Billy Slater
Billy Slater in action.

He might be among the healthiest blokes in the country, but even Melbourne Storm’s Billy Slater has to hassle his Dad about going to the doctor. “If he gets crook or probably should go to the doctor, hes always putting it off,” laughed Billy. “I think it’s just a male trait, saying ‘shell be right. So I tell him to go and see the quack every now and again.”

Although ‘she’ll be right’ is a common Aussie phrase, the problem of men’s health in Australia is far more serious than it might appear. According to Australian Bureau of Statistics Leading Causes Of Death By Gender research in 2009, men suffer from significant rates of death from cancer, heart disease and suicide, along with high rates of addiction, traffic accidents and mental health issues.

Creating awareness of the issue is a critical first step. So, this year from June 9-15, all around the country blokes will be holding events for Men’s Health Week.

Get checked out

One important initiative is encouraging guys to get a health check with their doctor. BMX Champion Sam Willoughby emphasised just how important getting to the GP really is. “I make it a pretty big priority. My body is my career, I rely on it to perform,” he explained. “Part of what goes with that is making sure its in line.”



Sam Willoughby
Sam Willoughby and his wheels.

In Sam’s experience, what can start off as a minor complaint can rapidly escalate into a real problem. “I think most of the time you just dont want to know the bad answer, so you try to avoid the doctor and avoid the bad news and hope it fixes itself,” he admitted. “But generally, it might be minor right now, but itll continue to build.”

Look after yourself

Billy agrees that it’s essential to nip any health problems in the bud, before they become a real issue. “If you dont let your medical team know as soon as injuries start, they can turn into something a lot bigger if you dont address them,” he explained.

A commitment to exercising regularly, eating right and looking after yourself is what Billy believes leads to a long and happy life. “In terms of living longer, Im just like everyone else,” he said. “I try to eat as well as I can, and do all the right things with my exercise.” 

Eating well and staying active are key to Sam’s continued wellbeing, too. “Eat a healthy diet; it doesnt have to be crazy, but try and live by the basic food pyramid,” he said. “The best advice my Dad gave me was always just to be out there doing something. Give everything a go.” 

Look out for your mates

And for those around us, like Billy’s Dad, who might need an extra push, it’s important we help them help themselves. “Reminding each other is the biggest thing,” said Billy. “ Family members pushing their loved ones to go and see the doctor when necessary is important.”

Men’s Health Week runs between June 9-15, 2014. For more information on events near you, visit menshealthweek.org.au