Saturday 19 November 2022 marks International Men’s Day (IMD). Observed throughout 80 countries worldwide, IMD recognises the positive contributions of males in our society, raises awareness on gendered issues such as men’s physical and mental health, and promotes healthy expressions of masculinity. IMD also provides opportunity to acknowledge those who don’t fall into traditional manifestations of masculinity, such as gay and bisexual men, transgender, or masculine non-binary people.
How it beganInternational Men’s Day was founded in 1999 by Dr Jerome Teelucksingh, a history lecturer at University of the West Indies in Trinidad Tobago. For over two decades, the day has been observed in various ways around the world, with seminars, festivals, fundraisers, activities in schools, government observances, award ceremonies, church observations and peaceful awareness marches marking the occasion. While the day holds varying significance from person to person, pioneers of International Men’s Day note that the day is not intended in any way to detract from or compete with the long-established International Women’s Day but is for the purpose of highlighting men’s experiences and raising awareness around issues unique to boys and men in our society.
Raising awareness around men’s physical and mental health
Current statistics surrounding aspects of men’s physical and mental health are grim. Men have a suicide rate three times higher than women: 75 per cent of Australians who take their own life are male. Those in the LGBTQIA+ community are even more at risk: they are 10 times more likely to attempt suicide than the general population. Men are nearly twice as likely to suffer from lung cancer or heart disease than women and die on average four to five years before women. Prostate cancer has now overtaken breast cancer as Australia’s most common cancer. There are many factors at play surrounding these issues – factors that need to be acknowledged and discussed. International Men’s Day provides important opportunity to open conversations around these topics, raise awareness and support those who are affected.
Australia’s 2022 theme
Each year, International Men’s Day shines the spotlight on a different theme. This year’s theme in Australia is ‘Celebrating Mateship’, aimed at inspiring men to be proactive about connecting with their mates. Loneliness is well recognised as a silent killer, and in acknowledgement of higher rates of suicide amongst men, this theme tackles the importance of building and maintaining a strong support network. Quite simply, having mates plays a key role in helping men to live longer, better, and healthier lives. A number of excellent initiatives support male friendships in Australia, such as the men’s sheds movement, which offers safe spaces for men to gather, work on projects and build social connections.
Ways to support IMD
Want to show your support for International Men’s Day? There are a number of ways you can engage on social media, such as using hashtags like: #internationalmensday, #celebratemen, #menshealth, #stopmalesuicide, and #thankamantoday. Other ways to get involved include joining local events in your area or at an individual level, reaching out to men in your life to check in, show appreciation or offer support to those who are struggling.