The nexus between masculinity and men’s health: National Men’s Health Gathering Nov 18

In November, the Freemasons Foundation Centre for Men’s Health hosted an invited session at the 2018 National Men’s Health Gathering meeting in Parramatta on “The nexus between masculinity and health – changing the discourse”.

The session was led by Professor Gary Wittert, and facilitated by Professor Deborah Turnbull from the Centre.

We were honoured to have as our guest speakers;

Prof John Macdonald, Director of the Men’s Health Information and Resource Centre, Western Sydney University, and esteemed leader in men’s health and the social determinants of men’s health and well-being, and

Mr Zac Seidler of the ManIsland Project, Health Psychologist and PhD candidate in the School of Psychology at the University of Sydney, and an emerging leader in men’s mental health and masculinity.

The Freemasons Foundation Centre for Men’s Health has had a long-standing interest in masculinity and men’s health, particularly in the context of how health services should be delivered to meet the needs and preferences of men.  Much of the original contributions to this field arose from research undertaken by now Associate Professor James Smith as part of his PhD in Adelide, and who continues to be a key advocate for men’s health in Australia.(listen to 2018 Medical Journal of Australia podcast )

An abstract of the session is provided below and a video of the session will be available on the Centre’s website early in 2019.

Typical masculinity, characterised by concern with strength and capacity for hard physical work, income generation, sexual achievement, and appearances to others, tends to be viewed as an obstacle for appropriate health related behaviours. It is often framed in a negative connotation (e.g. “toxic masculinity”) as a “gender role ideology” and “needing to be addressed”.  We propose that such an approach to masculinity and how it relates to health outcomes is simplistic and stands in contrast to our observations that men do use health services and are interested in maintaining good health. Little emphasis is placed on considering men as men, understanding their need for patient-centred care and intervening in ways that recognise and capitalise on their strengths. For example, men can reasonably be viewed to construct their experiences of help-seeking in terms of being responsible, problem-solving and in control. The nexus between masculinity and health and its application to engaging men in health care and achieving better health outcomes across the life course and in differing socio-cultural contexts requires re-examination. Typical masculine behaviours are compatible with good health and can be leveraged for better health outcomes.


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