This week, we celebrated Father’s Day. In celebrating them, we celebrate their contributions and their roles but we should also celebrate their health and wellbeing. However, if you think about any male figure in your life, does he always seem to be dodging the doctor?
Excuses such as: “It will heal on its own” or “It doesn’t hurt that bad” are common. It seems that men do not enjoy engaging in discussions surrounding their health.
Vulnerability may be part of the reason that men are not giving physicians the full story when they do make appointments.
The statistics show…many men would rather suffer
• 72% of men surveyed would rather be doing household chores than making a doctor’s appointment.
• 65% of men surveyed stated that they typically avoid seeing a doctor for as long as possible
• 20% of participants were able to admit that they have not always been 100% honest with their health-care provider.
• 37% of men who participated in the survey have withheld information from their doctors in the past.
These numbers from a Harvard Health survey, while alarming to see on paper, make total sense.
There is the perception as a man, that you should be able to handle your own business, and that seeking help or guidance may be perceived as weakness.
Studies also show that men typically do not enjoy hearing about their lifestyle choices such as drinking, smoking, and eating habits and they already know those areas need improvement.
What is the number one condition that men are most likely to ignore?
Heart disease is the number one killer of men.
Mental Health challenges come in at number two with various cancers being a close third.
Research has found that heart attacks are twice as common in men than women throughout life, and heart disease is the leading cause of death in men over the age of 45.
Fortunately, there is plenty of good lifestyle choices you can make to keep your heart, body and mind strong and healthy.
Aerobic exercise is one of them. Several studies have established a link between a higher rate of cardiovascular events and sedentary lifestyles.
Aim for around half an hour of moderate physical activity every day.
On the other end of the spectrum, smoking can be a significant detriment to your heart.
You will likely have heard plenty of reasons not to smoke, but here are a few more: nicotine constricts blood vessels and carbon monoxide can damage them, and heart attacks are more common in smokers than non-smokers.
Why are men struggling – and what can be done about it?
Mental Health is a hugely sensitive, complex issue with a tangled multitude of causes, and the very nature means we may never fully understand the reasons behind it.
However, one identifiable issue is communication.
It is too simplistic to say women are willing to share their problems and men tend to bottle them up, but it is true that for generations, many societies have encouraged men to be “strong” and not admit they are struggling.
It often starts in childhood. We tell boys that: “Boys don’t cry”, we condition boys from a noticeably young age to not express emotion, because to express emotion is to be “weak.”
The Centre for Suicide Prevention, in Canada highlighted: “It’s how we talk to our children and how we encourage them to communicate about themselves too.
“Mothers encourage their girl children to express their emotions way more than their boy children...and they share and identify feelings more,” Mara Grunau, executive director says.
“Whereas boys go through similar episodes but expected to be tough.”
Rigid gender norms may make it difficult for males to reach out and ask for support when they need it.
It’s not that men don’t have the same issues as women––but they are less likely to recognise they have whatever stresses or mental health conditions, that are putting them at greater risk for suicide.
Mindset for Future
Generations of Men
The more men understand and are encouraged to take their health into their own hands, the better their outcomes for early reporting of preventable diseases.
We all need to campaign together to get more men seen by their primary care physician at least once a year for a baseline physical.
The more they go, the more comfortable they will get with discussing issues men may perceive as oversharing and uncomfortable.
Partnering with places where men typically hang out (such as golf courses and athletic clubs), will hopefully help outreach and get men scheduled with their doctors.
There is good news, however, as the younger generation is very tech-focused, so health websites have been helpful tools.
They have helped shift how these young men think increasing their basic health knowledge.
It’s safe to say the curiosity is there, but getting them to the doctor is still a work in progress.
HEALTH PLUS puts a lens on Men’s Health.
We ask our readers, “Why do men not prioritise or pay attention to their health?”
If you wish to contact us with your comments, send us an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org