Men’s Health Awareness Month takes place in November every year, after a group of 30 men started it in Australia 20 years ago. Men die on average four years earlier than women, so Movember aims to highlight some of the issues that affect them, such as prostate and testicular cancer, and mental health problems.
The statistics are stark. Around 10.8 million men globally have received a prostate cancer diagnosis, with testicular cancer as the most common cancer among young men. Turning to mental health issues, across the world one man dies by suicide every minute of every day, with males accounting for 69% of all suicides.
How to play your partIf you want to get involved in raising awareness of men’s health issues, the Movember movement has developed an action checklist of five things men can do to protect themselves and help others.
1) Stay connected and spend time with people who make you feel goodRegularly meet up with friends and spend time catching up with them. This can help boost your mental health and ensure you have people to turn to if you’re struggling.
2) Talk moreBe there for your friends and contacts, so they know they can talk to you if they are ever in trouble or need someone to listen. If you think they are struggling mentally, but are unwilling to talk to you about it, it may be worth letting them know about other sources of support, such as the mental health charity Mind.
3) Know the numbersOnce you reach the age of 50, you should talk to your doctor about prostate cancer, and see if you should get tested. This age limit reduces to 45 if your father or brother has had prostate cancer, or if you are of African or Caribbean descent.
4) Check your testiclesRegularly check your testicles for any changes and if you spot any unusual lumps or bumps, get checked out by your doctor.
5) Move moreMake some time in your daily routine for regular exercise to help you stay healthy.
Ways to protect yourself financiallyWhatever steps you might take to look after your mental and physical health, unfortunately there are no guarantees that you’ll always stay well. You may therefore want to explore ways to protect you and your loved ones financially in case the worst happens.
Protection policies can help to reduce some of the financial strain that conditions like cancer can create. For example, critical illness policies usually not only cover cancer when it has reached the full-blown invasive level but will also often provide a smaller additional payment if you’re diagnosed with less advanced levels of both testicular and prostate cancer.
Insurer definitions around these covers and the levels of payments providers offer have improved greatly in recent years, with some providers offering lump sum payments of around £25-£30k if you’re diagnosed with low grade prostate cancer. These payments can make all the difference to the mental health of a patient receiving that diagnosis, in terms of allowing them to focus on what matters most, rather than worrying about the financial impact of their diagnosis.
Income protection is another option you might want to consider and can ensure that your mortgage and bills can continue to be paid should stress, anxiety or depression mean you are unable to work – again lessening the financial burden while you focus on getting better.
Extra benefitsIt’s worth noting that protection policies don’t only provide policyholders with financial support. Many of them come with a wide range of additional benefits, such as remote GP access – allowing easy access to referrals and diagnosis without the need to take time off work or attend in person, which can be a big barrier to men seeking help.
Several providers also offer access to counselling or wellbeing support online or via an app. These benefits are often not only available to the policyholder but also to family as well.
You can find out more about how to protect yourself and your family should the worst happen here