Time to ‘Man up’ – The forgotten world of men’s health

18 June 2012

Face paint, sheds and growing excessive body hair. Blokes are simple beasts when it comes to tactics used during men’s health campaigns. Or are they? Is it time to reconsider ways of raising health awareness for men?

It’s frankly not always a great prognosis to be a male. The odds of living a longer life are clearly skewed in a woman’s favour. Cancer rates are higher, alongside obesity, smoking, drinking, and depression. Bottom line; men don’t like going to the doctor, and they don’t always like admitting there is a problem.

In our business it’s about creating messages and campaigns that spur men into action. But when it comes to health awareness campaigns are we missing a trick in the way we communicate to men directly?

Women are often the channel. Target the female, as the primary care giver, and they will get the job done, (via their telepathic powers).

Greg Canning, a GP recently told the Sydney Morning Herald that many doctors surgeries appeared more female-friendly with magazines and posters aimed at women’s health, but what about the blokes? This was symbolic of the neglect of men’s health issues, he said.

While it makes sense to indirectly target men via their wives, children or mothers how do we get men to start thinking about their health in the first place?

Academics agree that while the Government has set aside funds to address ‘male health challenges’ men’s’ health remains often forgotten.

Solutions are not always obvious. Audiences, including men are becoming more discerning. Organisations such as Beyond Blue, the Prostate Cancer Foundation and the Cancer Council have carved out successful targeted men’s health campaigns. The Government has also invested in the Menshed Australia Association taking the conversation from the couch to the backyard, with positive results.

But with an already cluttered market of health messages is it time we considered new tactics in the way we get their attention. Free beer not included.

Sarah Prestwood is an Associate Director at H+K Strategies

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