June is Men’s Health Month, a worldwide call to action to raise awareness of preventable health ailments often experienced by men and to educate adults and children alike about advanced detection, prevention, and treatment for men’s diseases and impairments.
Recognized by Congress as a yearly observance, Men’s Health Month – along with Men’s Health Week – reminds us of the lingering disparities between men and women’s health, as well as the critical role that men’s health plays in family dynamics and functioning. Not surprisingly, cultural norms are primarily to blame as they set dangerous standards for men, encouraging them to bury their emotions and frequently, their health.
So what exactly are some of the most unhealthy men’s habits?
Much of the list is comprised of a lack of habits: minimal self-care, poor eating habits, and even neglecting a history of family illnesses and inherited diseases. In fact, according to the American Psychological Association, men are much less likely than women to see physicians. In fact, 25 percent less likely to have visited a health-care provider in the past year.
Recognizing the need for counseling because of anxiety or depression is another problem. Not only are men less likely to care for their mental health, but they also pay fewer visits to the doctor in comparison to women. By avoiding immunizations, blood screening, and other health preventive activities, men put themselves at greater risk for diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure, and other health ailments. As men continue to fall behind women in terms of life expectancy and health outcomes, the need to emphasize men’s health becomes increasingly apparent.
Men also tend to lead riskier lifestyles than women, which often comes at a cost. According to the Center for Disease Control, in 2015, unintentional injury accounted for 4% of all female deaths and 6.8% of male deaths. In males, these fatal injuries include overdosing, motor vehicle accidents (MVA), and falls.
The Arizona Department of Transportation’s Motor Vehicle Crash Facts shows that in 2017, males were responsible for 70.89 percent of all alcohol-related crashes in the state, and this trend isn’t unique to Arizona. Research on driving under the influence outlines a disparity between men and women, indicating that men may be more likely to get behind the wheel while impaired.
Men also partake in riskier sex behaviors, practicing unprotected casual sex more often than women. As one study notes, differences between men and women’s condom use is attributed to each gender’s help-seeking behaviors, in which women are more likely to seek sexual help than men.
How can we combat this?
Although society can work to shift the narrative to encourage men to express their emotions, the key is to understand that men have the ultimate power to change their behaviors. With different ways to access primary care services, combined with mental health treatment, all they need to do is take that first step.
Dr. Arthur Pelberg, MD, is the Chief Medical Officer and Advisor at Bayless Integrated Healthcare. He is responsible for assisting to combine physical medicine practices with behavioral health services to improve patient outcomes and reduce healthcare-related spending. For more information about Dr. Pelberg and Bayless Integrated Healthcare, please visit www.baylesshealthcare.com.