June is Men’s Health Month, an annual observance aimed at raising awareness of preventable health problems and encouraging early detection and treatment of disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 14.9% of men aged 18 and over are in fair or poor health.
When last have you checked up on the men in your life? Statistics show that men deal with more illness than women and die younger than women. This is due to their reluctance to visit their healthcare providers and undertake regular screenings.
During Men’s Health Month, men are urged to take steps to better their health and wellness and encourage conversations about screenings and care.
Top causes of death
The Men's Health Network (MHN) reports that men die at higher rates than women from the top 10 causes of death - heart disease, cancer, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, accidents, pneumonia and influenza, diabetes, suicide, kidney disease, and chronic liver disease and cirrhosis.
There are unique barriers to health that men tend to face more than women. Men often experience health difficulties that can go unnoticed or neglected—hence the importance of encouraging regular check-ups.
The media portrays expectations for men to be strong, like superheroes and not to show signs of weakness. Men believe that sharing their emotions and showing pain makes them vulnerable. This socially ingrained mindset has blinded men and subconsciously trained them to believing that going to the doctor displays weakness.
On the other hand, about 21% of men admit to avoiding the doctor because they’re worried to find out what might be wrong. The pressure to hide weaknesses is so strong that it can even lead men into a state of denial.
We all know that men are known for not talking about their feelings. For men, discussing their emotions is a form of vulnerability that leads to discomfort. It can be scary for many men to start sharing their feelings, but this can benefit them in the long run. If feelings are expressed verbally, it is less likely that they will be expressed violently.
Mental and physical wellbeing
Many men struggle with their mental health and the stigma that surrounds it. This causes them to skip check-ups and screenings that can help them live longer, healthier lives.
Depression can also go undiagnosed in men because they don’t recognise the symptoms. Rather than feeling sadness, men sometimes experience depression as anger or irritability, and are likely to sweep these feelings under the rug. Men need to take the health of their mind and body seriously to avoid developing serious health issues.
Heart Disease is the No. 1 killer of men and women, affecting almost twice as many males. Men drink more heavily and smoke more frequently than women, causing issues like lung and heart disease, liver problems and preventable accidents. Apart from that, men tend to make less healthy food choices, where women eat more fruits and vegetables.
Some things, such as age and sex, cannot be controlled, but modifying your lifestyle to eat right and exercise can reduce your risk of heart disease.
Medical gender gap
There are certain conditions that are more prevalent in men. The “medical gender gap” and its consequences are real, with men dying five years earlier than women on average. Research and studies continue to show a significant difference when it comes to the health of men compared to women. While these differences are often associated with certain behaviours, it also helps pinpoint major issues that need to be addressed.
June is blue
Throughout June, Men’s Health Month aims to encourage boys and men to take charge of their overall health by implementing healthy lifestyle choices. With the devastating impact of Covid-19, it has become even more crucial for men to go for regular check-ups and be aware of the risks for their age, ethnicity, and lifestyle. Young boys need to be educated on the health statistics, implications and common causes that can have an effect on their life later down the line.
Let’s work together this month to create a cultural shift where men don’t find it embarrassing or emasculating to seek out medical help. There are so many preventable health problems, and by encouraging early detection we can help break the medical gap between men and women’s health.
No matter what health issues you might face, you can take command of your well-being by taking preventive and proactive steps today. Always take care of your mind, body and soul. Happy Men’s Health Month!