Advocacy, Public Policy

Men’s Health Takes Center Stage at the White House

Those of us who work in men’s health are no strangers to frustration. Despite years of effort, men still die in greater numbers (and at younger ages) then women of nine of the top ten causes of death. And men’s health issues get a fraction of the public and private funding and the media attention that women’s health issues do. But there is hope—and 2016 might just be a breakout year, thanks to some very public recognition of men’s health by the White House.

In 2012, Men’s Health Network launched the Dialogue on Men’s Health series, which regularly brings together healthcare professionals, patient groups, community organizations, private corporations, and government agencies to address the unique challenges that confront men, boys, and their families. So you can imagine how delighted we were when the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) asked MHN to help organize a Dialogue on Men’s Health event at the White House January 8, 2016. The goal of the White House event—and of all of the Dialogues—was to inspire, engage, motivate, and activate the private- and public sectors to make men’s health a priority. A lofty goal, but one that was achieved with remarkable success.

tamh - WH main speakersThe White House location and the opening speakers (including Assistant to the President and Cabinet Secretary Broderick Johnson, U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, White House Director of National Drug Control Policy, Michael Botticelli, and Kenneth Braswell, the Director of National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse) left no doubt that the Administration is serious about the health of men and boys.

tamh - WH speakersTwenty eight speakers captivated the audience of more than 230 people, representing more than 100 organizations from all across the country, sharing personal stories, best practices, and recommendations. That alone was a huge win. But there’s more: each participant was asked to make a commitment to a specific action he or she will take to bring awareness to—and improve—boys’ and men’s health.

 

Although it’s still early, we’re hoping to have a follow-up Dialogue in June, which is Men’s Health Month.

Click here for more information on the White House Dialogue on Men’s Health—including photos, a complete lineup of speakers and attendees, and video of selected speakers.

And click here for more info on the complete Dialogue on Men’s Heath series.

 

 

 

Nutrition, Others, Well-being

probiotics9 Sure-Fire Benefits of Probiotics for Men

Probiotics, also called as the beneficial or good bacteria, are the microorganisms that are present in the gut. Good bacteria are mainly found in the intestines and are part of the intestinal flora. Men can get their daily dose of probiotics from fermented foods that include yogurt, sauerkraut, kefir, etc., but it would greatly benefit them if they also take a high-quality probiotic supplement.

Selected foods may feed the beneficial bacteria but might not add on to the volume of active bacteria or provide the varieties that your body and mind need to function optimally. Hence, supplements and probiotics for men ensure that they get large amounts of many different beneficial bacteria.

Why Should Men Take Probiotics Regularly

Let us look at some benefits of probiotics for men.
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Anxiety, chronic fatigue, Depression, Health, Mental Health, Others, Psychology, Relationships, Stress, Suicide

Do You Know What Mental Illness Feels Like?

CaptureWe often hear the clinical terms used by doctors and other professionals to identify the symptoms of mental illnesses…but if someone hasn’t gone through it, would they know how to recognize it?

So often, clinical terms don’t do justice to what life with a mental illness feels like. We know that two people with the same diagnosis can experience the same symptom and describe it in very different ways. Understanding the signs of a mental illness and identifying how it can feel can be confusing—and sometimes can contribute to ongoing silence or hesitation to get help.

It’s important for people to talk about how it feels to live with a mental illness. We know that mental illnesses are common and treatable, and help is available. But not everyone knows what to look for when they are going through those early stages, and many simply experience symptoms differently. We all need to speak up early— Before Stage 4—and in real, relatable terms so that people do not feel isolated and alone.

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Others

tonsil stones cause bad breathBad Breath? You May Have Tonsil Stones

In case you didn’t know, tonsils are those roundish lumps on either side of the back of your tongue. They’re actually part of your body’s lymphatic system and help you fight infection. At first glance, the tonsils look smooth, but they’re actually covered tiny pits called crypts, kind of like a golf ball.

Saliva in our mouth starts breaking down the food we eat and washes it down the throat and into the stomach for digestion. But in some lucky people, food particles, bacteria, mucus, dead cells, and other gunk collects in those crypts. Over time this matter hardens and becomes tonsil stones.

Symptoms
In most cases, tonsil stones are pretty harmless, causing some minor discomfort and, as with me, an annoying sensation of something stuck in the throat. In more severe cases, though, they can cause severe pain in the throat or ears and difficulty swallowing. And let’s not forget about the really bad breath that persists no matter how many times you brush your teeth, scrape your tongue, floss, or gargle with mouthwash.

Click here to read the rest of this story.

Nutrition, Others

hair loss solutionsHair Loss Prevention Tips For Men

Over the past decade or so, science has made amazing strides in improving our well-being. It wasn’t all that long ago, for example, that people thought that meditation was done only by fringe, religious fanatics from Asia. Today, many researchers see meditation as a miracle because of its substantial benefits, including reducing stress, depression, and anxiety. However, one area that continues to baffle scientists is hair loss.

While there has been plenty of research into hair loss solutions for men, with promising breakthroughs associated with the discovery of 5-alpha-reductase inhibitors, no one has succeed in developing a definitive solution.

