CHAT WITH SIMON
We recently sat down with primary school teacher Simon to chat about why Australian men visit their doctor less than women, why taking care of your health shouldn’t be a burden, and how an early diagnosis of inexplicably high blood pressure at 31 changed his mindset on his own health.
Tell me about a time you were concerned about your own general health, and how has this changed your mindset towards health?
Diagnosis of inexplicably high blood pressure at a relatively young age (31) - I just have it because it's part of who I am. This changed my mindset in terms of understanding that health implications can be upon you quickly and without warning and without any real explanation. The adjustments, in my circumstances, were relatively minor but acted as a forewarning for other more serious health issues if I didn't take care of it in terms of self-monitoring, medication and regular check-ups.
What do you believe to be an important factor in maintaining good general health?
Diet. It's the big one. Adjusting what you eat and, most importantly, the quantities you eat especially as your lifestyle changes over time (for example, the amount of exercise or general movement you do).
When seeking health advice, what resources did you seek/pull from in order to gain an understanding of your circumstances?
Internet resources in general searches (no specific website), family doctor, male friends, health insurance and superannuation/life insurance companies (in terms of what personal responsibilities I have in order to maintain benefits/payouts for my family if I were to be injured/incapacitated or terminally ill).
Compared to women, Australian men visit their doctor less often, to what extent do you agree with this statement and why do you think that is?
Totally agree due to (perhaps) a fear around what might be said. There is always a sneaky suspicion that every ache or pain or inexplicable gripe could be something sinister or life changing/ending - the man flu gone crazy! By not going to the doctor you avoid hearing, what could be, bad news. News that would then be catastrophic for the immediate family that the male is one of (or the only) primary provider for. Then there is always the avoidance of fuss - perhaps men see themselves as the "fussers" of their families not the "fussees". Or it might be linked to a primitive invincibility complex innate in all males - harden up mate!
What tips could you provide to people who are trying to take better care of their health?
Don't make it a burden or all consuming. Make simple changes that fit with your work, your hobbies, and the things you enjoy doing. At the same time, perhaps try to be open to some new experiences - pilates anyone? Get someone else along for the ride - maybe a partner or a close friend. Keep it positive not punitive.