Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Achilles Heel - gone but still worth reading

Achilles Heel was a radical men's magazine published in the UK in the 1980s and 1990s. You can still read many of its articles here and they're well worth a look if you're interested in men's issues.

Monday, December 6, 2004

Social worker helps father win custody battle

Social workers generally get a bad press from fathers' organisations but in an Irish Times (premium content) article (Dads doing it themselves) by Kitty Holland on 6th December, a father credits a social worker with the fact that he was able to keep his children.

David Donlea, a 37 year old Corkman, had been urged by his family and even by the GardaĆ­ (police, called to the house during arguments) to leave his wife. But he was unwilling to leave his children, a boy and twin girls, and in the end it was she who left.

She brought the twins with her and refused him access. But his daughters asked to see him and a social worker visited him to ask him to do so. At the visit to his children, overseen by the social worker, he broke down in tears and so did his daughters. The social worker helped him to apply for custody of the children and he won.

The number of lone-parent families in the Republic increased from 129,116 in 1996 to 153,863 in 2002, Holland reports. Of these, 20,834 were headed by a man in 1996 and 23,499 in 2002.

Friday, December 3, 2004

Getting Inside Men's Health - Report

The report, Getting Inside Men's Health was launched on 1st December. It is the culmination of a three year research study on men's health, funded by the Health Promotion Unit, Department of Health and Children, and carried out in the South Eastern Health Board.

Key findings:
- Men tend not to be health conscious or proactive about their health For many Irish men, it appears that health has simply never been on their agenda. Sadly, it may be on foot of a `wake-up call' such as a health crisis, that they become conscious or proactive about their health. This is compounded by young men's sense of invincibility.

- Men's knowledge of fundamental health issues remains poor. Less than half of men surveyed knew what the function of the prostate gland was, while over a third were not aware of some of common prostate cancer symptoms.

- Three out of four men aged 18-29 were not aware that young men were at highest risk of developing testicular cancer.

- There is an overall lack of a preventative health ethos among Irish men Just one in five drinkers reported monitoring their own alcohol consumption.

- Three out of four men aged 50 and over reported never having had a Digital Rectal Examination (prostate cancer check).

- Just one in seven men aged 18-29 reported practicing Testicular Self Examinations monthly.

- Men go to their GPs reluctantly. Over half of men surveyed expressed varying degrees of reluctance to attend their GP, with women playing a key role in prompting `reluctant attenders' to go.

- Men are very often afraid to seek help. Many men expressed fear or anxiety about going to the doctor, with fear appearing under many guises. - silence, denial, procrastination, fatalism, the notion of a self-healing ability. It also appears that the fear and uncertainty of `what might be wrong' may pose a bigger threat to men's health, than the reality of ill-health itself.

- For many men, there appears to be a sliding scale of acceptability in terms of how they cope with different illnesses. The continued stigma that is perceived to be associated with depression for example, appears to prompt some men to `self-medicate' with alcohol, and/or to resort to violent behaviour, rather than to seek help.

- A `drinking culture' is endemic in Irish society. The `drinking man' continues to be upheld with considerable honour even by his more abstemious male peers. Half of those consuming over 50 units per week (i.e. over twice the recommended maximum limit), considered themselves to be `moderate' drinkers, while nine out of ten `weekly' binge drinkers similarly considered themselves to be `light' or `moderate' drinkers.

- Alcohol advertising poses a real challenge to men's health, in that it connects alcohol use with connotations of sexual prowess, and the achievement of optimum performance in sport.

- There was strong evidence that risk-taking behaviour is seen as an integral part of defining ones masculinity, and of `being a man'. The issue of male violence for example was found to be an obligatory way of defining and sustaining allegiance to male peer groups.

- Three out of four men surveyed reported adopting strategies of `avoidance' or `silence' in the way that they managed themselves through an emotional or mental health issue.

- Men associated an increased health consciousness with becoming a father. For example, two-thirds of all fathers reported taking fewer risks with their health on becoming a father.

The quantitative research study was carried out across the five counties in the South East. 570 men were selected randomly. The report was commissioned to inform the development of a national policy for men's health in Ireland.

Wednesday, December 1, 2004

Sporty women drink men under the table

People who play sports are likely to drink more than other people - and the trend is "particularly evident" among women taking part in team sports, according to a report by Eithne Donnellan in The Irish Times (premium content) on 1st December 2004.

But research by the Economic and Social Research Institute found that young men who play soccer, hurling, rugby and football also drink more than the general population.

The ESRI report, Sports Participation and Health Among Adults in Ireland, said: "This is a troubling finding since high levels of alcohol consumption are known to be related to higher levels of mental illness and depression, but also to other social and relational problems, as well as higher risks of particular cancers and stroke."More than 3,000 adults across the State were interviewed in the research commissioned by the Irish Sports Council.