International Men’s Health Week (IMHW) is celebrated in many countries.. This week is celebrated before Father’s Day to enlighten on issues facing men’s health. For the first time in 2002, men’s health organizations met in Vienna, Austria and decided to work together regarding men’s health. The IMHW is from 13TH June to 19th June, 2022(ends on 19th June, the 3rd Sunday of the month –Father’s Day). This year, the world is still in the grip of the pandemic, it becomes all the more significant to celebrate the week. It is our turn now to highlight among politicians, policymakers, health professionals and the public that men are worth saving.
MEHUL had a mental health problem, and this affected his life directly and indirectly. When he was in high school his dad committed suicide and it had a huge impact on his life. He went into depression for three long years. He felt he couldn’t do things that he wanted to. It was a challenge, a self-stigma. His mental –health held him back from doing things. His mother helped him and took him to a doctor, psychotherapy was done and it helped him. Today he does things he wanted to do and manages his mental –health too. He encourages people to speak up about their mental health problems and to get help. Mehul has joined an organization that helps men and boys to better their lives.
RAHIL suffered from Agoraphobia (fear of being alone in open spaces). He did not discuss it with anyone. When he saw people being bullied, who had the same problem on television, he felt ashamed of himself, and all the more went under wraps. He knew it was a typical masculine problem and he himself should deal with it. The less he talked about it, the bigger the problem it became. Then he decided to speak to his mother and felt like a weight off his shoulders and also started losing the stigma over it. The more he talked about it the better he felt. He says we are living in a world with social media, where we can see so many people –even men speaking about their physical and mental problems. Today very often he speaks to friends and helps if they have problem in speaking up.
Physicians and men’s health organizations decided to bring about awareness regarding health concerns in men, boys, and their families like Diabetes, Osteoporosis, Family Health, and Workplace accidents and to speak to men who have suicidal tendencies or if there are a victim of homicide.
Generally, men and boys tend to neglect their health, so Men’s Health Week helps to educate the public about what can be done to improve men’s health, so free and convenient health services are provided. The programs are helpful to encourage early detection and treatment of diseases among men and boys. Women face some serious health disparities. This doesn’t mean that men don’t face such challenges and they go unnoticed, so it is important to have a men’s health week and bring about awareness on men’s health issues.
In many countries during this week educational lectures are given by sports persons, free health screening is done, and health fairs and seminars are conducted. Events are planned in such a way that men with a busy schedule can also attend. Men’s Health Week focuses on not just physical health, but also on men’s mental and emotional wellbeing.
FOUR NOTEWORTHY FACTS TO KNOW ABOUT — MEN’S HEALTH WEEK:
- MEN AND HEALTH CARE: People love superheroes like Spiderman and Superman. They are fearless and tough. So men rarely show any signs of weakness as they are projected as Superheroes. Their mindset subconsciously trains them that a man going to a doctor exhibits their weakness. They are frightened of diagnosis as what might go wrong and visit a doctor only when they have a serious health issue. Hence this week let’s get together encourage men to seek medical help regularly.
- PROSTATE CANCER AFFECTS ONE IN NINE MEN: Prostate Cancer is the most common cancer among men. Though this cancer does not need immediate medical help, it’s better to educate men to be on the safe side, earlier the diagnosis easier to be treated.
- MENTAL HEALTH STIGMA: Many men struggle from mental health and the stigma that surrounds it. They suffer from depression and hesitate to seek medical help. They don’t share their feelings, emotions and so express them violently. So speak to the men in your life, encourage them to talk, this will improve their mental health.
THE AVERAGE MAN SHOULD MAKE BETTER LIFESTYLE CHOICES: Men drink more heavily and smoke more frequently than women. This can cause a lot of health problems. Men do not take care of their eating habits also. They prefer meat and dairy products than fruits and vegetables. Hence their life span is also shorter than women. Now it’s time to speak on this issue too.
It is seen that people are most likely to experience stigma and discrimination from family and friends, so it’s important to make sure that every family member and friend is supportive in helping them to come out of the problem.
Bill Richardson says,” Recognizing and preventing men’s health problems is not just a man’s issue, because of its impact on wives, mothers, daughters and sisters, men’s health is truly family issue.”
A FEW TIPS ON WHAT AND WHEN IT’S TIME TO TALK:
- Offer non-judgmental advice and listen.
- Avoid saying ‘it will pass,’ or ‘just need to give some time.’
- Avoid arguments and confrontation.
- Help out with practical things like shopping, cleaning, looking after children, collecting medication.
- Avoid showing concern or fear through your body language.
- Encourage them to see a doctor when they are ready.
The above facts show that men’s health issues deserve attention. Men need to be encouraged to continue to seek health care. Even after the completion of June month, it’s our responsibility to encourage men to talk about their health. On account of misinformation, we have already lost many of our grandfathers, fathers, uncles, sons, and loved ones. Organize and attend seminars during this Men’s Health Week and address the myths and help to remove the stigmas existing in the community. Remember the ball is in your court! To handle the situation with care and wisely.