Health MOTs can be the perfect opportunity to open up conversations about health concerns with male employees this Men’s Health Week, an occupational health provider has advised.
Health Management, which provides occupational health services to 400 businesses, charities and government bodies, said that the increase in mental health concerns, missed screening appointments and the emergence of long Covid have all taken their toll on employees over the past couple of years.
The pandemic has also exacerbated many long-established problems when it comes to men’s health, including lower engagement with health services.
It said that organisations could consider offering men’s health MOTs that encourage men to get a full picture of their overall health, which could open up more conversations about health at work.
Male ‘champions’ in the workplace could encourage men to come forward for a health check, while senior leaders should talk about how they accessed support when they needed it to help break down taboos.
Men’s health checks
Employees could be directed towards information and support on male-specific health conditions such as testicular cancer and prostate cancer. Existing equality, diversity and inclusion policies could be updated, or a dedicated men’s health policy created to highlight the importance of men’s health.
Dr Alex Smallwood, a GP and director of clinical transformation at Health Management, said that men are more prone to heart and respiratory issues, which may have been worsened by reduced exercise or increased alcohol consumption during the pandemic.
“Traditionally, men have sought help later than women and may ignore warning symptoms longer than they would have done pre-Covid. Diseases affecting men including testicular cancer are curable if treated early, so it’s always worth checking,” he said.
For many, the increase in home working has led to a more sedentary lifestyle, and this may contribute to late detection of problems among male employees, as minor changes in the home don’t necessarily inconvenience in the same way. In the case of urinary symptoms – going more often could indicate a prostate problem, but at home, this change may not be sufficiently bothersome to seek help for.
“We also know that those who are less active, or who are larger, are at increased risk of many illnesses, including bowel cancer, which may only present with subtle changes that could be ignored,” Dr Smallwood added.