November isn’t just a month to enjoy the longer evenings and warmer weather, it’s also a time to focus on men’s health issues through initiatives like Movember. This annual campaign spotlights a range of health challenges men face but has traditionally been reluctant to discuss openly. It aims to encourage open conversations about men’s health, encompassing physical and mental well-being, as well as the necessary steps to address these concerns.
Some of the key health issues that Movember highlights are prostate and testicular cancer. Prostate cancer stands as the second most common cancer among men worldwide and occurs when cells in the prostate, a walnut-sized gland located below the bladder, begin to grow uncontrollably.
It’s treatable but early detection is critical, as symptoms may not manifest until the cancer has progressed. Treatment options range from active surveillance for low-risk cases to surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy for more advanced stages.
Among young men between the ages of 15 and 44, testicular cancer is one of the most common and one of the most treatable. With early diagnosis and appropriate treatment, the prognosis for testicular cancer is generally excellent, and the chances of a full recovery are high. Regular self-examinations can lead to early detection. Yet, embarrassment often keeps men from addressing this issue.
Mental health issues, including depression and anxiety, affect countless men but sadly, societal expectations have cast men as stoic and unemotional beings, which has contributed to a lack of open dialogues. Breaking down this stereotype and encouraging a culture where men can seek help for this is part of the November campaign.
Unfortunately, men are more likely to succumb to suicide than women. The stigma surrounding mental health issues and their reluctance to seek help contribute to this, but open conversations and accessible resources can make a significant difference.
Heart disease still stands out as a leading cause of death among men and lifestyle factors like smoking, poor diet, and a sedentary lifestyle play a significant role in this. Encouraging men to make healthier choices can lead to improved heart health.
Lack of open discussion
The traditional silence surrounding men’s health issues has been perpetuated by several factors. Societal expectations and gender norms have long discouraged men from discussing their feelings, and health concerns, or seeking help. Men have been conditioned to be stoic, self-reliant, and to avoid showing vulnerability, and this has impacted not only their mental health but also the reporting of physical health issues.
The “man up” culture has played a part in this silence, suggesting that seeking help or showing emotional vulnerability is a sign of weakness. These deeply ingrained beliefs have made men hesitant to address their health concerns and less likely to seek medical assistance when needed. Additionally, the lack of awareness and dialogue about men’s health issues perpetuates the cycle of silence.
Breaking the silence on men’s health issues can save lives. Early detection and treatment are often the key to survival in various health conditions. Moreover, discussing these issues openly helps reduce stigma and encourages men to seek help when needed.
What to do if you’re experiencing these issues
If you suspect you’re dealing with one of these issues, don’t let fear or stigma hold you back. Take action and seek help from a National Safety and Quality Health Service (NSQHS) accredited healthcare organization. They can provide an accurate diagnosis, discuss treatment options, and recommend lifestyle changes that can improve your health.
For conditions like testicular cancer, regular self-exams can help in early detection. Learn how to perform them and make it a routine.
If it’s mental health issues you’re struggling with, try to open up. Share your concerns with a trusted friend, family member, or mental health professional, particularly one that has obtained NSQHS accreditation. This is a sign that the quality of care they are providing is of high quality and in your best interest as a patient.
What role do healthcare professionals play?
Doctors and healthcare professionals play a crucial role in breaking the silence surrounding men’s health issues. They can be trusted sources of information, guidance, and support for individuals facing these challenges.
By creating a safe and open environment, healthcare professionals can establish a non-judgemental atmosphere in their practice. They should reassure patients that there is no need to be embarrassed about these discussions and educate them on the risks, symptoms and preventative measures of common conditions.
You can also reassure the men in your community and on your patient register that you are providing top-notch care by obtaining accreditation to the NSQHS Standards for your clinic or practice. There are a number of agencies in Australia that can take you through this process step-by-step and make sure you’re meeting the standards.
In conclusion, this November, let’s all participate in the November campaign by taking a proactive approach to men’s health. Breaking the silence surrounding these issues is the first step in improving the well-being of men everywhere. By discussing these problems openly, we not only save lives but also create a healthier and more supportive society.