Changing the face of men’s health

Just a few days remain for those participating in ‘Movember’, the month long campaign that encourages men (and in spirit, women) to collect pledges while growing a moustache.

The end result can look a bit silly at times. But the message behind the campaign is all too serious. Money raised from Movember goes towards preventing men from dying too young-whether it be from diseases like prostate cancer to opening up a discussion on things like depression and suicide. Health is something a lot of men tend to not take very seriously. Numbers show it’s not just yours truly. A Cleveland Clinic survey suggests 60 per cent of men won’t go see a doctor unless they fear they have a serious medical condition. Even then it can sometimes be a battle for their loved ones to convince them to go and get it looked at by a professional. When it comes to diseases like cancer, early detection is key. Yet too many men don’t bother with a routine check-up if everything feels fine. Unfortunately with many preventable or curable diseases, by the time the real warning signs show up, it’s often too late.

It’s not just the ‘traditional’ diseases that are taking men far too early. According to the Movember website, globally, every minute a man dies by suicide. In Canada, 75 per cent of all suicides are men. Those numbers highlight a dangerous stereotype that is attached to boys at a young age. Talking about problems are often seen as a sign of weakness. Bottling up emotions is often the way men choose to deal with things rather than seeking help to have a difficult conversation. That line of thinking can often prevent teens and men from seeking help. Left to face their issues involving mental health on their own, they can become overwhelming. A lot of progress has been made in recent years in terms of how society views mental health.

Slowly but surely there’s been a shift, viewing these ailments for what they are-diseases, not a controllable weakness. But there is still a long way to go, particularly among men who are hesitant to reach out for help. Growing a moustache won’t solve these issues. But if it can at least get the ball rolling and help to break unhealthy stereotypes, it’s more than worthwhile. Getting involved doesn’t have to cost anything either. Simply making it known that there’s a place to go to talk without fear of judgement can sometimes make all the difference. Holidays and the winter months that follow can be a time when diseases such as depression and isolation are magnified. A simple act of kindness like offering to chat can go a long way.

Adam Prudhomme

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