Why We Need National Men’s Health Month

We have lots of special months for special groups of people, from National Breastfeeding Month to Minority Mental Health Awareness Month. But men are not an underserved population, so why do they need a special Men’s Health Month?

Men are statistically more prone to certain conditions, such as heart disease, prostate cancer, and mental health disorders. Men do not live as long as women and are more likely to die from cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and suicide than women. What’s more, societal expectations of masculinity often discourage men from seeking help or discussing their health concerns openly. Men’s Health Month seeks to challenge these norms and provide a supportive environment where men can prioritize their well-being without stigma or judgment.

Promoting preventive care

Traditionally, men have been expected to be strong and stoical, protecting others and putting themselves in harm’s way for the benefit of others. One of the side effects of this tradition is that many men fail to take care of themselves. 

Men’s Health Month emphasizes the importance of adopting healthy habits, such as maintaining a balanced diet, engaging in regular physical activity, managing stress levels, and avoiding tobacco and excessive alcohol consumption. Some men feel that paying attention to diet and exercise just isn’t manly, though, and have a hard time admitting that they care. Men’s Health Month can help balance this bias.

Regular health screenings and check-ups are also crucial for early detection and intervention. Unfortunately, visiting a doctor strikes some guys as showing a lack of strength. They’re mistaken. While some men may feel that going for a regular checkup is a sign of weakness, it’s actually a proactive step in staying strong and healthy. This is a great month to make an appointment with your primary care physician. In fact, it’s a great month to encourage your friends and family to do the same, especially the men. 

Addressing mental health

If men hesitate to see a doctor when they have physical health issues, it is even more common for men to “walk it off” when they face mental health concerns. Seeing a therapist, practicing self-care, and even talking with friends about worries or moods may seem wimpy to some men. 

This is an attitude we need to get over. Ignoring mental health needs is not a sign of strength. 

In a survey conducted by Men’s Health, 34% of the respondents said they’d be comfortable talking about depression — if they weren’t the first to start the conversation. In honor of Men’s Health Month, why not open that kind of conversation with a man you know?

Community engagement and support

They say it takes a village to raise a child. It can also take a whole community to empower men to take care of themselves. Wear blue, use the hashtag #ShowUsYourBlue on social media, and make a point to talk about men’s health issues this month. 

Take it a step further. If you cook for men, add fruits and vegetables to the menu. If you hang out with men, plan some active fun in place of sedentary activities. Encourage the men in your life to make that doctor’s appointment they’ve been putting off. 

Next June might see better stats for men’s health if we all make an effort.