An article on the BBC website explores why more men suicide than women, provides another interesting look at the issue, though there are some useful additions that can be made.
Relationship breakdown is one of the most significant factors in male suicide, accounting for about 25% of male suicides in Australia. We know that this also correlates strongly with a loss of access to children, and there is strong anecdotal evidence that the risk for men who get appropriate support through that breakdown and loss of access to their children, does drop significantly. Parents Beyond Breakup run an excellent program, now available in Hobart and Launceston, that provides such support to men.
It's time we move past the simplistic idea that men don't talk and they don't seek help. As with many things, there is truth there, but there's more to it. Men do talk, when given the right environment and context in which to do so. In my experience when the environment is safe, it can be difficult to shut them up. We need to create environments and contexts that seek to engage men in ways that appeal to them, that work with the strengths of their psychology and character. As we know from the men's shed movement, shoulder to shoulder conversation can be more appealing to men. Perhaps this suggests a walk in the park, rather talk across the counselling table might work better for some?
The article cites Mates in Construction whose programs work because they change the culture. Not only do they encourage men to share things of a personal nature, they also make it important for others to do the asking. The more significant culture change is the creation of a more supportive workplace, where people check in on each other. Colleagues know what is happening in each other's lives and can ask, genuinely, how someone is travelling. The emphasis is not on the man to change, to talk more, to seek help, but rather on the people around him, and well designed male-friendly services to support him through those challenging times and to connect him with professional help when it is needed.
In Tasmania, OzHelp Tasmania offers similar programs and services in various trades and worksites. Mates4Mates is also meeting returned services people in ways, contexts and with the language that appeals to their client group.
Men's Resources Tasmania can talk to your organisation about how you can create male-friendly services.
Don't forget that support is available if you, or someone you know is struggling with issues around suicide. Visit the Urgent Assistance page on the MRT website for contacts.
Lifeline on 13 11 14
Mensline Australia 1300 78 99 78
I was surprised to receive another special present from the Australian Health Department recently. It seemed like only minutes since I had turned 52. I thought it was supposed to be a five year combined celebration, but it turns out we young middle aged folk need to have our bowels screened every 2 years now.
Bowel cancer (also known as colorectal cancer) is the third most common type of newly diagnosed cancer in Australia, and the second biggest cancer killer of Australians (5375) each year. 55% of bowel cancer diagnoses are in men, however currently only about 39% of men in the 50-74 years age range take up the screening opportunity. The risk to men in our 50's is actually 45% higher than it is for women.
The good news of course is that bowel cancer can generally be successfully treated if caught early. So don't put off using your present from the Government. It could save your life. So what are the signs and symptoms? Abdominal pain, changing bowel habits, blood in your poo or unexplained weight loss.
If you are showing any of these, or other concerning symptoms, visit your GP. For more information and support about cancers generally, visit the Cancer Council Tas website including support groups. The Cancer Council Cancer Services Directory also provides a good portal to find out more.
So if your mate is turning 50, or has an even numbered birthday - check in and see if he got his present. Anyway, what's not to like about sending a little something back to the Government?
Bowel Cancer Australia: facts
The Australian Men's Health Forum (AMHF) is seeking nominations for the 2018 AMHF Men’s Health Awards. These prestigious awards, which honour those who have made an outstanding contribution to the men's health field, will be presented at National Men’s Health Gathering Dinner on Tuesday 13 November 2018 at the Novotel Parramatta, NSW.
Closing date: Monday 1st October 2018
There will be six award categories in 2018:
Submissions Closes Friday, 31st August, 2018
The Australian Men's Health Forum (AMHF) is offering twenty (20) scholarships of $625 each to Male Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Workers to attend the 9th National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Male Health Convention, to be held at Novotel Parramatta, NSW on the 12th and 13th November, 2018.
Eligibility: Applicants must be an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander male, who is working in male a health or related area. Applicants must be able to fully participate in the convention and be able to take information and share it with their respective community. Will be able to provide an oral presentation if there is an emergency cancellation. Will be available to chair or act as a scribe to report on concurrent sessions or other duties during the Gathering. Application Process
What a great article in the Sydney Morning Herald on the weekend.
“I don’t think that suicide should be viewed as a purely psychiatric issue. The idea that suicide is always the consequence of a definable mental illness continues to dominate the public consciousness despite a growing consensus among the academic community that there is much more at play.”
Situational Distress is the term being applied to looking at suicide from a broader perspective than purely mental health. Programs like Dads in Distress (now an organisation called Parents Beyond Breakup (PBB) provide one critical way to see the issue outside of a mental health paradigm. Research shows relationship breakdown is a factor in about 25% of male suicides.
