Graphic: RFDS urges men in remote WA to take charge of their health
Doctors from the Royal Flying Doctor Service in WA (RFDS WA) are urging men who live and work in regional WA to get support to stay physically and mentally healthy during International Men’s Health Week.
RFDS crews run regular health clinics for men by flying into some of WA’s most remote locations, including several Aboriginal communities in the Kimberley.
“Be good to yourself! There is no shame in popping in to see your GP for a review to help keep you happy and healthy,” advises RFDS Broome Medical Officer Dr Rory Nannery.
Dr Nannery helps facilitate Men’s GP Clinics in Kimberley communities. He is passionate about addressing all areas of men’s health with patients of all ages.
“We address areas of diet and exercise, emotional well-being, stress management, sexual and relationship health as well as screening for cancer, cardiovascular and other chronic diseases.”
“Discussing these issues helps identify problems before they seriously impact a person’s well-being and, by extension, the well-being of their family and community.”
Each RFDS clinic provides opportunity for residents in remote communities to access and engage in Men’s health, whether it be a school health check or a public clinic for people to a drop in for health advice.
Separate male and female clinics are offered in rural Aboriginal communities by RFDS WA to encourage community engagement in important health topics that are rarely discussed.
“As blokes, we are historically poor at engaging in health care - especially preventative health measures.”
“Specific health clinics for men provide an opportunity for the community to gather together with our nurses and doctors and engage in a health review rather than waiting until something becomes a severe problem.
“There are health imbalances between urban and rural populations which is why addressing men’s health is particularly important in regional WA. Running clinics goes a long way in attempt to address this imbalance.”
The RFDS crews host a BBQ in Aboriginal communities during the men’s clinic to break down barriers between the crews and local men seeking medical advice.
“Lately, we have had a fantastic turn out to the clinics and it’s encouraging to see new faces join in and engage with us. It is even better when the unfamiliar faces become regular visitors of the clinics!”
Rory is particularly conscious of the mental health of his patients, especially with the added impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I think the importance of recognising and addressing mental health problems cannot be overstated,” Dr Nannery said.
"In Australia, 20% of people experience mental illness in any given year. Within rural or isolated communities, this percentage is disproportionately higher.
“Now with the social isolation and financial impact of COVID, many will experience an even greater insult their mental well-being.
“Men are particularly poor at talking about and seeking help for afflictions of mental health. In many cases this anguish is expressed through further social withdrawal, self-harm, physically or through substance abuse.
“I strongly encourage anyone who is feeling low to pop in to see their local GP for a chat.”
RFDS WO ran 822 clinics in the past financial year in remote communities of Western Australia, providing care and medical advice for 6,876 patients.