If you see more facial hair than average for the next few weeks, don’t be alarmed.
Throughout the month of November, men across Australia participate in a fun charity event called Movember, in which they are encouraged to grow moustaches to raise awareness of men’s health issues such as prostate cancer, testicular cancer and men’s suicide.
While it is a fun event, it highlights that men’s health is often an under-serviced area of community health.
A major policy initiative is the Federal Government’s National Men’s Health Strategy 2020-30, which identified five priority health issues: mental health; chronic conditions; sexual and reproductive health and conditions where men are over-represented; injuries and risk taking; and healthy ageing.
The strategy recognises that men are often reluctant to seek help with health issues – and mental health issues in particular.
Community pharmacies can play a pivotal role, providing advice and confidential counselling for health issues that a man may need help with.
Among the 10 most common causes of death among men are heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, cancers and mental health issues.
Mental health is an area of growing concern for many men, and community pharmacies are playing an increasing role in addressing it.
Community pharmacists are in a position to identify the first signs of mental health deteriorations and start a confidential conversation as they are among the most trusted health professionals in a community.
Pharmacies represent the most accessible healthcare in Australia, so men feeling anxiety, depression, loneliness and other mental health issues can feel at ease speaking to pharmacists for advice and help.
With 6000 community pharmacies across Australia, many open late and on weekends, they can also be accessed when and where men need them.
Community pharmacy staff are often trained in mental health first-aid as part of their employment.
Depression is the most common presentation at pharmacies, affecting about one in eight men at some stage during their lives.
Depression is a leading cause of suicide, which claims nine lives on average every day in Australia.
According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, males are between three and four times more likely to take their own lives than females.
Men aged 40-49 and over the age of 85 have the highest rates. These are alarming figures and community pharmacy is determined to help lower them.
People can support the Movember charity by visiting au.movember.com.
Free support is available for people experiencing thoughts of suicide or self-harm at Lifeline by calling 13 11 14 or visiting lifeline.org.au; Suicide Call Back Service by calling 1300 659 467 or visiting suicidecallbackservice.org.au; Beyond Blue by calling 1300 224 636 or visiting beyondblue.org.au; and MensLine Australia by calling 1300 789 978 or visiting mensline.org.au.