We’re often told, if unwell, get to the doctor and they will deal with our health and wellbeing issue. The doctor will often give a diagnosis, treatment options and other assistance through referrals and follow up. But it is us as individuals that must make decisions and take action which ultimately drives the outcome.
Based on some American research it is important to remember that one of the biggest determinants on our health (70%) are the decisions we make regarding wellbeing and lifestyle choices. It goes on to say that the remaining factors can vary between:
- Genetics: It’s important to know family history and our vulnerability to certain illness/disease.
- Environment: What we are exposed to (trauma, poverty, stressors). Living and working in regional WA can be tough dealing with such things as isolation, extreme climates and working with machinery.
- The health system: Tyranny of distance and a lack of male friendly services exacerbates this.
Undoubtedly the major impact is lifestyle choices! Reinforcing our takeaway message… my health and wellbeing is my responsibility…
We say our overall health and wellbeing is made up of physical, mental and social/spiritual aspects and to maintain all three, we as individuals need to be the driver. Whether dealing with situational distress, physical health problems, a diagnosed mental illness or an issue impacting our social/spiritual wellbeing (challenges around identity, meaning and purpose or our sense of belonging), the doctor will provide the framework to follow but decisions and changes ultimately need to be made by us.
Making informed decisions are a part of life, whether it’s to do with family, work and social activities, why then should our health and wellbeing be any different? Blokes in general are action orientated but making decisions and acting on things that can negatively impact our wellbeing can be put off. The warrior attitude is an admirable attribute especially when dealing with sporting, business or seasonal adversity. However, this same attitude can lead to negligence and not putting ourselves first. We have all seen the numerous health campaigns “A simple test could save your life”, “don’t delay” or “know your score”, but we also constantly hear similar comments from blokes when discussing health and wellbeing issues:
- It won’t happen to me / she’ll be right.
- We know the issues, but we don’t want to show ourselves as the only one with a problem.
- I will just see how it goes (the back pain I’ve had for 6 months).
The buck stops with us blokes to be the decision maker on health and wellbeing issues, it’s not the doctor’s, wife’s or employers’ responsibility, but ours! Remember the three C’s of life: Choices, Chances, Changes. You must make a choice to take a chance, or your life will never change.
Diet, exercise and sleep are three areas you can start making some simple changes to help improve your health and wellbeing outcomes and remember a routine service visit could reduce the risk of some expensive repairs down the track. Make an appointment with your GP to discuss your individual risk factors, don’t wait till it becomes a chronic health problem.
The Regional Men’s Health Initiative Team