International Men’s Health Week is held every year in the middle of June. The event raises awareness of the challenges faced by men worldwide and sheds light on how the suffering of males in our communities has severe ramifications on society at large, from families and workplaces to hospitals, the welfare system and the economy.
While Men’s Health Week runs for just one week of the year, it offers an opportunity to run events that can be replicated year-round to improve the physical, emotional and mental health and wellbeing of men and boys. This opportunity was seized by the founder and Director of Mighty Ability, Wayne Stickel, an effectiveness and wellbeing coach who specialises in empowering men and people living with a disability. Wayne has developed a unique solution for men in partnership with a national healthcare body in Australia that has delivered some remarkable outcomes. This case study outlines the research that led Wayne to develop his course and the outcomes for three participants.
The global statistics paint an alarming picture of men’s health and highlight why awareness and the need for action and change are critical. For example, according to International Mens Day:
Men die an average of six years younger than women.
Men account for 93% of workforce fatalities.
Men account for three out of four suicides
Four out of five heart disease deaths under 65 are men.
One in four men dies of cancer.
With only 39% of men discussing healthy lifestyle issues with their GP, their challenges are often left undiagnosed, untreated and allowed to fester. Instead of seeking help, they can look for ways to self-medicate and drown out the pain with substances like alcohol or put on a brave face and soldier on until their health issue can no longer be ignored and it forces them to put self-care on the table. While many men perceive self-care as a sign of weakness or selfishness, taking self-care seriously is actually a sign of strength. It is not only critical for personal health and wellbeing but also supports individuals to contribute more effectively to others.
Another challenge when it comes to self-care for men, in particular, is that many available approaches focus on tips, techniques and quick-fix solutions that only address the surface-level behaviours rather than the root causes. For example, telling a man he needs at least eight hours of quality sleep a night does not give him access to the underlying reasons he is sleep deprived. Advice like this, while valid and well-intended, can cause men to feel guilty if they’re not meeting the recommended standard or cause them to rebel and tell themselves and others that it doesn’t apply to them.
For sustainable, transformative change, it is necessary to delve beneath the surface and discover the underlying, more subtle human qualities driving unhealthy behaviours and choices.
In his capacity as a wellbeing and effectiveness coach, Wayne considers what it is to be a human being and what it takes to live in the world as a man in his approach. He says, “We are vulnerable as human beings; we’re thrown into the world, and as men, we typically feel the weight of the world on our shoulders to live up to our traditional role as providers and protectors. It can be overwhelming to deal with, so self-care becomes a low priority on the to-do list. Then, when we do consider caring for ourselves, we look at addressing our physical needs alone. In reality, we need to look at self-care holistically as a complete human being: physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. There’s more to it than just brushing our teeth, wearing clean underwear and getting enough sleep.”
Sparked by last year’s Mens Health Week and his own independent studies, Wayne developed an eight-week online holistic self-care coaching program in partnership with a national healthcare body. The program is the result of his extensive work with various experts on self-care, including a national carer’s association representative, doctors, exercise physiologists, physiotherapists and other allied health professionals. Facilitated by Wayne, the course will run year-round and can be adapted to suit specific needs in group formats, including mixed groups.
Wayne has run several men’s groups; however, the 8-week self-care coaching program was the first of its kind. Based on participant feedback from the pilot workshop, the results have been outstanding. Here are a few examples:
- Participant 1 was in a job he disliked causing him to struggle in the workplace and feel unfulfilled. Fearful of change, he stayed in the role rather than seek alternative employment. His unfulfillment at work spilled over into his personal life, and he neglected himself by choosing unhealthy lifestyle choices, including a total lack of exercise. Since completing Wayne’s eight-week self-care program, he has been exercising daily and has integrated a meditation practice into his morning routine to set himself up for the day. He no longer fears change and proved that by resigning from his job and starting a new role he now enjoys.
- Participant 2 was going through a difficult divorce and had limited access to his children, causing him immense anguish. Learning he had no control over that situation, he found new hope in music, a lifelong passion. As an amateur musician, he had always dreamed of playing to a live audience and recording his music but lacked the courage and confidence to pursue his intention. During the first month of the online self-care course, he attended an open mic night and played to a live audience for the first time. By the end of the course, he was offered a paid gig and has released three songs on Spotify and Apple Music.
- Participant 3 entered the program in a financially secure position but lacked joy and fulfilment. He was riddled with anxiety, shame and guilt over his past and was constantly worried about what others thought of him. During the eight-week program, this participant thoroughly enjoyed the support of other men and found the course gave him the confidence to work with his psychologist and create his vision – an integral element of the online course – for the next 10 years of his life. Today he is motivated and energised to get the support he needs to create the life he wants, as documented in his vision. He continues to be coached by Wayne on an ongoing basis.
Men’s Health Week will be held from June 12 to 18 this year with a theme of healthy habits. If you would like to learn more about Wayne’s eight-week self-care program for men and when the next one will be run, you can reach out to Wayne here.