Men’s Health Week 2020 – 15th-21st June

A blog by Forest Manager Andrew Baker, Southern England. 

Everyone has been affected by this pandemic to a greater or lesser degree. People have lost loved ones, lost jobs, and been isolated from others for longer than most people have experienced in living memory. Learning to live in times like this has been challenging for everybody; we have all been forced to adapt in our own way. The fear and uncertainty surrounding health, income and relationships has put tremendous pressure on us all, and the statistics have shown that one group in particular – men – are twice as likely to die from Covid-19 than women. Not only this, but they are more than twice as likely to suffer serious but non-fatal effects from the disease. There is much speculation around why this is the case, but essentially it boils down to two main factors: the immune system and behaviour. 

Even though many people might consider men to generally be the physically stronger sex, when it comes to the immune system this is not the case. A second X chromosome, fewer underlying health conditions and different levels of certain enzymes (such as ACE2 in the case of Corona) makes women more robust than men in this sense. When it comes to behaviour, studies have shown that men are more likely to ignore social distancing rules than women, and are less likely to take symptoms as seriously. I’m sure many of you can attest to trying to shrug illnesses off as no big deal and that very nature has allowed the disease to hit us harder. Interestingly, men and women are equally likely to contract the disease but the end-result can be very different. 

The theme for this week’s Men’s Health Week is ‘Take Action on Covid-19’. The focus is on identifying the actions we are all taking or not taking to counter this pandemic, and working on what more we can do to protect each other. For individuals, this includes not only self-isolation and associated precautions, but also taking care of our mental health in this ‘new normal’. For companies, action must be taken to better understand the virus, to continue to implement social distancing, and to do everything in their power to make workplaces safe.  

Tilhill has gone one-step further. Since recently training a team of mental health first aiders, employees across the Company have local colleagues whose main responsibility is simple: to listen and help signpost those in need to suitable options for support. Working closely with MetLife UK, a ‘Wellbeing Hub’ is available to all staff members; providing physical, mental and financial support to those who need it. 24/7 telephone support, counselling sessions and access to financial aid can make a tremendous difference in time such as this and I encourage all readers to utilise support if you’re feeling low. Not only that, but please, if you work for Tilhill, then get in touch with your mental health first aiders, local or otherwiseif you’re struggling in any wayIf you are reading this in general then find out where you can get support and be comfortable in accessing it if you feel you need to. We are all here to help each other, even if we can only see one another over the likes of Zoom for now…  

Andrew Baker – Mental Health First Aider 

Forest Manager, Tilhill