June is Men’s Health Month, a time dedicated to raising awareness about the health challenges men face and encouraging them to take proactive steps towards maintaining their well-being. Men’s health encompasses a wide range of issues, including physical fitness, mental health, and preventative care.

This month offers an opportunity to highlight the importance of regular health check-ups, a balanced lifestyle, and the need for mental and emotional support. Overcoming stigmas and taking proactive measures can ensure age related problems are dealt with in a productive manner.

Understanding Men’s Health Issues

Men have a higher risk of heart disease, stroke, and sudden death than women. They are less likely to seek and get treatment for emotional conditions such as major depression, even though studies tell us over 30% of men suffer depression in their lifetime. Men are also more likely to use illicit drugs and alcohol.[1]

Other conditions, such as prostate and testicular cancer and erectile dysfunction are experienced by men alone. Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths for men but is often treatable if discovered early. Erectile dysfunction affects nearly 30 million men of all ages nationally.

The Importance of Preventive Care

Preventative care is a cornerstone of maintaining good health. Regular check-ups and screenings can detect potential health issues before they become serious problems. Issues such as heart disease, prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health conditions, and erectile dysfunction are all conditions that can be successfully managed with the right guidance.

Men should find a doctor they are comfortable with while they are in their 20’s. Annual check-ups with a healthcare provider can help monitor vital signs, cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and other critical health indicators of health.

Staying up to date with vaccinations is important for both men and women. The flu vaccine, tetanus booster, shingles vaccine (for those over 50), and certain other vaccinations are essential components of a preventative health strategy.

Self-exams for testicular cancer should begin around 15, while physician cancer screenings generally begin when a man reaches his 40’s. Prostate health and functional changes are poorly understood by most men. As noted, prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in men behind only lung cancer. For a complete understanding of prostate health and problems with erectile dysfunction, check out this information from the American Urological Association[2].

Mental and Emotional Wellbeing

Mental health is a critical component of overall wellbeing. Men are often conditioned to suppress their emotions, which can lead to long-term emotional health issues. Breaking the stigma around mental health and promoting open conversations is essential.

Here are some strategies for maintaining mental and emotional well-being that work for both men and women:

  • Talk About It: Don’t hesitate to discuss your feelings with trusted friends, family, or a mental health professional. Sharing your thoughts can provide relief and offer new perspectives. Work hard to communicate openly and honestly and remember to listen and respect other people’s points of view. Effective communication is a skill that needs to be learned and practiced but it fosters meaningful connections with others. For an overview of great communication skills, take a look at this article from the Harvard Division of Continuing Education[3].
  • Practice Mindfulness: Mindfulness and meditation are learnable skills that can reduce stress and improve mental clarity. Simple practices like deep breathing exercises, yoga, interacting with a pet, or spending time in nature can promote a sense of calm and reverse the effects of stress on your body and mind. Engaging in mindfulness teaches emotional regulation, making it easier to manage daily stressors and emotional challenges. Deep breathing can be practiced anywhere, anytime and can offer immediate relief during stressful situations. Yoga combines physical movement with mindful breathing, improving both mental and physical health.
  • Seek Professional Help: If you’re struggling with mental health issues, seeking help from a psychologist, psychiatrist, or counselor can be life-changing, and in some cases, lifesaving. These professionals are trained to diagnose and treat a wide range of mental health issues, from anxiety and depression to more complex conditions. Professional support and assistance can provide effective tools for managing mental health conditions and empower people to successfully overcome obstacles. Finding a therapist that is right for you can be a challenge, but the rewards are great. The National Alliance on Mental Illness[4] offers an overview of the different types of mental health care professionals available for guidance. Talk to your primary doctor, other professionals, and close friends and family about providers they recommend.

Take Action

Men’s Health Month is a celebration of the proactive steps men can make to prioritize their health. By focusing on preventative care, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and addressing mental health needs, men can improve their quality of life and their chances of staying healthy. Celebrate June by scheduling a health check-up, starting a new fitness routine, or having an open conversation with someone you care about. Your health is your greatest asset, and it’s worth investing in.

[1] https://www.addictioncenter.com/addiction/differences-men-women/#:~:text=Typically%2C%20men%20are%20more%20likely,overdose%20due%20to%20substance%20abuse.

[2] https://www.urologyhealth.org/media-center/mens-health-month

[3] https://professional.dce.harvard.edu/blog/8-ways-you-can-improve-your-communication-skills/

[4] https://www.nami.org/about-mental-illness/treatments/types-of-mental-health-professionals/

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