Men’s Resources Tas is working with others including Primary Health Tasmania to bring some key people to Tas in hopefully late June, to run a forum on working with men with these issues and perspectives. We'd like to see PBB establishing a foothold here in Tassie. These groups are volunteer run and essentially operate through men who have been through relationship breakdown and possibly lost access to children for some time, being facilitators.
Prior to that the Tas Suicide Prevention Community Network of which I am a part are also bringing Zac Siedler – an academic and psychologist who established Man Island, amongst others to the Tas Suicide Prevention Forum in May. His focus is on engaging men.
There is a program running through the network of Neighbourhood Houses, called SuicideTALK. This is a 90 minute chat aimed at just starting those conversations, breaking down the stigma, giving people the vocabulary to talk about suicide in a constructive way. To date the sessions have had largely women attending, and we are keen to try the talks in more male dominated spaces. Dates are available here, and it would be great to see others come along – just register with the House. If anyone would like a talk in your workplace get in touch, we can probably arrange it – not for free, but it doesn’t need to cost a lot.
If this post has raised any difficult thoughts or emotions for you, help is available at:
Lifeline 131 114
MensLine 1300 789 978
Beyondblue 1300 224 636
Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467
In November this year, the National Men's Health Gathering, incorporating the National Men's Health Conference, and the National Indigenous Men's Health Conference will Reconvene for the first time in 3 years. This is an important event. The First National Men's Health Policy is now over 7 years old, men are in the spotlight, often for the wrong reasons, though there is a growing conversation recognising that men, and boys benefit from considered and well implemented support. The male suicide rate is gradually getting some recognition. Is there beginning to be a level of empathy for some high profile men - Steve Smith for example - who have made errors of judgement - with an understanding that mental illness is a real threat when they are subject to an unrelenting public profile?
Men's Resources Tasmania would like to encourage innovative programs, services, individuals and organisations to sell their wares at the coming National Conference. Tassie needs to be well represented, to ensure we can bring home some innovations from elsewhere. However we frequently lead the way. Which innovative Tassie programs and services, supporting men and boys really well, would you like to see represented at the National Men's Health Gathering? We'd love to hear your thoughts...
Anyone interested can submit an abstract here.
Or Click Here if your organisation is interested in being a sponsor.
Don't forget if this Blog has raised difficult issues for you:
Lifeline: 13 11 14
Mensline Australia: 1300 78 99 78
The Tasmanian Men’s Gathering (TMG) is a yearly event for up to 80 men held in late summer at a camping and bunkhouse-style outdoor venue. The Gathering brings together men from a wide range of backgrounds and life experience. It creates themes and constructs activities with the purpose of allowing men to find real connection, support and self-knowledge. Men move between large and small groups that go from wider explorations of life’s struggles and successes to individual interactions where real communication happens. There is food, music and art and the amazing feeling that these men will not only accept, acknowledge and appreciate you, but will open their lives for you.
This year’s gathering will be at Camp Woodfield, a scenic, self-contained facility surrounded by bushland just a half-hour north of Hobart. Participants have a choice of staying in bunkhouses or bringing their own camping gear or caravan. Three meals a day are provided by a professional caterer and a team of volunteers. A large teepee is erected to hold the main group functions and activities. This year’s theme is “Dancing with Fire,” a phrase meant to evoke energy, power, wisdom and skill.
Many of the Gathering’s participants and most of its organisers have been been to multiple TMGs over its 20-year history and/or have men’s work, health or counselling experience. The Gatherings are developed and run by these men who have gotten so much out of their experience at these events. They return year after year to create new content, manage the logistics, monitor the health and safety of participants and staff the kitchen and dining facilities.
Several times over the course of the long weekend the large group disperses into small groups. These are led by trained and seasoned participants to ensure the safety and confidentiality of discussions and that everyone is heard. Many participants find these groups to be the most rewarding part of the TMG.
But above all, Tasmanian Men’s Gatherings are about having a great time, finding our joyful and creative sides and making connections that will last a lifetime. No Gathering is complete without music, entertainment and laughter. Sunday night is given over to creative contributions from anyone and everyone who might feel the spark. We won’t tell you that this is a life-changing weekend. But if you want change in your life, or a way to make it richer, there is hardly a better place to make it happen.
To find out more or to register your place, go to the Tasmen website.
Great to see the latest edition of Man2Man hitting the press. meet the new CEO and check the latest listing of services and support in Tassie.
A information session for men - come and find out how to manage your future health from experts in their field, as well as how Cancer Council Tasmania can support you.