The (mental) health of Australia’s males


In June 2011, The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare published a report titled “The health of Australia’s males”. We’ve highlighted/summarised various parts of this report in our write-up below. The full report can be downloaded directly from AIHW.

Mental health is an important component of the health and wellbeing of males and comprises a wide spectrum of disorders with varying degrees of severity. Good mental health is characterised by a person’s ability to recognise their strengths and values, cope with daily stressors, and make a productive and positive contribution to the community. Poor mental health may adversely affect any or all of these areas and has consequences for an individual, their family and society. Initiatives such as Movember (and of course Riding4aCause) are raising awareness of mental health amongst men and are working to break down barriers to males recognising and seeking help for mental health conditions, in particular depression.

The mental health of Australian men (page 42 of PDF). In 2007:

  • More than 3.8 Million males aged 16-85 had experienced a mental disorder in their lifetime and 1.4 million (18%) had experienced symptoms in the 12 months before the survey (a current mental disorder). The most common group of current mental disorders among males was anxiety disorders (11%), followed by substance use disorders (7%) and affective disorders (5%).
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder was the most common condition overall (5%) and the leading anxiety disorder among Australian males. Harmful use of alcohol (4%) and depressive episodes (3%) were the leading substance use and affective disorders, respectively.
  • Younger males were more likely to report current symptoms of any mental disorder compared with older males. Anxiety and affective disorders were the most common among men aged 35-44 years.

The work of Men’s Sheds (Page 54 of PDF)

Men’s Sheds have long been recognised as meeting places where men can find social support and camaraderie. This community-based initiative is aimed at providing an informal environment where males can talk to each other about issues of concern, including health and wellbeing while working together on traditional ‘shed’ projects. Each shed is unique and caters to the needs of its individual members—projects can include restoring furniture, fixing machinery and small construction tasks for local schools and community groups. Men’s Sheds address issues of social inclusion by:

  • providing a space to establish friendships and social networks
  • fostering a sense of community and purpose within its members
  • creating a forum where skills can be learned and shared