MyCouncilWorks

Wellbeing Wednesday 10 November 2021

Jane Fowler - Head of Customer Support Service

Hello and Happy Wednesday everyone! Phew it’s dark! It really does make quite a difference when the clocks change. Are you all managing to get outside while it is still daylight? Do try – it makes a big and positive difference. Even if it is raining….

This week’s WBW is all about Men’s Health and Kindness. It is interesting at this time of year the number of moustaches that appear on people’s faces – or is it just that I notice them more because I know it is Movember? Many of us are unable to grow a notable moustache (my son called me moustache mummy when he was little….it’s the dark hair..not really ‘notable’ though) I’ve decided to have a digital one. Raising awareness about men’s health is for everyone – so why not?!

There are some very useful and relevant pieces of information on all sorts of men’s health and wellbeing topics, so please do have a look. And if any of you are going for real or virtual moustaches this Movember – share your pics! We’d love to see them and also to hear if any of you are doing the MOVE challenge.

Our other feature this week is Kindness Day, which this year is on 13th November. This reminds us that Doing Good Does You Good! In a world where everyone seems in a hurry, or appears irritated or rude, particularly online, a little kindness can go a very long way. So – go ahead! One little act of kindness could just make someone’s day change from a bit miserable to feeling appreciated and ‘seen’. And you’ll feel better too. It would be lovely to share acts of kindness people have done for one another – let us know.

Look after yourselves and each other and see you all next week.

MOVEMBER

Movember is the annual celebration of men’s health, particularly in relation to testicular, prostate cancer and mental health. This year also encourages men to take the MOVE challenge, a 30-day physical fitness challenge.

Keep an eye out on the Movember website for full details

Let’s take a look at the main issues:

 

 

 

Testicular Cancer

It’s important you check regularly for any changes to your testicles. The ideal time to check is just after a warm bath or shower: hold your scrotum in the palm of your hand and check each testicle by rolling it between the thumb and fingers.

It’s perfectly normal for testicles to be a different size and length; however, if you notice any changes such as swelling, lumps, hardening or pain, it is important that you seek the advice of your GP as soon as possible.  These symptoms are commonly a sign of infection, inflammation, fluid build-up (hydrocele) or damage, however it is important to get checked as these symptoms may also indicate testicular cancer.

In the UK around 2,300 men are diagnosed with testicular cancer each year. That’s about 1 out of every 100 cancers (1%) diagnosed in men. Younger men are more likely to get testicular cancer with men in their early 30s are higher risk which the risk reducing as men get older. Many testicular cancers can be cured if treated early so it is important to check regularly and don’t delay seeking GP advice.

Testicular cancer – NHS (www.nhs.uk)

Testicular Cancer UK | testicular cancer

Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in UK males (26%), primarily affecting men aged 45 and over.  For men between the ages of 15 and 44, testicular cancer is the most common cancer diagnosis.  The prostate is a walnut-sized gland and its function is to produce fluid, which mixes with sperm during ejaculation to create semen. Prostate function is governed by the male hormone testosterone.

The prostate sits just beneath the bladder and the urethra (the tube from the bladder to the penis) and runs through the centre of the prostate gland. Hence, the most common symptoms experienced relating to prostate health are related to urination, e.g. • Not being able to urinate or difficulty doing so, such as straining or delay, poor urinary flow, increased frequency or urgency to urinate, particularly during the night, leaking following urination, a feeling like the bladder has not been emptied fully and/or pain on urination.

These symptoms can be worrying, but in most cases are not due to cancer. They are most commonly due to an enlarged prostate (commonly caused by benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) – a non-cancerous growth of cells) and can be easily managed with lifestyle changes, medications if required or occasionally surgery, if this is deemed necessary.  Other causes can also include prostatitis (infection of the prostate gland) or prostate cancer, so it is important to seek advice from your GP as soon as possible if you develop any symptoms.  About 48,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer a year and it is becoming more common. Prostate cancer is most common in older men. On average each year 35 out of 100 (35%) of new cases are in men aged 75 and over. A man’s risk of developing prostate cancer depends on many factors, and it is more likely if you have a close male relative who has had prostate cancer.

Prostate Cancer UK | Prostate Cancer UK

Movember – Prostate Cancer

Mental Health

Research shows that men are less inclined to speak openly about their emotional wellbeing and it is thought that this may be due to societal and gender stereotypes and expectations. 

It’s becoming more commonly heard in recent times, but it really is ‘OK not to be OK’. Men should feel safe to speak out and seek support and be confident that they won’t be judged or perceived differently for doing so.  Approximately one in eight men in the UK are thought to have a common mental health condition such as depression, anxiety or obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) (Mental Health Foundation) with over one third of men reporting having experienced mental health problems at some point in their lives.

The COVID-19 pandemic and recent lockdowns have been particularly challenging and may have brought to the surface emotional and psychological symptoms for some.  Men are three times more likely to become alcohol addicted than women and reduced mental health can be a trigger for unhealthy behaviours; men are more likely to use potentially harmful coping mechanisms, which could potentially lead to addiction.

