This week, we’ve been inspired by the men in our community who are taking steps to create supportive environments, facilitate honest discussions, and advocate ways for men to improve their physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.
What is Men’s Health Week?
Men’s Health Week is an international week-long celebration, designed to highlight the health challenges faced by men and how they can be improved.
Did you know suicide is the leading cause of death for males aged 15-44, and that men are twice as likely to suffer from heart attacks and heart disease? With this in mind, it’s crucial to open up important conversations and educate the wider public on ways to support and improve men’s health - both physical and mental.
The theme of Men's Health Week 2022 is Building Healthy Environments for Men and Boys - highlighting ways we can create supportive, healthy environments in our home, workplace and social settings.
Talking Men’s Health with Jared De Thierry
When we were thinking about how we could shine a spotlight on Men’s Health Week, we instantly knew we wanted to connect with Jared de Thierry. Based in Northern NSW, Jared is a personal trainer (founder of JDT training), husband, and father of two young boys. He is also a passionate advocate for men’s health, and is well-known for facilitating communities that offer support and connection for men.
We sat down with Jared to chat about some of the current barriers faced by men, and how we can better support the men and boys in our lives. Keep reading as Jared shares some simple ways to make improvements to your health and mindset, the importance of staying connected, and some advice for his younger self.
What do you think is the biggest barrier in the men’s health space right now?
I think the biggest barriers we face in the men’s health space are societal and cultural challenges. How we were raised and the types of conversations we were having with our dads in the past are vastly different from the conversations I am having with my sons today.
We are making big strides in this space, and I’m excited about the future generation and the way that they approach their mental health. I think they are going to be a lot more evolved than we were. It’s exciting - there are changes being made, but I still think the older generation have been held back by previous behaviours and how we were raised.
What is one small thing men can do every day to improve their life? And what non-negotiables do you follow each day to maintain a healthy mindset?
For me, it has to be exercise. We are made to move, we understand the benefits of exercise and how it can improve our health. But exercising also has a positive flow on effect to the other areas of our lives. We generally want to eat healthier when exercising consistently, our mood is better, stress levels are down, relationships are better with the people we love. It really does have a positive impact on all parts of our life when we’re training or exercising consistently.
Training is also a non-negotiable for me. It’s been a big part of my life since I can remember. Another one of my non-negotiables is my morning routine. Part of my job is being up really early because people want to train before they go to work, so I’m up at 4am as part of my morning routine. I have a cold shower and then straight into the car. When I get to work, I always write something positive on one of the whiteboards. Whether it’s a quote I’ve read, one of my values, or something positive to put me in a good headspace for the rest of the day.
Where is the support for men currently lacking and how can women better support the men around them?
I think there is a lot of support out there for men, particularly at the acute end. You do have to look for it - it might not be so visible to a lot of people. For example: sporting clubs, golf clubs, different community groups and training groups. They are definitely out there, you just have to not only look for them but also change the way we think about them and how they can contribute to our mental health. That’s one of the things we might see is lacking. The relationship we have with different groups.
I think women can encourage men to stay connected and engaged with their friends, with different community groups, with different sporting clubs. There’s a lot of benefits to being engaged with different groups in our community. That social interaction that we have is huge to maintaining our mental health. I think women do a great job in supporting men and I think it will continue to get better if we’re conscious of that.
What are the benefits of training with a community of like-minded men?
The benefits are huge. I’m super passionate about this space and to have a group of men support you, encourage you, to connect with, to form relationships with – it’s super special. To be able to ride that journey and improve your health and fitness levels together – there’s a camaraderie in that which is hard to find amongst a lot of men’s groups.
I’m super grateful to be involved in this type of work, and the flow on effect it can have on your family is the really special part. For kids to see dad head off to training and contribute to his health in that way, I think that’s a really powerful message for kids - and the relationship they have towards training and exercise I think is a really great message for our families. I hope we continue to grow in that space regarding community groups training together. I think we will be better off individually, but collectively as communities as well.
What is one thing you wish you could tell your younger self?
A lot of things, but if I had to choose one, I think it would be to have more open and honest conversations with my dad. I have two young boys and dad wasn’t always the first person that I ran to if something went wrong in my life, or if I needed some support. I wish I had done that.
I have two young boys now and I want to be the first person that they go to if they need some support or if something has happened in their life. I’m really grateful that my dad and I have a great relationship now and I can have those types of conversations with my boys.
Ways to Support Men’s Health Week
In Australia, Men’s Health Week is coordinated by Western Sydney University and you can find more tools and resources about men’s health on their website here.
Finally, don’t forget to regularly check in with your male friends, family and colleagues. It can be as simple as asking the question “Are you okay?” to open up an important (and potentially life-changing) discussion.