Men's Health Week 2020
Updated: Jun 21, 2020
Men's health week is coming to an end, and with that I wanted to shed a little light on the specific health concerns the men in our lives are facing right now.
But sometimes rather than trying to walk in someone else's shoes, we can instead give those around us the opportunity to have their unique experiences be heard. So I hope you will join me in welcoming Cam to this space!
This blog post is written by Camilo Cayazaya, Dietitian (@saucerersapprentice)
This week is about improving awareness of preventable health problems and encouraging their early detection, but you’ll see 1000s of posts about how to do that. I care more about covering the bigger picture before I cover details, so I’d like to give you a brief perspective on being a man to help the men in your life improve health-related behaviours and help-seeking behaviours.
The view of the man is rapidly shifting, most of us know it’s changing from one of dominating and powerful to one of dangerous and toxic. We are learning that the indestructible and heroic mold men have been expected to fit means that they are less likely to accept weakness and share their feelings. And that they are more likely to be angry and pent up than open and caring (though I don’t think that’s the only factor). But those are fairly new concepts that global connection has allowed us to explore. In recent discussions with friends, I’ve realised how much of our lives have been spent having to “suck it up” and move on, and how alone many of us are without being able to share our struggles openly.
We can’t even say “I love you” to a friend or even family without feeling uncomfortable and effeminate. Boys will still joke that they need to have a cup of concrete if they ever complain. If us guys have to do that, so does everyone else. A man’s role in life, we are taught, is to shut up and get the job done, complete the mission, soldier on. We use military ideas for day to day life even though the military is a job we aren’t in, and we idolise men who remain stoic in the face of difficulty and who solve their problems with power (punching or knocking people over eg. John Wick, Aquaman, rugby and footy stars, etc).
It’s no surprise, then, that seeking help from a doctor/psychologist/dietitian is unnecessary. We have just had to “get over” everything else and solve our own problems rather than seek advice from an expert. We’ll get help once it needs surgery, not before, and if anyone tries to tell us that asking for help (or being sad/caring/loving) is ok, then our brain resists because that’s not what a man does unless it’s a very specific social norm, like being a dad.
If there are men in your life who have self-destructive behaviours, it’s important that we open them up to the idea that being human means having lots to work on, including our health. Being capable of thinking about our health and asking for help sometimes doesn’t make us weak, it empowers us to do better work in the future. More than anything else, I think that once we make that our cultural norm, we’ll realise not every challenge can be overcome by just pushing on ahead in the same direction and not only our health but the health of those around us will improve.