Ministers Simon Harris TD & Catherine Byrne TD launch Men’s Health Week 2018

Today, Minister for Health, Simon Harris TD, and Minister of State for Health Promotion, Catherine Byrne TD, launched Men’s Health Week 2018, which runs from Monday 11th until Sunday 17th June.

This year’s celebrity ‘Men’s Health Ambassadors’ Brent Pope and Jamesie O’Connor are also helping to raise awareness of Men’s Health Week 2018 by drawing upon their own personal experiences of taking small steps to overcome health difficulties.

Men’s Health Week (MHW) aims to heighten awareness of preventable health problems, support men and boys to engage in healthier lifestyles, and encourage the early detection and treatment of health difficulties.  This year, MHW has borrowed from Astronaut Neil Armstrong’s immortal phrase: ‘One small step for man. One giant leap for mankind’,  and is asking men ‘what’s your small step going to be?’. By taking at least one small step to improve their own health and the health of males throughout the country, it is hoped that this will lead to a giant leap for men’s health.

Speaking about Men’s Health Week, Minister for Health, Simon Harris TD said:

“This is a great opportunity to prompt men and boys across Ireland to look after their own health and wellbeing.  I would encourage everyone to take small steps to live healthier lives and to ensure they get regular check-ups.  Initiatives such as Men’s Health Week are a key part of creating a society where everyone can enjoy physical and mental health, and where wellbeing is valued and supported.”

‘Men’s Health Ambassadors’, Brent Pope and Jamesie O’Connor, are helping to raise awareness of Men’s Health Week 2018 by drawing upon their own personal experiences of taking small steps to overcome health difficulties.

Jamesie O’Connor, former GAA player and current pundit said:

“I am delighted to support Men’s Health Week because as a teacher and a coach, I see the importance of challenging unhelpful stereotypes and supporting boys and young men to develop good habits in relation to their health early in life.  When boys are encouraged and supported to mind their physical and mental wellbeing then it becomes normal to them throughout their lives.  Parents, teachers and coaches all need to work together to set boys on the right track to good health.”

Brent Pope, rugby pundit and well known mental health advocate added:

“As somebody who has suffered with severe anxiety most of my life, I want to see more men get a better understanding and awareness of their own mental health so they can live healthier lives and be able to maintain their health and wellbeing.  I always felt less of a man for asking for help and I don’t want others to feel that way. Unlike in my day, today, there are great organisations and resources out there that can help, such as yourmentalhealth.ie, and organisations that want to reach out specifically to men.”

Men’s Health Week offers an opportunity for a broad range of health professionals, service providers, youth groups, sporting bodies, community organisations, employers, Churches, policy makers, family workers and pharmacists to do something practical to improve the health of local men and boys. Each year, Men’s Health Week (MHW) begins on the Monday before Father's Day and ends on Father's Day itself.  This year, it will run from Monday 11th until Sunday 17th June.

On average, Irish men die four and a half years younger than women

As the first country in the world to adopt a National Men’s Health Policy - and a dedicated Healthy Ireland Men’s Action Plan - Ireland has been a long standing international leader in the field of men’s health. Despite the ground-breaking achievements made in Ireland, men still experience higher death rates than women for all the leading causes of death and die, on average, four and a half years younger.  This has wide-reaching repercussions which stretch far beyond the life satisfaction of men themselves, and impacts upon the women in their lives, their families, friends, work colleagues, industry and the economy. 

Even small, simple changes can result in significant health improvements for men, and to support the ‘small steps’ key message during Men’s Health Week 2018, MHFI has produced a free 32 page Man Manual.  Titled ‘Challenges and Choices’, this publication poses ten practical challenges to men, explains why action is needed in each area, and offers the reader a range of simple and realistic actions to improve their health.  To date, over 100,000 hard copies of this booklet have been read by Irish men.

Dr Stephanie O’Keeffe, National Director, HSE, Strategic Planning and Transformation explained:

“Evidence clearly shows that men’s health can be improved in many significant ways - if men are offered positive choices, and are given the support, encouragement and opportunities to succeed.  The ‘Challenges and Choices’ publication provides the information and the tools, while Men’s Health Week offers the opportunity and a launch pad to make a real change.  The HSE is working with organisations such as the Men’s Development Network, the Irish Men’s Sheds Association, Sport Ireland and the Irish Heart Foundation in order to deliver programmes to men at community level and to support other health and social services in their work targeting men.”

Throughout Men’s Health Week, a number of themes (see Editor’s Notes) will be highlighted each day, and a range of events will take place nationwide organised by many of the 70 partner organisations and local groups involved. 

Men’s Health Week is celebrated in many European countries, as well as in the USA, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and a number of other places worldwide.  It is coordinated on the island of Ireland by the Men’s Health Forum in Ireland (MHFI), and supported by HSE, Health Promotion and Improvement.

Last updated on: 08 / 06 / 2018