Men are at a higher risk of suicide than women with approximately 75% of those who die by suicide in the UK being male. Men aged between 40 and 49 appear to be at greatest risk, although the incidence of younger people attempting suicide and reporting feeling suicidal has increased recently across both genders. Suicide is the biggest killer of men under the age of 45 in the UK.  Mental health is just as important as physical health.

Talking is not always easy and data suggests that fewer men than women access mental health support.  However, with the increased risk of suicide and other harmful behaviours such as addiction, it’s important to speak out and seek support if needed.

If you recognise that you are experiencing symptoms related to your mental health, speak to your GP as they may be able to help. It can also be beneficial to explain how you’re feeling to family and close friends so that they can offer support.

Additionally, lifestyle factors such as maintaining a healthy diet, engaging in physical activity, spending time outdoors, practicing good sleep hygiene, ensuring a good work/life balance and practicing techniques such as mindfulness and relaxation can be of great benefit.

As well as looking out for ourselves, it’s also important that we look out for each other. If you suspect a friend or colleague may be struggling, offer a listening ear,

encourage them to talk and let them know that help is available and that they are not alone.  Starting a conversation with somebody about their mental health can be really helpful and it may be the first time somebody has asked. It may offer a huge sense of relief to acknowledge that this is how they are feeling and starting a conversation about mental health shows that you care.

If you feel that an individual is in immediate danger, e.g. if they tell you they have a plan or intention to act on thoughts of suicide, don’t leave them alone. Try to

remove any means of suicide from the immediate environment and seek further support – perhaps contact their GP on their behalf, call 999 if there is very urgent concern, or accompany them to A&E and stay with them until they are seen. Hearing that a friend, family member or colleague is feeling suicidal can be difficult so make sure you also seek support for yourself if needed.

CALM has a helpful webpage about what to do if you’re worried someone might be suicidal, including warning signs, what to say and what to do next.

Organisations that can help

If you need support, or want to learn more about men’s mental health, contact these organisations.

The Council’s Employee Assistance Programme provided by Health Assured are available 24 hours a day/7 days a week and can be contacted on 0800 030 5182.

Key Benefits of Physical Fitness

  • Keeping active can help you lose weight or keep a healthy weight, which reduces the risk of 13 different types of cancer
  • Can help improve mood and reduce stress
  • Can reduces the risk of heart disease
  • Can reduces the risk of osteoarthritis
  • Can reduces the risk of dementia and depression
  • Can reduce the risk of falls in older adults

How to be more active

  • Use a fitness trackers or step counter. Upping your step count is a great place to start. Step counters or apps on your phone are a quick way to see if you’re reaching your goals and stay motivated. Some devices can even remind you to get up and move more if you’ve been still for a while.
  • Download Health Assured’s MYhealthyadvantage app 
  • Buddy up with friends or family which can help keep each other motivated and on track.

Please see useful links below for exercise:

Fitness Studio exercise videos – NHS (www.nhs.uk)

Find Fitness activities and classes services – NHS (www.nhs.uk)

How to improve your strength and flexibility – NHS (www.nhs.uk)

Get running with Couch to 5K – NHS (www.nhs.uk)

 

World Kindness Day - 13 November

World Kindness Day was first launched in 1998 by The World Kindness Movement since then 28 nations (including Scotland!) have come together with a mission to create a kinder world by inspiring individuals and nations towards greater kindness.

Kindness and our mental health are deeply connected. It helps reduce stress and deepens friendships. The qualities that come with it; consideration, patience, compassion and fairness are key to our individual and collective mental health.

The Mental Health Foundation reports that inequality is rising in our society and has harmful effects on our health. They argue that kindness could have a transformative impact on our schools, places of work, communities and families. By embracing and encouraging kindness in workplaces, homes and communities we can build stronger relationships and communities.

Kindness is defined by doing something that is motivated by genuine desire to make a positive difference, so here are a few positive tips on how to being a little more kindness into your life:

 

  • Acknowledge someone else’s kindness or patience. Your small expression of gratitude can make all the difference to someone’s day.

 

  • No one likes to be judged. And the more you judge people the more you tend to judge yourself.

 

  • Approach a problem by encouraging someone rather than criticising. It makes work and everyone involved (including you!) easier to deal with and more fun.

 

  • Try to understand the other side. You’re not learning anything if you never shift from your own point of view. This also makes it easier to reach an understanding where both parties feel more satisfied with the solution.

 

  • Make positive observations about people. Replace the habit of spotting annoying habits (we all do it!) with positive traits. This can be really useful when it’s someone you often find difficult to deal with.

 

  • Remember the small and kind gestures that make a difference to you and return the favour. Let someone in into your lane while driving or hold the door for someone.

 

  • Be assertive, set boundaries and say no when needed. Unnecessary conflicts waste everyone’s time and energy. Avoid being drawn into them and make the day better for both everyone.

 

  • Be grateful for what you have. It’s very easy to take the things you have for granted. Make time to reflect on what you can be grateful for.

Please also let us know your thoughts and ideas about the items featured in our Wellbeing Wednesdays each week and send us your suggestions for future topics – we love to hear from you.

The Wellbeing Team:  wellbeing@argyll-bute.gov.uk