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International Men’s Day

by Sandra Issar

International Men’s Day (Thursday 19 November) is an opportunity to raise awareness of the health issues that affect men and the advice and support available.

Protect yourself from Covid-19

Today is a chance to raise awareness of the fact that men are twice as likely to die from Covid-19 than women. This is believed to be due to a number of factors such as lifestyle choices and behaviours.

Men are encouraged to protect themselves and others from Covid-19, by regular hand washing with soap and water or use sanitiser, and following social distancing advice.

It’s important to stay at home as much as possible and if you do develop any symptoms; high temperature, new, continuous cough or loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – to self-isolate and arrange for a test through nhs.uk/coronavirus or ring 119. It’s also vital to self-isolate if you are asked to do so by the NHS Test and Trace service.

Look after your mental health

Being in lockdown and not having your usual freedom can have a negative impact on how you are feeling, you may be feeling anxious, stressed, worried or lacking motivation. There is lots of information, advice and support available to help you look after your own mental health and wellbeing

The online campaign Kind to Your Mind has a wealth of expert advice and useful resources around looking after your mental health. There are some great podcasts including with Andy Cole (ex-premier league footballer), where he discusses how men can look after their mental health at this difficult time.

The online wellbeing portal, ALMA, has a range of free online therapy programmes, which include short modules on dealing with stress, getting better sleep, improving resilience, and coping with your emotions during the pandemic.

Stay Alive App

Sadly, suicide is the single most common cause of death in men under 45 and the rate of suicide is highest in middle aged men.

Stay Alive, the suicide prevention app, is designed to help both those who are having suicidal thoughts and those who are concerned about someone else.

It has several features including a safety plan and LifeBox where people can upload images or videos that remind them of their reasons to stay alive. The app also directs people to local help and gives people the tools to start a conversation about mental health and suicide.

The Stay Alive app, which is available free on iOS and Android devices, has been updated with changes to services in Knowsley following the Coronavirus pandemic.

Samaritans is a safe place to talk 24 hours a day about whatever is troubling you. Call 116 123 or visit the Samaritans website.

Worried about cancer symptoms? 

If you’ve had unexplained blood that doesn’t come from an obvious injury (such as blood in your poo or pee), an unexplained lump, weight loss which feels significant to you or an unexplained pain that lasts three weeks or more, it could be a sign of cancer.

Men are encouraged to seek advice from their GP, if they are suffering with any of these symptoms.

It’s probably nothing serious, but finding cancer early makes it more treatable, so just speak to your GP. Your NHS is there to see you, safely.

In the UK, about 1 in 8 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer.

The three main risk factors for getting prostate cancer are getting older (it mainly affects men aged 50 or over), having a family history of prostate cancer and being black.

If you have any of the risk factors, or have concerns, speak to your GP. They can talk to you about your risk, and about the tests that are used to diagnose prostate cancer.

Most men with early prostate cancer don’t have any signs or symptoms. If you do notice changes in the way you urinate, this is more likely to be a sign of a very common non-cancerous problem called an enlarged prostate, or another health problem. But it’s still a good idea to get it checked out.

Testicular cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in young men. It is a highly treatable cancer if diagnosed and treated early.

Regular checks can help detect any early changes – changes in shape, or size, or a lump that wasn’t there before – and if something doesn’t seem right go and see the GP.