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Taking Ownership: A Great Way to Celebrate Men's Health Week

By Liz Ferrell, Development & Community Relations Specialist

 


Sunday is Father’s Day – a great way to cap off Men’s Health Week and celebrate all the men in our lives and the good they bring. This year HOPE Family Health observes Men’s Health Week by sharing important information with our readers that can help men stay on top of their health and enjoy long, full lives.

 

HOPE’s integrated, team-based approach to healthcare emphasizes prevention. Both new and established patients undergo standard medical and behavioral health screenings, at intake and annually thereafter, that are crucial to preventing and managing some of the most common health risks that men face.

 

Biggest health risks for men

Men and women share certain health concerns; heart disease and cancer are the leading causes of death for both genders. However, some health conditions naturally pose a higher risk for men than for women.

 




According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the leading causes of death for men include: heart disease; cancer (with lung, prostate and colorectal being the most diagnosed); unintentional injuries; chronic lower respiratory diseases; stroke; Alzheimer’s disease; diabetes; suicide; influenza and pneumonia; and chronic liver disease.

 

  • Prostate cancer poses a particular risk and, according to the CDC, is second only to lung cancer as a cause of cancer deaths in men. Information on the Mayo Clinic website indicates that prostate cancer is one of the most common types of cancer diagnoses, and many types of prostate cancer are slow to grow and spread. However, some types are more aggressive and can quickly spread beyond the prostate gland.  

  • Although chronic liver disease is not a particularly common cause of death, a higher percentage of men die from chronic liver disease than women.

  • Men appear to live slightly more dangerously than women, with nearly twice the number of deaths from unintentional injury each year.

 

“You can’t overstate the importance of routine checkups to keep up with regular health maintenance,” stated Amanda Perry, a physician assistant and HOPE’s Director of Medical Services. “A routine check-up will catch issues with blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar.”

 

She added that it is important that men stay up to date with a regular vaccine schedule, and starting around age 45, begin regular annual screenings for prostate, colon and lung cancers. HOPE’s medical department offers comprehensive primary care, including physical examinations; preventative care such as cancer screenings, labs and testing, and vaccines; chronic care management; and more.

 

“Anything is easier to treat if it’s caught early,” she noted. “Treatment options are better and have a better chance of success, and treatment is less disruptive to life, and less expensive and invasive. That’s the whole point of preventative medicine.”

 

Men and mental health

Finally, men – especially young men ages 20-29 – are more likely than women to die by homicide or suicide. And that brings us to men and mental health.

 

Like medical issues, mental disorders affect both men and women, with some impacting one gender more than the other. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), men are more likely to be diagnosed with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) than women, and as mentioned earlier, are also more likely to die by suicide.

 

Some common symptoms of mental health disorders may include anger, irritability or aggressiveness; changes in mood, appetite or sleep patterns; restlessness; increased stress; substance and/or alcohol misuse; persistent feelings of hopelessness; obsessive or compulsive behavior; engaging in high-risk activities; behaviors disruptive to work, family or social life; preoccupation with death or dying; and suicide attempts.


But there is help for mental health disorders. HOPE Family Health accepts new patients through its robust Behavioral Health Department. Our BH providers are trained in the most up-to-date treatment methods for numerous mental health diagnoses, including ADHD, anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, PTSD, and more.

 

As the NIMH article notes, your primary health provider can also be a good place to start. This aligns with HOPE’s integrated approach, where medical and behavioral health providers frequently seek consults from one another to address whatever health needs a patient might have.

 

Do Men Avoid Getting Help?

Some articles in various health publications suggest that many men delay seeking help for either medical or behavioral health issues.

 

The Cleveland Clinic has an entire section of its website dedicated to men’s health and its “MENtion It” campaign to raise awareness of the importance of preventative health for men. A 2019 article on Healthline.com discussed a survey conducted by the Cleveland Clinic during that year’s campaign that revealed that:

  • 72 percent of respondents said they would rather be doing household chores than going to the doctor.

  • 65 percent of respondents said they avoid going to the doctor as long as possible.

  • 20 percent admitted they aren’t always honest with their doctors about their health.

  • 37 percent said they had withheld information from their doctors in the past.

 

Some reasons include fear of a bad diagnosis or outcome, the fear of being judged as weak or vulnerable, the feeling that they should be able to handle things on their own, societal stigma, and lack of ability to identify and communicate emotions. A recent article from the Association of American Medical Colleges suggests that men may mistake depression as stress, and also may not recognize when symptoms are severe enough to warrant help.

 

April Reyes, HOPE’s Director of Behavioral Health and a psychiatric nurse practitioner, often sees this reluctance in male patients.

 

“Many times men don’t seek behavioral healthcare due to having too much pride and shame,” she said. “Even though they may have suffered childhood trauma, or suffer from symptoms of ADHD or depression, they feel too ashamed to seek the care they need.”

 

She added that it often takes facing the possibility of losing a job or a cherished relationship for men to seek help. “Once they come in, they will tell me what brought them in, and then as we go through their history, they’ll gradually open up and talk about whatever has happened,” she stated. “And then we can move forward.”

 

Once a patient does make the first step and seek the care they need, the pieces fall into place. Able to provide both therapy and psychiatric nurse practitioner services, HOPE’s BH department can offer these men the full scope of mental health care.

 

But delay can be deadly. If you have any doubt at all, pick up the phone and call your healthcare provider today and make an appointment. If you don’t have a healthcare provider, HOPE would love to take care of you.

 

At HOPE, our patient-centered staff make a point to listen to your concerns. Talk to your HOPE provider today about:

  • diagnostic screenings;

  • developing an integrated care plan tailored to your health needs and goals;

  • navigating pharmaceutical needs and medication management; and

  • access to behavioral health counseling and tools to assist with mental health disorders, substance misuse, tobacco cessation, stress management, and more.

 

Whatever your healthcare needs, HOPE is here for you. But you have a role to play, too.

 

“Take ownership of your health,” said Amanda Perry. “Have regular physicals. Get preventative screenings. Build a good relationship with your primary care provider. Take your health seriously while you’re young and still have it. It’s important at every stage of life.”

 

You don’t have to be a biological father to have an impact on others. Whether you are a father, stepfather, brother, uncle, teacher, coach, minister, friend or coworker, sooner or later you will have the opportunity to teach, mentor, guide, coach, encourage, or just befriend and listen to someone who looks up to you. So take care of yourself. Someone out there needs you.

 

Visit https://www.hopefamilyhealth.org/locations to find the location and phone number of a HOPE facility near you.

 

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