To mark World Health Day, the Movember Foundation recently suggested you take one small step for the good of your health, simply by committing some time to your mates. After all, it doesn’t take much to get in touch with your friends and let them know you’re around if they need you, yet it can be really beneficial to all of you.
The importance of men having a strong social network was highlighted recently in research funded by the Movember Foundation back in Australia (where the men’s health movement has its hairy origins) which showed that Australian men in general become lonelier as they reach their 30s and life increasingly gets in the way of time with their mates. Although this might not feel like a big deal to some people, this lack of social connection means that men are actually at a higher risk of mental health problems, even suicide. So get out on the golf course (the box!), down your local or have some mates round to watch the football; just get talking.
The Men’s Social Connectedness report, funded by the Movember Foundation, found that millions of Australian men have few or no social connections. This is something that we’re committed to changing and we will – through relevant programme funding and the awareness raised by our Movember campaign each year. We want men to avoid losing their friends or feeling isolated; to instead have a positive and healthy social balance between family, work and friends.
For anyone umming and ahhing whether you should make time for your mates, the answer is simple. The research shows that there is a clear relationship between lack of social connectedness and psychological distress. The importance of good communication between father and son was even highlighted as a protective factor from social disconnectedness right through to later life. Yet the survey revealed that an alarming 79% of men believe that their friends wouldn’t be able to help them deal with the personal issues they may be facing, so they would be unlikely to bring it up.
Adam Garone, Movember Foundation CEO and co-founder, encourages men on World Health Day to reach out to their mates and stay connected:
“Movember itself started with friends getting together, growing Mo’s and having fun. This friendship has been essential to help create conversations and change the face of men’s health. Today on World Health Day (7 April) we’re reminded once again of its importance. Strong social networks can protect against depression, anxiety and suicide. We’re proud to support this significant and compelling research but we all need to use these findings to take action. Maintaining good friendships is of benefit to us blokes, as well as our mates. Whether catching up, watching the game or sending a quick message, it doesn’t take much to stay healthy and stay connected.”