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There is a silent health crisis in America. On average, American men live sicker and die younger than American women. The purpose of Men’s Health Week is to heighten the awareness of preventable health problems and encourage early detection and treatment of disease among men and boys. The focus of this week is to give health care providers, policy makers, the media, and individuals an opportunity to encourage men and boys to seek regular medical advice and early treatment for disease and injury. It’s part of National Men’s Health Month — a month-long recognition of men’s health, with activities and events to remind men to take care of their bodies.
For college-aged men, the risks of disease, injury and death are far greater than for women of the same age. Men in the U.S., on average, die seven years younger than women and have higher death rates for all 15 leading causes of death. Below are major contributors to college mens’ health risks:
- Failure to adopt health-promoting behaviors – Gender is one of the most important determinants of health behavior. On average, men engage in far fewer health-promoting behaviors and have less healthy lifestyle patterns than women.
- Riskier behaviors – Men also are more likely to engage in high-risk sexual activity, along with dangerous activities like binge drinking and driving after drinking.
- Masculinity – According to research, traditional men’s beliefs about “being a man” that relate to diet, sleep, drug and alcohol use and sexual activity can also create greater health risks, in comparison to men with less traditional attitudes.
- Concealing vulnerability – Men add to higher health risks by hiding mental and emotional pain and illness. This fact alarmingly reveals itself when it comes to suicide rates. In 2018, men died by suicide 3.56 times more often than women.
- Health knowledge – A lack of health knowledge is a major contributor to delays in seeking care. Health knowledge is also associated with health-promoting behaviors, such as sunscreen use and self exams.
It’s important for college men to make healthier lifestyle decisions. Check out these ideas on health activities to participate in:
1. Make an appointment.
Stop making excuses and make the call to set up an appointment with your doctor. If there’s something that you’re concerned with or confused about related to your health, your doctor can help. If you don’t have a primary care physician or are away from home, set up a virtual visit through telehealth to speak with a medical provider who can answer questions and provide referrals for in-person care, if needed.
2. Get active.
Head outside to play a sport with friends, or take a long walk to listen to that podcast you downloaded. Create your own workout routine or research an app that can help get you started. Your physical health can influence your mental health. Make a positive impact on your body and mind by getting active.
3. Wear blue on “Blue Monday.”
Wearing blue is the symbol for men’s health and will show your commitment to the cause. It’s also a great conversation starter to help spread the word. Post on social media with #ShowUsYourBlue and #KnowYourManFacts.
4. Take action on COVID-19.
There’s a particular focus during this year’s Men’s Health Week to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Be sure that you’re practicing good hygiene by washing your hands and avoiding touching your face. Additionally, be proactive with your mental health. Finally, don’t ignore underlying health conditions. If there’s a symptom that you’re experiencing that is worrying, talk to a doctor. If you don’t want to go to a doctor’s office, virtual care options exist, like telehealth through TimelyCare.
The importance of gender-specific interventions cannot be overstated. College health services, including telehealth, can help address gender stereotypes that can positively impact interventions with college men. Men’s Health Week is designed to provoke thought and discussion about what needs to be done to improve the lives and health of men and boys, and we at TimelyCare are proud to participate in raising awareness.
You can find more recommendations on actions to take during Men’s Health Week from the CDC.
TimelyCare is focused on supporting the health and well-being of colleges and universities, and that includes both the physical and mental health of students. We are monitoring COVID-19 as we continue to support the health and well-being of students across the country. You can learn more about our commitment to transforming healthcare in higher education here.