The best gift any man can give his family is his good health – that was the message behind Men’s Health Month which ran through June.
The program, which grew out of Men’s Health Week, sought to raise awareness of issues that don’t tend to make it onto the national stage.
Ana Fadich, Vice President of Men’s Health Network, said: “Men do not always make their own health a priority. They are likely to be the provider for their family and as long as they can go to work and make money then feel they are doing a great job.”
Getting men to think about health issues that can sometimes stay hidden until it’s too late, such as cardiovascular problems and prostate cancer, was therefore a big part of the campaign.
“Sometimes, men can think that because they do exercise and they feel healthy that means they do not need to go to the doctor. But we want to make sure they are aware that just because you look and feel healthy, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you are,” said Ana.
“Men’s Health Month is about getting guys to think outside the box and giving them that little nudge to go and get their health checked out, even if they feel they are in tip-top shape.”
Showing support for Men’s Health Month
Among the activities that took place during the month was a #showusyourblue social media campaign. It saw hundreds of people taking photos of themselves wearing blue and sharing them online alongside stories of their own experiences.
An intense Congressional Workout put United States representatives through their paces, and workplace screenings were held at various sites in and around The Hill in Washington. Also on the agenda was a “Lunch and Learn” at the Library of Congress, which educated staff on issues including nutrition.
Across the country, faith-based groups and companies, including household names such as Pepsi and Harley Davison, held health fairs. These provided educational materials and raised awareness through giveaways such as t-shirts, wrist bands and blue ribbons.
The team also worked with advocacy colleagues from the UK, Canada, Germany and Ireland, among others, to host a series of Twitter chats. These focused on various aspects of men’s health, including sexual health.
Ana explained that the event had started life as Men’s Health Week in 1994, before being expanded to encompass the whole of June thanks to its growing popularity.
“It’s been great. We see a lot of participation, and each year it gets bigger and bigger,” she added. “It helps support the work we do at the Men’s Health Network because it emphasizes the need to look after either your health or that of your male loved one.”
There’s room for improvement
Despite the campaign’s popularity and 24-year history, there is still work to be done, meaning there’s no room for complacency.
“In healthcare circles, there is a lot more awareness, and more programs that focus on men’s health are available than there used to be,” Ana said.
“But the typical day-to-day guys do not have that knowledge or recognition. Sometimes, we go to events and men don’t even know what their prostate is.”
Creating greater awareness and building the knowledge base depends on partnering with organizations outside of the medical arena, she said, noting the huge attention some other cancer awareness campaigns receive.
And the central message Men’s Health Network would like to push into the public consciousness is that men can show their families they care by getting their health checked.
“The best gift you can give to your family is your good health. Do it for your kids, do it for your partner,” said Ana.
For more on the work of the Men’s Health Network, go to the group’s website.