Shifting the conversation to promote men’s health 

When it comes to men’s health, making positive lifestyle changes can be particularly challenging. We know men are less likely to seek medical help than women and research[1] suggests men living in regional Queensland may be even more apathetic towards matters impacting their health. We also know these men predominantly work in blue collar roles and are hardworking Aussies with traditional views.

That’s why a different approach is needed.

My health for life, supported by the Queensland Government through Health and Wellbeing Queensland, has been successfully taking their initiative to men in settings that are familiar to them. Workplaces, men’s sheds and targeted advertising campaigns are used to bring health conversations into environments and around people where they are comfortable. 

In October, My health for life supported National Safe Work Month. Throughout the month, 19 activities across 8 different workplaces were conducted with men representing 57% of the subsequent referrals into the initiative. 

My health for life is all about making healthier choices and creating healthier habits, in simple steps anyone can live with. The free initiative provides professionally qualified health coaches to help modify unhealthy behaviours and create healthier ones ­— ultimately helping to prevent chronic conditions like type 2 diabetes, heart disease or stroke. Health coaching is provided in a variety of ways, from groups to phone or online coaching — locally at home, or at work, with culturally adapted versions.

With employees spending a third of their lives at work, workplace wellness initiatives can improve the health of workers by 24%[2]. My health for life has a focus on blue collar industries and rural and remote locations where workforces are predominantly male.

More than 200 Queensland workplaces have participated in My health for life with over 1,400 workers having completed the initiative. The impact for participants has been significant, with:

  • 74% having reduced their alcohol consumption
  • 35% have improved their physical activity, and
  • 35% have reduced their consumption of sugary beverages[3].

Targeted advertising that is approachable, relatable and entertaining has also been a key strategy to engage men in rural and remote locations. My health for life developed the current ‘Spare Tyre’ campaign which runs until mid-December knowing V8 super car interest high amongst this audience. The messaging cheekily plays on motor racing terminology to communicate health risks and the benefits of ‘shredding the tread’ a health coach or co-driver can bring to the race of your life! The campaign is using channels and formats to leverage the influence of people this audience respect and trust. Radio spots with Greg ‘Rusty’ Rust Australia’s most versatile motor racing commentator and enthusiast feature across regional Queensland as well as posters in men’s bathrooms in local clubs and pubs. This traditional media activity is supported by digital advertising.

Men’s Sheds across Brisbane are also experiencing the benefits of a free health coach. Men’s Sheds are again a great opportunity to bring conversations about men’s health into settings they are comfortable with. The Men’s Shed Ashgrove-The Gap recently partnered with My health for life to pilot the free health coaching initiative. 

Pictured: My health for life participants at Men’s Shed Stamford.

The Queensland Men’s Shed Association Regional Coordinator Frank Pearce hailed the pilot a success.

‘We have a responsibility to get as much health promotion and health activities happening in Men’s Sheds across Queensland,’ Frank said.

‘I think this is a great initiative, given its flexibility, to be able to push out to the different sheds across Queensland. We have 240 sheds and we’re always looking for initiatives that will help people get healthier and introduce behaviour changes to improve health outcomes.’

My health for life graduate and Shed Wellness Officer David Sell said adapting the initiative to the demographic was key to its success.

‘There was a keenness and flexibility by My health for life to make this work by adapting and changing the structure of the sessions to suit the environment. I am definitely keen to run this again for our men,’ David said.

‘Personally, My health for life reinforced what I knew but also prompted me to pick up the weights and add some weight bearing exercises to my routine – live stronger, live longer.’

As a graduate, Jan Elliott said the initiative ‘reinforced what I’ve been doing – eating properly, losing weight, not drinking’.

My health for life is currently being rolled out to other Men’s Sheds across Brisbane.

If your organisation would like to work with My health for life to support your community make healthier choices and create healthier habits visit www.myhealthforlife.com.au, email info@myhealthforlife.com.au or call 13 74 75. Or to find out if My health for life is right for you, visit www.myhealthforlife.com.au.

Sources:

  1. Neilsen, Consumer and Media View, Rolling 12-month panel survey.
  2. Anne Rongen, et al. (2013). Workplace Health Promotion: A Meta Analysis of Effectiveness. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 44(4): p. 406-415.
  3.  My health for life Program, January 2016 – September 2023, Workplace Outcome Summary.