The start of November kicks off the beginning of ‘Movember’ – an annual campaign that raises awareness and funds for various men’s health issues. Men around the world are encouraged to grow out a moustache (their ‘mo’) as part of the awareness-raising, hence the name Movember.
Men’s health, and in particular men’s mental health, may not be well understood by the general public. During Movember, men and boys are encouraged to learn and talk more about preventable health problems and to break the stigma of seeking professional medical support when needed. Understanding the importance of having annual health checks with your doctor to detect early signs of diseases and cancers – including prostate, testicular, and colorectal cancers – is an important part of men feeling more empowered and knowledgeable about their health and well-being.
The different dimensions of men’s health include:
Healthcare professionals talk a lot about the importance of exercise and a well-balanced diet, and these healthy habits shouldn’t be underestimated.
Regular exercise and mobility are important for all people. According to the World Health Organization’s Global Health Estimates, 7 of the top 10 leading causes of death globally are preventable diseases, including heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise and a nutritious diet can help to minimize the risk of developing preventable diseases or conditions.
And what do we mean by “regular exercise?” A good rule of thumb is to aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise, combined with weight training sessions every week. Aerobic exercises include walking, running, swimming or other sports. There is no one way to engage in regular exercise, and the key is to find and stick with whatever you enjoy.
To maintain a healthy diet, reduce the amount of processed or packaged foods which typically are high in salts, sugars, additives, and unhealthy fast. Instead, substitute with fresh fruits and vegetables, lean cuts of meat and poultry if you consume meat, fish, fibre-rich foods, and whole-grain products like brown rice or whole-grain bread.
Talk to your doctor for tailored recommendations on exercise and diet changes before making any drastic lifestyle changes. Discussing a lifestyle modification plan with your doctor ensures that it is a good fit for your body and health needs.
Mental health and suicide prevention
Mental illness and well-being have been stigmatized topics, but there is nothing wrong with talking about our emotional and mental status.
Compared to women, men are less likely to:
The World Health Organization states that nearly half the world’s population may be affected by some type of mental illness. An estimated 6 million men suffer from depressive disorders, including suicidal ideation. Although mental illness is common, mental disorders are underdiagnosed, partly due to the social stigma in talking about and understanding this common human condition. And when men are generally held to a standard of needing to “man up” through life’s problems, we can see why it may be difficult for men to feel comfortable talking about and learning more about their mental health.
Mental illness is more than having a one-off day – chronic, poor mental health can negatively impact a person’s overall well-being, to the point of even shortening one’s lifespan by an estimated 10-25 years for those with severe mental disorders. Suicide is one of these causes of early death. Destigmatizing the topic of mental health within our social circles is more than making it a trendy topic for small talk with friends: it can actually save lives.
Remember: it’s okay to not be okay. Reach out to your doctor to discuss options for improving your mental health and resilience.
Common cancers that men may find themselves living with include prostate, testicular, lung, skin, and colorectal. Worldwide, the top three types of cancer among men are lung, prostate, and colorectal and contribute to nearly 45% of all cancers.
Of all cancers, lung cancer is the most preventable with 90% of diagnoses found in smokers. Kicking the tobacco habit can significantly reduce the risk of developing lung cancer.
Globally, more than 1.4 million men are diagnosed with prostate cancer annually. Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer, and the exact causes are unknown. However, several factors may be potential contributors including age, family history, and diet. Prostate cancer can progress slowly over time and symptoms typically do not manifest until the prostate becomes large enough to put pressure on surrounding organs, thus affecting urination patterns. But not everyone may experience symptoms of prostate cancer.
Early detection is crucial in preventing the spread of cancerous cells in the body. Talk to your doctor about your family history’s of cancer and discuss when to start screenings for particular cancers, including prostate cancer.
1. World Health Organization. (n.d.). The top 10 causes of death. World Health Organization. Retrieved November 3, 2021, from https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/the-top-10-causes-of-death.
2. World Health Organization. (n.d.). Gender and women's mental health. World Health Organization. Retrieved November 3, 2021, from https://www.who.int/teams/mental-health-and-substance-use/promotion-prevention/gender-and-women-s-mental-health.
3. American Psychological Association. (n.d.). Men: A Different Depression. American Psychological Association. Retrieved November 3, 2021, from https://www.apa.org/research/action/men.
4. World Health Organization. (n.d.). Information sheet Premature death among people with severe mental disorders. World Health Organization. Retrieved November 3, 2021, from https://www.who.int/mental_health/management/info_sheet.pdf.
5. Cancer Facts for Men. American Cancer Society. (n.d.). Retrieved November 3, 2021, from https://www.cancer.org/healthy/cancer-facts/cancer-facts-for-men.html.