BY MICHELLE SMITH
The month of June has been dedicated to the awareness regarding Men’s health which also included June 14th as being Men’s Mental Health Day. As your advocate I believe that this is a platform to discuss ways in which we can improve our lives.
The purpose of Men’s Health Month is to increase the awareness of preventable health problems and encourage early detection and treatment of diseases amongst men and boys.
During my working career, it has always been heart wrenching to watch families go through health crisis, whether it is caused by a mother or a father. But let’s face the facts women tend to have a better relationship with going to their doctor at the first sign or symptom of a health concern. Going to the doctor isn’t everyone’s favourite thing in the world, but it’s important, both when you are sick and for preventive care.
Men, however, are much more reluctant than women to go to the doctor, whether it’s for a regular checkup or for a pressing health concerns. This is something that I have observed first hand with being a nurse. In the spirit of Men’s Health Month, it is also important to develop conversations and practice regarding good health especially with young boys. You can do this by teaching young boys that it is ok to speak about how they are feeling both physically and mentally. Remember healthy habits start early. Ignoring even a mild health concern until it goes away could actually make it worse if treatment is required. The most commonly cited reasons as to why men don’t seek medical attention or change unhealthy habits is normally because men have stated that they didn’t feel sick, or sick enough, to seek medical help. The problem with this reasoning, is feeling healthy doesn’t necessarily mean you are healthy. High blood pressure and high cholesterol don’t have obvious symptoms, but these conditions put men at risk for potentially fatal medical problems, such as cardiovascular disease or stroke. Many cancers are easy to miss until they progress and become difficult to treat. Let’s not forget to include that mental health is also a big part of men’s health concerns including depression and substance abuse which often times goes untreated.
With June being the start of barbecue season, there is no time like the present to remind the men and boys in your lives that their health is important. It is cited that colon and prostate cancers are associated with diets high in fat and red meat. It has also been cited that clorectal cancer (CRC) is the second most common form of cancer in men and the third most common form of cancer, after breast and lung cancer in women. The summer months are a great time to start healthy changes like switching your steak for chicken, making homemade burgers instead of processed burgers, adding veggies to the grill and of course we can’t forget about choosing healthier hotdogs which is always a staple for any barbecue grill. Another step that you can take should be reading the labels when buying hotdogs and other products keeping in mind that you want to use brands with less sodium, less fat and less processed.
Men’s health is a family Issue that shouldn’t be done alone. We should all take steps to be healthier, whether it’s your husband, partner, dad, brother, son or friend, you can help support the health and safety of the men in your life. Remember you are the most important part of your health care team.