Men have an issue with their health. Not a specific health concern, but rather a very harmful attitude the gender in general has taken towards their health: they simply won’t talk about it enough.
A new study looked at men’s habits of discussing their health issues with other men and the findings were troubling. A large majority of men will not only reframe from having conversations about real health concerns, they are even reluctant to visit the doctor about these issues. Surely, this comes as a surprise to very few people. It seems like one of those well-known facts that might be a common topic for stand-up comedians. And that’s part of the problem. Men’s lack of openness about their health has become a cliched joke and not dealt with as the serious matter that it is. We can no longer allow the problem to be excused as “men will be men”.
When men are unable to be open and honest about their health, it leads to these issues becoming a much bigger problem. Among boomer men (the group least likely to have such discussions) most serious health concerns are best dealt with when discovered early. This culture that has been created which robs men of the feeling that they can be honest about these problems is quite literally killing men. So how do we turn things around?
“Be a man”.
Again, this is a cultural problem. We have created a society that makes men believe that there is something weak or unmanly about being open about such things. Admitting to having health concerns is admitting a weakness and not to be tolerated in masculine circles. Sadly, this culture has even seeped its way into politics, with candidates trying to out-macho each other with tired, outdated posturing that has no value in today’s society. And yet it’s a mentality that is all too strong. In order to fix it, this toxic culture needs to be torn down and replaced with something much more understanding and rational.
Of course, this also means that we need to help mend the minds of men who have been poisoned by this negative culture. There is an embarrassment associated with your health issues, specifically with certain issues. However, these are often the issues that most often affect men. The same study discussed above shows that men tend to dance around health issues with each other, which suggests there is that desire to discuss and get it off their chests. But removing that self-conscious mindset is difficult and needs the people around these men to help fix that.
Fixing the conversation starts with allowing the conversation to occur. Though difficult, sometimes that means starting the conversation yourself. There is a follow-the-leader mentality to this when men see these things can be discussed openly and safely, they will begin to follow that lead. It is not a easy or quick process to fix this, but for all men and all the men in our lives, it’s worth working to achieve.