As we near the end of this month – June, was New Zealand Men’s Health Month and it was a time for Pacific men to get a warrant of fitness on their physical and mental well-being.
For Pacific Psychologist, Dr Sam Manuela, who is a senior lecturer of Psychology at the University of Auckland, the focus of June and beyond, should be around encouraging Pacific men to communicate openly about their health – physically, mentally and spiritually.
“In our Pacific cultures, there are these masculine ideals of what it is to be a man. In a sense, men should be constantly strong and that showing any vulnerabilities is a sign of weakness.
There can also be a sense of not wanting to be a burden on others and placing these expectations on themselves on what it means to be a man, what it means to be a father, what it means to be the strong person in the family.”
New Zealand Men’s Health Month is aimed at raising awareness of preventable health problems and encouraging the early detection and treatment of disease among men and boys. The month is also about getting men and boys talking about their health concerns and encouraging them to ask their mates how they are doing.
Dr Manuela says that for Pacific men’s health to improve, there needs to be a strong message that showing emotions is normal. Open communication with family and mates would make it easier for men to seek medical help earlier if they were experiencing any health issues or give them an opportunity to check in on their mental well-being.
“For quite a few years, we have seen the importance of Pacific men being able to open up and talk about the issues they are facing. To have the time and space dedicated to addressing these issues and changing the norm allows us to take action.”
Date: Wednesday 30 June 2021