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Breaking Barriers: Accepting and offering help in the Men's Health Journey

Updated: Nov 17, 2023

My neck hurt. You would think I’d know better, but for several months I just put up with it. I went to bed every night believing that after a good night’s sleep I’d wake up and all would be fine. But it wasn’t fine, and it didn’t get better. For so many kiwi blokes this sort of story happens too often.


On reflection, I wonder why I just let it slide. It wasn’t life threatening, but it caused constant daily discomfort - it interfered with my sleep and made me more irritable. My inertia to fix it still makes no sense.





It was my son who took the bull by the horns and booked me an appointment with a trainer to learn stretches and exercises to move my shoulders and neck, releasing the tension. The good news is that it worked. In fact, after a month of stretching and targeted exercises, I woke up yesterday for the with no neck pain for the first time in a long time. Progress.


If you’re a guy reading this, I’m sure 9 out of 10 of you can think of something similar for you, whether it be to do with your physical, or your mental health. There are three things worth thinking about from my rather mundane story:


Acknowledgement

First thing, which most of us probably know, is that when something is wrong with or within our body they don’t generally fix themselves. A good starting point for me all those months ago would have been accepting and acknowledging that I needed some help. But I didn’t. Instead I soldiered on and pretended it was going to be fine.


Healthy bodies and brains need movement

Secondly, it took some stretching to fix me. Not a pill, ointment, x-ray or hospital visit. Too often we forget that stretching, exercising and moving in general are so beneficial for helping us get healthy and stay healthy – physically and emotionally.


Accept help

And finally, for me the biggest take out is that it took someone else to take action for me. I’m busy, life’s busy, we’re all busy, but too often we allow our busy lives to hold us back from looking after ourselves. It’s such an important circuit-breaker if someone else can intervene and help, and looking back, I’m so grateful that I have people in my life who care enough to push me into acting.


In my case it was my son who stepped up and did something. Which got me thinking: What if you and I make sure we were that circuit-breaker for our mates or for our family? I wonder how many guys you know are quietly putting up with something that could be helped. It may be mental wellness or a physical ailment. It might just cause discomfort or, without them knowing, it could be serious. We can start by just asking how they are.





November 19 is International Men’s Day, and the month of November is dedicated to men’s wellness with Movember. Use this month to ask your mates how they are. Talk about wellness, ailments, prostate, aches, pains, and the positives of getting a ‘well-man check’ at the doctor. Never underestimate the power of support.


We can talk about “normalising the conversation” but we need to take ACTION - be the one starting the conversation. So, take a moment today to break the silence and ask a mate how they’re doing – it might just be the nudge they need.


Author: John Berry, Men's Health Trust Trustee & Pathfinder CEO

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