Take a Realistic View

When it comes to hair loss, it’s easy to feel that your world is caving in on you. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are four ways to get a more realistic perspective on your situation.
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Depression, Stress, Suicide

construction worker - isolatedContractors Grapple with Employee Suicide Risk

The construction industry is increasingly incorporating suicide prevention measures within health and safety programs.

Though it may come as a surprise to some, the construction industry is among the top nine occupations with the highest risk for suicide, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“The construction industry tends employ a lot of what we call “double jeopardy men” — men with a number of suicide risk factors who are also the least likely to see help on their own,” said Sally Spencer-Thomas, co-founder and chief executive of the Carson J Spencer Foundation in Denver.

The foundation, in partnership with Denver construction firm RK Mechanical Inc. and the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention, in September jointly released a suicide prevention guide, “A Construction Industry Blueprint: Suicide Prevention in the Workplace.”

“Employers are learning to make suicide prevention a priority within their health and safety initiatives,” Spencer-Thomas said. “In shifting from reaction to prevention, company leaders become far more proactive in providing skill-based training, linking distressed employees to helpful resources, are creating a culture of care.”

According to the guide, construction workers are also at higher risk for suicide because they have access to and familiarity with lethal means like firearms, pills and high places, and are often less afraid and more capable of self-inflicted harm by these means.

The construction workplace also tends to have 
a culture of recklessness, bravery and/or stoicism, in which people are rewarded for being tough and thus, are often less likely to reach out and ask for help.

Construction workers also have increased exposure to physical strain or psychological trauma; a culture of substance abuse; exposure to isolation if they work on temporary out-of-town projects; and increased exposure to humiliation if they fail on their job, among other risks.

The guide recommends that construction firms should instill a culture that promotes the importance of safety; emphasizes teamwork; increases employee engagement and connectedness; values mental health; provides access to insurance and mental health care, such as those through employee assistance programs; provides informational support systems, such as buddy systems; and provides leadership and supervisor training.

“It’s the quiet ones you have to worry about slipping through the cracks,” said Cal Beyer, director of risk management at Lakeside Industries Inc. in Issaquah, Wash. “At our firm, we’ve adopted a safety 24/7 culture, teaching safety at home, work and play. Safety is a core value for us, and mental health and suicide prevention 24/7 is just as important.”

The topic of suicide used to be taboo in the industry, Beyer said.

“We used to talk about mental health awareness, but construction managers and field supervisors said that was too amorphous of a term,” he said. “They feel they can’t do anything about mental health awareness, but if we call it suicide prevention, then they ask what can they do to help.”

With the aid of the Denver foundation in conjunction with the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention, Beyer has been leading a grassroots campaign among “enlightened” contractors to create awareness, advocacy and action for mental health and suicide prevention.

He has started a LinkedIn group along with colleagues in the Construction Financial Management Association, and they are now starting to schedule construction industry outreach presentations for 2016 via seminars, workshops and webinars.

For example, the Associated General Contractors of Washington will sponsor a presentation in February, and the AGC of Oregon has scheduled a presentation for June.

Understanding Red Flags

A number of construction executives explained how they are incorporating suicide prevention measures within their health and safety programs.

“First, acknowledge and embrace the fact that your work culture has the power to make a difference in the lives of your employees,” said Heather Gallien, RK’s director of marketing and communications.

“Accept that it’s an honor to take on the responsibility of looking out for the mental health and well-being of your workers. Decide to be a leader in affecting change in an industry that’s at high risk for suicide.”
Second, contractors should adopt guidelines, such as those from the foundation, and then take time with management to gain an understanding of work culture “red flags” and create an action plan to mitigate them, Gallien said.

“Furthermore, ask your management teams to start talking about mental health issues openly and transparently,” she said. “Ask them to make it okay for employees to do the same.”

There are tactical conversations and tools a company can adopt, but the most important factor is that those at the top talk about their own issues — when appropriate, added RK’s chief operations officer Jon Kinning. Managers should also model for their employees, especially men, that work is a safe environment to bring up personal concerns and to ask for help.

David James, chief financial officer at FNF Construction Inc. in Tempe, Az., said that, while the firm has an employee assistance program, the key is to make employees aware of services available and eliminate the stigma so often associated with mental health issues.

The EAP is a good starting point, but additional direction from management is critical to provide employee education and hands on support to at-risk employees.

“One such group ‘at risk’ are those employees suffering through recovery from workers’ compensation injuries,” James said.

“FNF has had a long-standing philosophy to manage workers’ compensation cases with hands-on management, including regular communication, activities to support recovery and return-to-work programs. The caring attitude for such cases, and efforts to keep employees within the FNF family helps reduce the vulnerability of our workforce.”
Patrick Monea, vice president and chief financial officer at Granger Construction Co. in Lansing, Mich. said that suicide prevention is not an issue that his firm is currently focused on, but given the industry statistics, management now feels it is an issue “we have to strongly address.”

“Given the inherent stress of our industry and the associated culture, we feel the need to move toward education and prevention,” Monea said.

Granger’s human resources manager Matt Bozung added: “We must talk about mental health and suicide prevention openly and not ignore them as real issues. Further, recognition that specified training beyond basics, like stress management, is needed.”

This article originally appeared in Risk & Insurance, November 4, 2015. Reprinted with permission from the magazine.

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