June is Mens Health Awareness Month. “The purpose of Men’s Health Month is to heighten the awareness of preventable health problems and encourage early detection and treatment of disease among men and boys.”
I think it is fair to say that sometimes men struggle to seek help when they have an initial health worry, in fact, most likely they will put off seeking help or reassurance, until the issue has worsened.
Men suffer from more health conditions than women, and many of these are preventable. The purpose of this month is to raise awareness of the cause, to encourage males to seek help sooner, and to be aware of the lifestyle changes and symptoms to look for that could make all the difference in their health.
Leading causes of premature death in men include heart-related diseases and various forms of cancer – especially lung and prostate cancer – stroke, diabetes and suicide.
So what can be done? Of course eating healthily and keeping physically active are important when it comes to maintaining your overall health and wellbeing. We should enjoy a variety of healthy foods, get enough sleep, and avoid regular consumption of alcohol and give up the smokes. However the biggest change men can make is speaking up when something doesn’t feel right.
Now perhaps you’re thinking, you don’t want a full lifestyle overhaul, you don’t have time or it is just too high a mountain to climb? Well, if you start small and to begin with just cut down on certain bad food choices, or commit to more physical activity in your day, that is a step in the right direction. You do this until it becomes the normal, then you can make some more small changes. You will be surprised at the big results you see by making just a couple of small changes in your lifestyle and how much better you feel. When it comes to exercise, just 30 mins a day of moderate exercise to get the heart rate up will also have a positive impact on your health. At least 2.5 hours a week, and you will start to see a positive change.
One of the most important things is to have regular check-ups with your GP, and make sure you attend any free screenings or tests that are offered. Whilst no one wants to think something could be wrong with their health, early detection is truly lifesaving, and avoiding the GP could result in something preventable becoming something much more serious. For some illnesses, there are no early symptoms, so having regular check-ups and blood tests can be vital in detecting things early.
It is important to be aware of our family health history, so that if a medical condition is in the family, we can ensure early screenings and priority check-ups. Plus, as we begin to age we must pay more attention to our health and monitor our wellbeing as a priority. You should be aware of any age related illnesses, or any potential high risk factors that could affect your health in the future.
We are the only people who know exactly what is going on with our health – both physically and mentally – and how we truly feel. If something hasn’t felt right for a long period of time, then it is time to seek professional help. An initial chat with the NHS on 111, could help you work through some symptoms, give you peace of mind and get you on the right path for diagnosis and support.
When it comes to mental health, research suggests that societies expectations of what it is to be “male” and how “men” behave, is associated with increased stress and poor mental health. Men are less likely to access psychological support, and have a much higher rate of suicide than women, in 2017, 75% of suicides recorded in the UK were male.
There is nothing weak about seeking help, we wouldn’t think twice in getting our child, pet or even our car checked out immediately if something doesn’t seem right. It is so important that men know where to get help, how to access to the healthcare information they need, and that the stigma of seeking help is eliminated.
There are lots of websites and resources where you can find out about mens health, symptoms to look for, where to attend free screenings and tips on improving your health and wellbeing both physically and mentally, and more.