Men's Health Matter - June 2017

Men's Health Week June 12-18, 2017

By OK In Health's Articles

a group of men
Men's Health Week June 12-18, 2017

The goal of Canadian Men's Health Week is to improve the health of men and families in Canada and the world. Unfortunately, Canadian men are not that healthy because of lifestyle choices. In fact, the statistics are alarming. According to the Canadian Men's Health Foundation:
  • Men are three times more likely to commit suicide
  • 67 percent of men are overweight or obese
  • Men are not managing their chronic conditions - men are more than twice as likely to die from liver disease, 57 percent more likely to die from diabetes, and 79 percent more likely to die from heart disease.

Men’s Health Week in Canada, started in 2014, is part of an international event also held in Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Ireland, the United States, Denmark, Austria and the Netherlands. The event honours the importance of men’s health and wellness. Men’s Health Week was chosen for this specific time of year to make use of the extra attention paid to male family members near Father’s Day. Men’s Health Week is meant to educate the public about what can be done to improve the state of men’s health and provide health information to men and their families.

During the week of the 12th to 18th of June, check out the Canadian Men's Health Week website where you will find opinion editorials, articles, and tweets.

The Canadian Men’s Health Foundation (CMHF) is a national, not for profit organization established in 2014 by its visionary Dr. Larry Goldenberg and founding President Wayne Hartrick. The mission of CMHF is to inspire Canadian men to live healthier lives. A helpful section of the Canadian Men's Health Foundation website is the resource section, where you will find easy to understand information on health issues based on age, knowing your numbers for such things as blood pressure and glucose levels, along with brochures on specific topics such as diabetes, erectile dysfunction, suicide and stress to name a few.  This is an excellent link to pass on to the men in your life.  Another useful tool is the health assessment for men called YouCheck for Men. YouCheck lets men know where they stand health wise. While YouCheck cannot replace a visit to a doctor, it is a great place to start understanding your health. YouCheck is free and 100% confidential.

June 13th is Men's Mental Health Awareness Day. The goals of the day are to:
  • Raise awareness of how signs and symptoms of mental health conditions may present themselves differently in men.
  • Normalize conversations about mental health issues to reduce the stigma that prevents men from seeking help.
Here are some facts about men's mental health:
  • Men have high rates of various mental health issues. In Canada, one in ten men will experience major depression in the course of their lives. While women are twice as likely to be diagnosed with a depression-related condition, men are 3 to 4 times more likely than women to die by suicide. On average 8 men each day take their life through suicide in Canada. There are many reasons why more men commit suicide. One reasons is that men in workplace environments such as farming, fish, forestry, construction and first responders can work in isolation. We know these occupations have high suicide rates due to lack of support and also easy access to the means to take their lives.
  • Men are significantly less likely to use mental health services because it goes against the notion of masculinity and carries stigma. The barrier to disclosing feelings comes from the societal expectation that men are strong, don't ask for help and should be able to cope on their own. As a result of this expectation, men who are suicidal and have mental health issues are much more likely to suffer in silence, particularly minority men. Additionally, some men do not know what mental health services are available to them, and even if they do know, sometimes these services are not user friendly for men. For all these reasons, Dr. Robert Whitley of McGill University calls men's mental health a silent crisis.
Depression is one of the leading risk factors for suicide. As described by the HeadsUpGuys website, depression is a real medical condition that can affect the body, thoughts and emotions and behaviour, and is beyond sadness. It is important to consider that symptoms are unique to the individual and vary in intensity and duration. The Self-Check depression screening tool is available from HeadsUpGuys website.

The common symptoms of depression include:
  • irritable mood
  • decreased interest or pleasure
  • change in sleep
  • change in activity
  • fatigue/loss of energy
  • guilt/worthlessness
  • trouble concentrating and making decisions
  • suicidal thoughts
Men typically don't present with the characteristic signs and symptoms of depression. Often, they are in denial and do not acknowledge their feelings of sadness, hopelessness or guilt or they keep these feelings hidden with other behaviours such as:
  • being irritable and aggressive
  • working compulsively
  • losing interest in work, family or hobbies
  • isolating themselves
  • drinking more than normal, or
  • engaging in high risk behaviours.
The number one action to take is to recognize depression and seek treatment, as would be done for any other injury or illness. The good news is that, according to WebMD, more than 80 percent of people with depression improve with medication, talk therapy, or a combination of the two. When these strategies are not effective, other cutting-edge treatments are available.

Resources for men's health
  • Don't Change Much website from the Canadian Men's Health Foundation
  • HeadsUpGuys website is a resource for supporting men in their fight against depression by providing tips, tools, information about professional services, and stories of success.
  • The Men's Depression Education Network website
  • The Movember Foundation website (a charity whose cause is to stop men from dying too young, and is the only charity addressing men's health on a global scale)
Source: Psychology Today website, HeadsUpGuys website, WebMD website 

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