Australian men enjoy relatively good health outcomes, although they face different barriers to optimal health when compared to Australian women. Men are known to have greater vulnerability to various health disorders across their lifespan; they are more likely than women to experience serious health problems; men have a higher mortality rate, and they die in greater numbers than women from almost all non-sex-specific health problems. The data on Australian men’s health also show higher rates of substance abuse, higher rates of suicide, and higher rates of mental health problems.
These barriers are caused, in the main, because Australian men are less likely to seek treatment from a general practitioner or other health professional, and are less likely to have in place the supports and social connections needed when they experience physical and mental health problems. Compared to women, Australian men not only see their GP less often, but when they do access a health professional it is for shorter consultations, and typically when a condition or illness is advanced.
To be effective, policies on men’s health must recognise the different expectations, experiences, and situations facing Australian men. Health policies and programs must address the reasons why men are reluctant to engage with GPs, and the consequences of that reluctance, and invest in innovative models of care that overcome these barriers.