June is Men’s Health Awareness Month

CategoriesTravel Nursing

June is recognized as Men’s Health Month, and with that comes a renewed interest in keeping yourself and those around you healthy. With travel nursing comes long hours and constantly changing environments. It can be easy to get caught up on the health of others and lose sight of your own health. 

In relatively recent history, our society has made enormous strides in gender equality, but occasionally it’s important to stop and reflect on the ways we differ. Men disproportionately suffer from a variety of different health challenges, and it’s useful to understand the nuances of those differences. Take mental health for example, of the total 38,364 Americans that lost their lives by suicide in 2010, 79% were men and the number is only rising. Men are also less likely to seek help for not only mental health challenges like anxiety and depression but also substance abuse and stressful life events. Recognizing the signs of distress and knowing what to do when that happens is crucial for not just men to know, but all health professionals too.

The Signs

Often, it’s thought that feeling down or emotional are the main symptoms of depression, but men mostly present different symptoms. This can make it difficult to recognize them when they do crop up. On top of that, men frequently downplay signs and symptoms or deny them when asked. Some of the less obvious symptoms to look out for are irritability, tiredness, headaches, digestive issues, and distraction-seeking. Furthermore, men notoriously show fewer warning signs of suicide, so it’s even more imperative to recognize them early on and respond appropriately.

How to Respond

The most common treatments for depression are medicine, psychotherapy, or a combination of both. While these treatments can be very effective, there are some things to note before recommending them. If you believe you’ve recognized the signs in another person, they may not recognize the symptoms themselves for some of the reasons listed above. Starting by talking about the physical symptoms and the possible implications of those can be a good first option. It may also be a good idea to suggest they talk to their primary care physician; though trust in physicians decreased during the COVID-19 pandemic, people’s trust in their primary doctor is still high overall, and they are more likely to respond to someone they’re comfortable with. Whatever the topic of discussion, the most important thing to remember is to speak with empathy and express support wherever possible.

Tips for Keeping Healthy

We’ve covered some ways to react when things get bad, but luckily there are several ways to proactively keep healthy for some of the specific health challenges men face.

  1. Stay active and maintain a healthy diet – heart disease is the leading cause of death among American men. Mayo Clinic recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise, 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise, and two or more strength training sessions per week. Additionally, limiting intake of salt, sugar, processed carbohydrates, alcohol, and saturated fat can all help towards good heart health. Diet and exercise also have the huge added benefit of treating and preventing depression.
  2. Protect your skin –  the American Academy of Dermatology tells us that men over 50 are at particular risk of melanoma, so be sure to spend some time in the shade and wear sunscreen!
  3. Get checked and increase awareness of cancer risks – prostate cancer is the second most common cancer diagnosis for American Men. Any urinary troubles should be followed up on by a visit to the doctor since it could be a sign of prostate problems. Moreover, colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the US, and it’s important to begin screenings around the age of 50 to get ahead of it.

Keeping yourself and those around you healthy can seem daunting and figuring out how to do that is half the battle, but Men’s Health Month is a great opportunity to share some health tips with those around you!

Have some more tips? Let us know!

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