Advocacy, Public Policy

Men’s Health Takes Center Stage at 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 speakers
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Health, Masculinity, Mental Health

secret life of malesPublic Health in Action: The Secret Life of Males

It was in fifth grade when I first read a handful of James Thurber’s “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.”  My teacher, Mrs. Dalton, used Thurber as an example of descriptive writing, what she referred to as “Show, not tell” or SNT for short.  I vividly remember writing a story similar to Thurber’s Walter Mitty, where I would drift back and forth from real life to daydreaming and back again – racing a car in my daydream, only to be scolded by the grocery store manager for barreling the shopping cart into an innocent pyramid of watermelons.

Now more than two decades later, I still chuckle at Thurber’s humorous tales; humbled by his seamless transitions between fantasy and reality.  But on a deeper level, the life of Walter Mitty illustrates distinct social norms and narratives.  Walter’s fantasies transport him into a life that’s far more exciting, full of adventure and intrigue, and completely different from his normal life.  He’s the stoic commander of a helicopter flying into a snowstorm or the Air Force captain taking a few drinks of brandy before jumping behind the machine gun turret.  He becomes his own hero; a figure of admiration by those around him.  But the story beneath reveals a few underlying messages to males, in particular: take risks, be heroic and be brave.  And those messages are absorbed, accepted and passed from generation to generation.  These “rites of passage” have a profound effect on personality, lifestyle and behavior. Moreover, they may also explain the following:

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Cardio, Other Cancers

hospitals not safeHospitals May Not Be As Safe As You’d Think

Most of us know that heart disease and cancer are among the biggest killers in the United States. They’re actually numbers one and two, having caused 614,000 and 591,000 deaths, respectively, in 2015, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). But the third leading killer, which takes the lives of about 250,000 Americans every year—is one that few people have ever considered: medical errors. And in a bizarrely ironic twist, those deaths are happening at the hands of professionals who are trained to help us live a longer, healthier life.

To put this in perspective, medical errors kill more people than strokes, car accidents, guns, and drug overdoses combined. So why haven’t we heard about this before? In large part, it’s because the insurance billing system is organized around diseases, conditions, tests, procedures, and medication—all of which are assigned a number that physicians, hospitals, and labs can put on a form so they can get paid. It never occurred to the people who created billing codes to have one for mistakes.

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Mental Health

What Health Experts Are Doing To Better Diagnose And Treat Mental Health DisordersWhat Health Experts Are Doing to Better Diagnose and Treat Mental Health Disorders

Society as a whole has been late to come around to the idea that mental disorders and diseases can be diagnosed and actively treated. Mental health professionals and healthcare experts have adopted many new techniques and strategies over the years to help mental illness sufferers and their families live healthy, productive lives.

 

Educating Families

Families of mental health patients often are the most difficult people to convince that there is, in fact, a problem. Giving families educational materials and repeatedly briefing them on the patient situation can help remove the social stigma from the mental health issue diagnosis. Open lines of communication between doctors, patients and their families can alleviate many of the tensions that surround this field of medical practice.

 

Educating Support Staff

Mental health support staff help the doctor’s practice, but they are also the people with the highest level of personal contact with patients. Nursing degrees provide the support staff with the community and integrated practice experience that they need to succeed in a difficult environment. Others who are going through an online MSW program are preparing themselves to create social action and promote public health. It’s important that people in leadership positions in health have the right degrees so they can be a positive influence in their communities.

 

Better Collaboration between Doctors

Mental health was a very competitive medical field for a number of years, and doctors often bickered amongst themselves and strove for personal glory at the expense of their patients. In the past 30 years, there has been a radical shift in the attitude of the community toward itself. Doctors are much more likely to share information or collaborate with their colleagues than they were decades ago.

 

Combining Treatment Approaches

As understanding of mental health has continued to progress, doctors have realized that one treatment is not universally better-received than any other. Instead, drug treatments, physical therapy treatments, psychological treatments and therapy concepts must be combined into a treatment cocktail in order to have the best effect.

 

Absorbing New Research

Mental health is a growing field, and it changes more in ten years than others do in a hundred. It is vital for health experts to approach new research with an open mind and explore its findings with a critical eye. New cures and treatments are discovered each year, and the mental health community has a responsibility to embrace those that work and question those that do not.

 

Diagnosis and treatment of mental health disorders are two medical specialties that are difficult for any doctor, no matter how experienced. Changes in the industry and the way that health professionals approach their clients and each other could have extremely positive effects on the specialization’s growth.

Image courtesy of stockdevil at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

Others

aging and drivingKeeping Your Loved One Safe on the Road: Warning Signs and Driving Tips 

It can be difficult to see our parents age, especially as the aging process starts to limit their capabilities, dismantle lifestyles and, in particular, corrode their independence. Despite this difficult time, your responsibility is to intervene when your aging parent shows signs of behavior that could be a risk to themselves or others, particularly driving.

Physical limitations and memory issues, for example, can seriously affect the safety of your father — and other drivers — while on the road. The following steps can help you navigate this unwelcome change, whether he needs to make some adjustments while behind the wheel or give up the keys altogether.

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Cardio, Family Issues, Relationships

argument style predicts healthArguing for Your Health: How You and Your Spouse Fight Has Serious Consequences

Two particularly masculine ways of expressing anger during fights with a significant other—letting it all out or shutting down emotionally—may take a toll on your health, but in very different ways. A team of researchers at the University of California, Berkeley and Northwestern University found that men who explode with rage are more likely than not-so-explosive men to develop cardiovascular problems. Meanwhile, men who bottle up their emotions are more likely to develop musculoskeletal problems such as muscle stiffness and back pain.

So what does this mean to you?

Read the rest of this article here to find out.

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