Men's Health - Nick Cooling

We're hearing a lot more talk about the problems with men's health. Some call it a crisis. When you ask most people what they mean by men's health problems, they usually come up with prostrate cancer, suicide, heart disease, drug and alcohol addiction, injuries...

But what are your priorities? What resources do you need to sort out these problems? And what are the barriers you face to getting the help you need?

Over the coming months I hope to deal with these questions and look at what it actually means to be a well man. I look forward to your active involvement in this forum.

When I talk of "health", I mean more than the absence of disease. Health is about being able to reach your true potential and adapt to change. It's not just a question of having good medical care to treat you when you're sick. It's also about the other things that affect your health like the environment, community networks, economic development and housing. This means improving health can involve a whole range of medical or complementary therapies, advice, lifestyle changes and community development programs.

We also can't afford to treat health in isolation from other men's issues. Work, education, spirituality, relationships and parenting all have a big impact on the health of a bloke. In a recent survey of men's groups in Hobart men said the three biggest health issues for them were relationships, spirituality and stress.

These more "psychological" issues are assuming greater importance to more men and that's why the very successful Hobart-based Men's Health and Well Being Program (Williams, 1994) focused on three things: relationships, self-awareness and emotions.

Finally, the traditional models of masculinity often lead men to inherently unhealthy behaviour. The sorts of things I'm talking about here are stoicism, competitiveness, ambition, sense of responsibility, necessity to provide and the relative failure to express emotions. So, if we are to address the issue of men's health, we must look at the very nature of what it means to be a man.

To give you an idea of the issues I hope to deal with in future articles, I've drawn up a list of the most important health issues based on my discussions with many Australian men. Let me know if there are other issues you think are important. I'm also keen to get feedback and hear from you. I hope this area of the site can be of real and practical benefit to many men. Good health!

    • Stress
    • Prostate disease
    • Risk-taking behaviour
    • The effect of gender on men's health
    • How to rate your health
    • Overwork and unemployment - both are harmful
    • Guts - burps, farts, bums and gut aches
    • Back pain
    • Sexual health
    • Sexual identity
    • Heart disease
    • A "Well Man's Check" - preventative health
    • Caring for yourself
    • Body image and shape
    • Exercise and fitness
    • Violence
    • Accidents - including work injuries
    • Sleep and sleep disorders
    • Food - feeding the engine
    • Drugs, alcohol and other harmful substances
    • Addictions - workaholism, pornography, gambling
Nick Cooling is the Senior Medical Officer at the Clarence Community Health Centre in Hobart, Tasmania. The Centre runs a men's health service. Nick works as a family physician with an emphasis on health promotion and community development. His special interests include male risk-taking behaviour and male survivors of sexual abuse. He can often be found climbing a rock face or trekking the wilderness of south-west Tasmania. His home in Geilston Bay has become a haven for untoward travellers, especially Canadians, with whom he has a strong affinity.

Current Articles
Dealing With Stress
Gaseous Outlets
When Your Prostrate Goes Wrong

Questions and Comments
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Updated 2/4/2004