Every June, Americans are reminded to reach out to the father figures in their lives and thank them for all that they do. But Father’s Day is not the only day in June that is dedicated to celebrating men. The month of June is recognized as Men’s Health Month, building upon the connection to men and fathers that comes naturally from the celebration of Father’s Day. In addition, National Men’s Health Week was passed by Congress and signed into law by former President Bill Clinton in 1994, and has since been adopted by health advocates around the world. It is observed every year during the week of June that ends on Father’s Day, with this year’s dates being June 13th through the 19th. The designation of June as a special period of awareness for men is done with the intention of increasing the public’s knowledge of the status of men’s health and of the issues that impact men the most.
In the United States, males typically go through life with a much worse health status than that of their female counterparts. Men, on average, live 5 fewer years, are almost 2 times as likely to be diagnosed with cancer, and are 100% less likely to seek preventative care. They also struggle with conditions such as heart disease, obesity, and diabetes, all of which greatly impact their quality of life, productivity, and ability to care for their families. The current war situation facing this country has also highlighted the issue of mental health issues in men. While women are much more likely to be successfully diagnosed and treated, men still suffer from mental illness at high rates. These rates could likely be even higher than currently thought because so many men refuse to seek help. The ‘Big Boys Don’t Cry’ motto that is instilled into so many boys at such an early age often comes back to haunt them when they become men suffering from serious health conditions. Men’s Health Month and Men’s Health Week act as reminders to men and their families that all of these issues impact them and that they need to take better care of themselves in order to beat the odds.
Another area of interest in men’s health is that of fertility. Fertility is rarely on the top of men’s minds until they encounter problems conceiving with their partner. Infertility is commonly thought of as a women’s health issue, but approximately 40% of fertility issues in couples are due to problems on the potential father’s end. Men’s Health Month, especially because of its tie to Father’s Day, is a great time to promote awareness of the behaviors and activities that men often engage in and can impact their fertility. Promoting the importance of safety equipment in contact sports, watching the amount of alcohol that they consume, and knowing their occupation-related risks is just a small fraction of the education that could be done to promote better reproductive health in men. By bringing awareness to issues that can easily be missed on men’s radars, health advocates can give men the tools they need to improve their current health status and lay the foundation for healthier living throughout their lives.
Deanna R. Fowler, MPH
Deanna is the Director of Community Outreach for Men’s Health Network (MHN), located in Washington, D.C. MHN is a nonprofit, educational health organization dedicated to improving the health and well being of men and their families.
Deanna’s work for MHN involves the execution of various programs and services related to outreach and health promotion within minority, underserved, and faith communities. Ms. Fowler holds both a Bachelor’s degree in Biology and Master’s of Public Health degree in Maternal and Child Health Policy from the University of Alabama-Birmingham.