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What Does Men's Health Actually Mean?
Developing a well-defined view of what health means is an important step in furthering the cause of 'men’s health' in Australia. The popular view of health tends towards medical aspects such heart or reproductive health, or 'lifestyle' health such as eating well or exercising regularly, or a behaviourist approach that aims to reduce violence, drinking or lack of exercise.
MHIRC’s view of health is much broader than any of those categories alone. Certainly, they are not wrong on their own but constitute only a small part of what it means to be healthy.
This means that 'health' is the product of factors in life that collectively add to or detract from connection to life. So a healthy man is one who has solid connections to the various environmental factors in his life, and conversely unhealthy men are those whose life connections have been eroded or severed.
Men's health at a glance (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare)(opens in a new window)
In 2009, MHIRC provided a submission to the Federal Government’s Senate Select Committee which provides some excellent background on MHIRC’s view of what men’s health means:
"Men’s health is about wellness, not just illness. This approach has been described as strength-based or salutogenic, rather than pathogenic. It is, in other words, that men’s health is not just about male-specific reproductive illnesses such as prostate cancer and erectile dysfunction, nor just about the negative sociology of maleness associated with male suicide, men and relationship breakdown, etc.
A strength-based approach seeks to find out what is health-enhancing in the contexts of men’s lives: their physical, emotional, social, psychological, spiritual and cultural environments. As such this approach emphasises prevention rather than cure."