What is Men’s Health Week?


Reproduced with kind permission from Drug Info, State Library of NSW. Published on the Drug Info website in June 2022

Men's Health Week is celebrated around the world each June. It is aimed at raising awareness of some health issues unique to men and boys, as well as those which disproportionately affect men. The week also promotes the importance of healthy living for all men and provides educational opportunities about some of the risk factors impacting on men's health.

This year, Men's Health Week is celebrated between 13-19 June. Learn more about the initiative, and look for community events taking place near you, at the Australian Men's Health Week website.

Where does alcohol fit in?

Drinking alcohol at harmful levels has a significant impact on the health and well being of Australians. The NSW Men's Health Framework lists alcohol as one of the modifiable risk factors contributing to the burden of disease on our health system. Alcohol use contributed to the burden of 30 diseases and injuries, including alcohol use disorders, 8 types of cancer, and chronic liver disease.

Alcohol's impact on health goes beyond disease: 10-15% of hospital presentations nationally are alcohol related, while 1 in 4 of all Australian road fatalities can be attributed to drink driving.

In 2019, 3.7% of all deaths in NSW were attributable to alcohol.

How does this affect men?

While problematic use of alcohol affects women as well as men, in many categories of concern men are disproportionately represented. Men's Health Week is an opportunity to remind men about the importance of healthy attitudes towards alcohol consumption.

Alcohol at a glance 

The 2018 Australian Burden of Disease study (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare)

  • Among adults aged 25-44, Alcohol use disorders were ranked fourth [of overall health burden] in men (6.0%), but was not in the top 10 for women.
  • Of non-fatal burden of health, alcohol use disorders rank 1st among men aged 15-24 (10.7%), and 2nd among men aged 25-44 (9.2%). For women aged 15-24 it is 8th (4.5%), and not in the top 10 for women aged 25-44.

The 2019 National Drug Strategy Household Survey (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare)

  • 71% of survey respondents in 2019 who exceeded the lifetime risk guideline for alcohol (an average of more than two standard drinks per day) were males.
  • 66% of survey respondents who exceeded the single occasion risk guideline (more than 4 drinks in a single occasion at least once a month) were males.
  • 76% of survey respondents who drank 11 or more standard drinks in a single occasion at least once a month were males. 

Alcohol and mental health

There are also strong associations between alcohol problems and affective disorders such as major depression, bipolar disorder and anxiety disorders. The use of alcohol can make the symptoms and prognosis of mental illnesses worse.' The Men's Health Framework reports that men were more likely to respond to life events with coping strategies that had a negative impact on their health, such as increasing alcohol, tobacco and/or drug consumption.

What can I do about it?

  • Read and understand the Australian Alcohol Guidelines. The guidelines have been developed by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), and provide evidence-based advice on the health effects of drinking alcohol. They also help people make informed decisions about how much alcohol they drink, if any.
  • Download the Drinks Meter App, a user-friendly app for your phone or tablet. It provides confidential, personalised feedback about your alcohol use based on advice from doctors and the Australian guidelines to reduce health related risks from alcohol.
  • Make it a mocktail. Reduce your alcohol consumption by exploring alternatives. Drug Info's collection of literary mocktails offer a variety of delicious, book-themed and alcohol free drinks that can be enjoyed at parties or at home.

More tips on reducing consumption 

Looking to reduce your alcohol intake? Here are some great tips from the Get Healthy information and coaching service:

  • Drink water instead of alcohol and use it to quench your thirst.
  • Sip alcoholic drinks slowly.
  • Enjoy wine spritzers (wine and soda/mineral water).
  • Alternate alcoholic drinks with water.
  • Switch to light beer.
  • Wait until your glass is empty rather than topping it up when it's half full.

Where can I get help?

For free and confidential advice 24/7 call the Alcohol and Drug Information Service (ADIS) on 1800 250 015. Counsellors are available to provide information, referrals, crisis counselling and support. Or start a web chat with an ADIS counsellor online Monday to Friday, 8.30am – 5pm. ADIS can also provide up-to-date information about service availability in your area during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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