June is Men’s Health Awareness Month

My last post for Father’s Day indicated that June is also National Fathers Awareness Month which emphasizes the importance of fatherhood. It’s also National Men’s Health Month, which highlights the importance of male physical and mental health. While Pride Month and Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October receive most of the media attention, men’s health is equally important because it impacts how well a man shows up as a father, husband, and friend. In my opinion, having healthier, well-balanced men benefits everyone.

An Epidemic of Male Health

Studies show there is a growing concern about the overall health of men. According to the CDC, men die 5.8 years earlier than women as the average life expectancy of females in 2021 was 79.3 years and just 73.5 years for males. Some experts refer to as a “silent epidemic” due to the lack of public awareness and policy debate of the health of men’s compared to women’s health.

The leading causes of death in males include Heart Disease (24.3%) and Prostate and Testicular Cancer (21.6%) followed by Unintentional Injuries (7.4%), Chronic Lower Respiratory Disease (5.2%) Stroke (4.3%), Diabetes (3.3%) and Alzheimer’s Disease (2.6%). Most are preventable and many are treatable.

Men are their worst enemy when it comes to their physical and mental health. We are less likely than women to visit a doctor and rarely report symptoms to a healthcare provider. Just 60% of us go to the doctor for a yearly, routine check up. Over 40% won’t go until something is seriously wrong.

Male Suicide is on the Rise

Most concerning among these health concerns is that male suicide rates are on the rise. In 2022, the American Society for the Prevention of Suicide reported men die by suicide about 3.5 times more often than women. The University of Indiana School of Medicine also reported that 31% of all men suffer depression at some point in their lifetime with 9% having daily feelings of depression or anxiety. These are real concerns, specifically among middle-aged and older men.

As I wrote previously, Loneliness is a Huge Threat to our Health. Other factors that contribute to this rise in suicide among men include: increased substance abuse, social media, economic pressure, relationship breakdowns, and family issues. However, only 1/4 of men will talk to a mental health professional, and just 1/3 will take medication to help their struggle. 

There is also the negative stigma around mental health. Traditional masculine norms discourage men from expressing vulnerability and seeking help. Many males are taught that we’re supposed to be self-reliant and emotionally stoic. For some, even talking about their health and emotions is interpreted as not being “manly” and “strong.” A “real man” takes their physical and mental health seriously. 

Addressing Our Poor Health

Generally, men are reluctant to talk about their health concerns. This could be due to a fear of the doctor, embarrassment, or a worry about bad news. Many will ignore their symptoms. However, early detection and treatment are key to good health outcomes.  

Here are some ways to prioritize our health:

  • Promote Health Literacy: We need to educate ourselves about the importance of preventive care and early detection of health issues. Encourage your buddies to see their doctor at each once each year 
  • Challenge the Stereotypes: Men should challenge harmful masculine norms that discourage us from seeking help. “Man up” and go see your doctor or a counselor when needed!
  • Support Mental Health: We need support for mental health issues and reduce the stigma associated with seeking help.
  • Improve Access to Healthcare: Flexible hours and locations make healthcare more accessible and convenient for appointments during or after work. 
  • Encourage Open Communication: Guys need to foster environments where we feel comfortable discussing health issues.

Visiting a doctor, counselor, or mental health professional is like getting the oil changed or a tune-up on your car. Don’t wait for the check engine light to come on. Get help early to ensure your body and mind work effectively.

Friends Help Friends

As you know from reading my blog, I believe that men need deeper, more authentic friendships. They are a built-in support group. They can encourage and challenge you to be proactive about your health and well-being. They can provide support and pray for you during and after treatments for any of the aforementioned issues. Good friendships are critical to a man’s health.

Guys, let’s get more proactive about our overall well-being. Get an annual check-up. Check in with a counselor or psychologist periodically. Talk with close friends who have already had similar treatments. Eliminate the bad habits that affect your health. The benefit is that you will live longer and healthier which will help you show up as a better man in the world. 

Wisdom for Men is based on my opinions on topics that help men become better men. The sources used for these posts are not fact-checked, but support my theory that men are better with deeper, more authentic friendships. My GodBuddy theory is based on biblical principles but applies to all men, regardless of their beliefs. Better friendships among men will help solve the crisis of male friendships and many of today’s problems… because the world needs better men!

[Feature Photo: The Freedom Center – Addiction Treatment Centers. Other Sources include CDC National Health Interview Survey, Men’s Health Network report: Men’s Health Network, Harvard Health Publishing article: Why men avoid the doctor, and Our World in Data: Why do women live longer than men?]


2 Responses

  1. Thanks, Rich. A good reminder to be proactive with my health. Now to schedule a physical! Jeff

    1. Thanks for responding Jeff. Yes, monitoring our health is important for men so we can get ahead of any potential medical issues that keep us from being becoming the healthy man our families need.

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