wellbeing.  

By raising awareness and encouraging proactive health measures, we can improve health outcomes for men and ensure they lead healthier, happier lives. 

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