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Men's Healthcare Q2 2023

Initiatives helping men across Ireland take a closer look at their health

Medical physician talking to his patient.
Medical physician talking to his patient.
iStock / Getty Images Plus / PeopleImages

Finian Murray

Senior Health Promotion and Improvement Officer, HSE

Males constitute almost 50% of the population on the island of Ireland and, therefore, deserve to have a gender lens focused on their specific health needs.

Research shows that men experience a high burden of ill health and die too young. Their poorer lifestyles are responsible for a high proportion of chronic diseases and men’s late presentation to health services can lead to a large number of problems becoming untreatable.

Policy supporting men’s health

In response, the Republic of Ireland developed a National Men’s Health Policy — the first country in the world to do so. The Policy recognised the important role played by service providers and local practitioners in improving the health of men and boys and acknowledged that these stakeholders also have training and support needs.

Men are (contrary to public perception)
interested in their health.

In 2017, the Policy was followed by a Healthy Ireland – Men Action Plan. This action plan has been reviewed and updated. It provides both the bedrock of and a mandate for a focus on men’s health needs.

Men’s health initiatives in Ireland

There are many practical initiatives which have been piloted in Ireland to improve men’s health. These include:

  • Men’s Health Week, which runs from 12th to 18th June (Father’s Day).
  • Farmers Have Hearts, run by Irish Heart Foundation and supported by HSE and Glanbia, aims to promote and support health behaviour change to improve the cardiovascular health of Irish farmers.
  • Men on the Move is a physical activity and lifestyle programme that targets overweight men to engage in exercise and improve their mental health.
  • HSE ‘Engaging Men’ and ‘Masculinities and Men’s Health’ webinars are run four times a year, covering topics such as the ‘what,’ ‘why,’ ‘when’ and ‘how’ of men’s health.
  • Cairde (Construction Alliance to Reduce Suicide) was set up to investigate why construction workers are at higher risk of suicide and develop suicide prevention training and resources for the Irish construction industry.
  • One of the best initiatives is the Engage National Men’s Health Training Programme. The course, called ‘Engage – Connecting with Men’, is a one-day workshop offered to a broad range of practitioners. It aims to increase participants’ understanding of best practices when seeking to connect males with health and social services. Following a train-the-trainer programme in 2022, HSE Health Promotion and Improvement staff are now running workshops for frontline health and social care staff throughout the country.

    These initiatives, and more, demonstrate that men are (contrary to public perception) interested in their health — if we offer them the right things in the right ways.
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