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Why young men don’t take their health seriously
Men's Health Month and similar awareness campaigns typically place a spotlight on men aged 50 and older, urging them to prioritize their well-being and take better care of themselves. However, as we enter this June, it would be wise for us to realize that young men are the ones who need an extra lift when it comes to health. Allow me to explain why.
As a medical student at Creighton University Health Sciences Campus in Phoenix and an Arrupe Global Scholar, my classmates and I have the opportunity to serve and learn from patients from all walks of life. We see young men, both here in Phoenix and in other parts of the world, facing situations not seen by previous generations that are impacting both their mental and physical health.
Technologies like Artificial Intelligence are causing concerns about future employability. For some individuals, social media content plays a significant role in shaping relationships and our overall understanding of health, often with negative consequences. Furthermore, the process of adjusting to life after a pandemic presents a distinctive and unfamiliar challenge for everyone. All these factors have propelled people into uncharted territory, creating an uncertain environment that significantly influences the choices we make regarding our health and well-being.
This is why creating awareness about preventive healthcare among young men this month is so important.
It’s also worth remembering that several common chronic conditions among men, such as hypertension, diabetes, and others, may manifest later in life but are directly linked to choices made today. Establishing healthy routines can be challenging at any age, but incorporating good habits as early as you can in life, such as walking, consuming a balanced meal each day, and reducing alcohol intake, to mention a few, will yield long-term benefits. It requires some effort and intention to start doing these things with regularity, but thanks to the multitude of health apps that track exercise and nutrition choices, it has become more convenient to stay aware of daily decisions and maintain a healthier lifestyle.
Mental health is another pressing topic for younger men. Frequently, misconceptions about masculinity serve as a barrier to openly discussing anxiety or depression. Allowing such emotions to go unaddressed can result in feelings of hopelessness, which unfortunately aligns with alarming statistics. For instance, the National Foundation for Suicide Prevention reports that in 2021, men died by suicide at a rate 3.9 times higher than women—an unsettling but not entirely unexpected revelation. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control documents that, among males aged 19-44, suicide stands as the second leading cause of death, following unintentional injuries.
There is no doubt that societal pressures and expectations influence behavior, especially when it comes to men. They may feel compelled to conform to narrow and rigid ideals of masculinity, which can lead to hesitance in seeking help when necessary or disregarding early warning signs of chronic illnesses due to the fear of being seen as weak. Such beliefs should be left in the past.
Here are some healthier ideals to live by:
- Get sleep
- Eat right
- Create an exercise regimen that is easy to keep
- Talk to someone about stress or anxiety
- Scrutinize health information you read on social media or online
- See your doctor when you are not sick
- Replace a happy hour with an outdoor activity
There is no better way to show strength than to take care of yourself for the ones you love.
Author: Caleb Armendariz is completing his Doctor of Medicine and Master of Public Health degrees at Creighton University Health Sciences Campus in Phoenix through the Arrupe Global Scholars Program, a shared curriculum with the University’s campus in Omaha, NE. The program focuses on global health equity. His interest in health began as an undergraduate at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo where he started a vaccine program.