Despite huge progress in patient advocacy and awareness programs, men’s health remains a topic that receives comparatively little attention.
Every year, the month of June is dedicated to changing that. Men’s Health Month encourages dialogue about the biggest health issues men face in the modern age.
Established in 1994 by the Men’s Health Network (MHN), the event has become one of the largest annual national awareness events and plays host to a range of activities hosted by advocacy groups across the U.S.
Here, Ana Fadich, Vice President of MHN, highlights some of its own key events happening during this year’s Men’s Health Month.
Taking the Capitol
Unsurprisingly, the ongoing discussion around prostate health – particularly new guidelines concerning prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing – will be a hot topic.
This controversial issue was given new prominence following recent draft guidelines from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommending that men between 55 and 69 years old should consider the test on an individual basis.1 The guidelines conflict with a previous USPSTF ruling in 2012 recommending against PSA testing in all men.2
“Although the guidelines are an attempt to clarify PSA testing, it remains an issue that confuses a lot of men,” says Fadich.
The new guidance will be discussed during a briefing at Capitol Hill, organized by the MHN. Congressional members and their staffers are invited to the event to discuss the latest in prostate cancer research.
The briefing is in partnership with the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) and will recognize some of the researchers that have been granted PCORI awards based on their research into prostate cancer.
Alongside physical events, MHN will also be raising awareness through social media.
Every year, the Network runs its ever-popular #ShowUsYourBlue social media campaign, encouraging the public to post pictures of themselves in blue clothing online. It coincides with ‘Wear Blue Friday’, an event that this year falls on June 16 during Men’s Health Week.
This year, the Network will add to that campaign through a series of four live Twitter chats and a Facebook Live event.
Each event is intended to spur conversation in an environment many are already familiar with, says Fadich – something that will hopefully encourage men to start talking about their issues.
“Men often don’t share their feelings because of an old-fashioned view they aren’t allowed to show any weakness,” explains Fadich.
One of the consequences of keeping it all in, is that it can negatively impact mental health. In the U.S., 6 million men suffer from depression alone.3 Approximately 19 million men suffer from anxiety.3
According to Fadich, the issue of men’s mental health is growing. From the MHN’s own surveys, the topic is listed alongside prostate and cardiovascular health as a major concern.
The plus side to using Facebook Live is that men don’t necessarily have to comment as themselves, giving a sense of anonymity. “Men don’t have to get directly involved – they can tune in and use it as a resource to help them understand they’re not alone.”
In general, conducting activities like this is something advocacy groups need to do more of, says Fadich. “When men don’t speak up, they can boil over. We really need to start building a world where men feel they can talk more. Only then can we start to make a real change.”
To find out more about what the MHN has planned for Men’s Health Month and how you can get involved, visit http://www.menshealthnetwork.org/.
- U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Draft Recommendation Statement. Prostate Cancer: Screening. Accessed June 12, 2017. Available at: https://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/Page/Document/draft-recommendation-statement/prostate-cancer-screening1
- U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Final Recommendation Statement. Prostate Cancer Screening. Accessed June 12, 2017. Available at: https://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/Page/Document/RecommendationStatementFinal/prostate-cancer-screening
- Mental Health America. Infographic: Mental Health for Men. Accessed June 12, 2017. Available at: http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/infographic-mental-health-men