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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Anxiety, Family Issues, Sports, Stress

Five Ways to Build Each Other Up

We make decisions that affect our health all day long — when to go to bed, how many drinks to have, whether or not to exercise, and so on. Our choices are often influenced by the people around us. For example, if your partner wants to skip the gym, you might want to follow suit. Think about how much easier it would be to make the healthy decision if the people around you were making that choice, too. When it comes to our health, a little support can go a long way!

It’s Men’s Health Month — the perfect time to team up with a man in your life to make healthy choices together. Grab your partner, roommate, friend, or father and commit to building each other up. So often our health rises and falls with those around us, so try these five tips to help you make smarter choices together:

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Anxiety, Family

mortgage reliefDon’t Get Suckered into a Mortgage Relief Scam

mortgage relief

If you have ever been a home owner then you will understand when I say that buying your own home is one of the most gratifying feelings in the world. Not simply because you know that you are financially stable enough as an adult to purchase a house, a place with four walls and a roof; but because you know and understand that you are about to create a generation full of memories with your family. What others may have overlooked, you saw as a chance to transform those walls into a place that is only yours.
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Mental Health, Parenting, Sex

immortality legacyOn Immortality

If we had the ability to make ourselves live forever without losing our youthfulness, would we? According to Jonathan Weiner in his thought provoking book Long for this World we may be moving in that direction more than we speculated–whether we like it or not. The health and beauty industry has taken full advantage of our desire to look young with every type of topical cream, ointment, and liquid that can be applied to the skin to hide that which comes naturally.

We are constantly reminded as men that our diminished libido or ability to sustain an erection can be reversed with the right medical intervention. Our sense of worth is measured by what people say about us past our existence on this planet, even if it is all matter of perception.
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Fitness

fitness into lifestyleHealthy Habits: How to Integrate Fitness Into Your Lifestyle

It can feel like there aren’t enough hours in a day to complete all your work obligations, care for your family and also fit in some exercise. Make exercise a priority, as it will provide mental and physical benefits that will enhance other areas of your life.

There are many ways you can integrate regular physical activity into your daily routine: through the creation of a schedule, a well-designed workout, a tailored diet and helpful gear. Here are some tips that will help you make fitness an unbreakable, daily habit:

Schedule

Set yourself up for success with a carefully planned schedule. You want to make sure you aren’t scheduling yourself in unrealistic ways. For example, you shouldn’t be squeezing in workout sessions after you’ve had a long, energy-draining day. If you regularly have late nights on Friday and Saturday, make sure your Saturday and Sunday exercise time is scheduled later in the day.

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Health, Masculinity

peter baker interviewPublic Health in Action: Not a Zero-Sum Game

With the solstice behind us and the last few days of June ahead, summer is here.  And the reminders are constant: warmer weather, relaxed dress codes and recurring vacation ads on television.  Along with the official start of summer, the month marks an important awareness period for men’s health.  Events and activities centered to encourage and engage men all over the world to be more proactively engaged in their own health and well-being, Men’s Health Month has served as an annual reminder to everyone that men aren’t invincible.  Men, in fact, succumb to disease and premature death at greater rates and earlier ages than their female counterparts.

Peter Baker, director of the Global Action on Men’s Health, wasn’t aware enough to engage in such reminders.  In my interview with him below, Peter shares his personal wake-up call to health and how that catalyzed his passion into the international men’s health movement.

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Me: How did you end up doing the work that you’re currently doing?  Describe your journey to your current role as the Director of Global Action on Men’s Health.  Describe why you’re passionate about making men healthy and why others should care about the health disparities between genders.

Peter Baker: I’ve been active in men’s health for about 20 years and involved in broader men’s issues for over 30. I came to this field through my interest in feminism and an exploration of my own masculinity through men’s groups and writing, including for a small but influential anti-sexist UK men’s magazine called Achilles Heel. I was for a time also actively involved as a volunteer in projects which aimed to end men’s violence against women.

I became a freelance journalist and writer in 1990 and contributed articles about men’s issues to a wide range of well-known UK newspapers and magazines including Cosmopolitan, GQ, The Guardian and The Independent. My involvement in men’s health specifically became much more significant when I was invited to become the health editor for a men’s magazine, Maxim, in 1995. In 1996, my book (co-written with Mick Cooper) The MANual: The complete man’s guide to life was published. This was a self-help guide for men interested in reflecting on and changing their experience of work, sex, relationships and parenting as well as health. My second book, Real Health for Men (published in 1992), focused specifically on health and well-being and the practical steps men can take to add years to their life as well as life to their years.

My interest in men’s health also stemmed from personal experience of some chronic health problems when I was in my 30s. I developed often debilitating back pain and, probably as a result of drugs taken for that, a duodenal ulcer. I’d never taken much care of my health before and, in my late teens and 20s, drank too much alcohol, eaten poorly, done little exercise and steadily put on weight. Alongside the drugs and the physiotherapy for my ulcer and back, I decided to improve my diet, cut out alcohol and start exercising. When my marriage broke down in the early 1990s, I also started psychotherapy which helped me to think about my mental health and wellbeing in a new way.

My men’s health journalism brought me into contact with men’s health advocates and specifically the Men’s Health Forum, an organization that works to improve men’s health in England and Wales. When the coordinator left in 1999, I was invited to take over on a part –time, temporary basis. In 2000, I became the Forum’s first full-time Chief Executive and I stayed for another 12 years. During that time, I helped to develop the Forum into a national charity, launched Men’s Health Week in the UK in 2002, and push men’s health issues onto the agendas of national government and the health services.

I left the Men’s Health Forum in 2012 in large part so I could focus more on the men’s health issues that most interested me without the burden of organizational management, a major aspect of my job that I’d always seen as a necessary evil. As a self-employed consultant in men’s health, I’m now able to focus much more on the issues that really interest me. I’ve mainly been working with the European Men’s Health Forum on improving men’s use of primary care services, developing a UK campaign (HPV Action) that makes the case for boys to be included alongside girls in the national HPV vaccination programme, and establishing Global Action on Men’s Health (GAMH).

GAMH came about because I’d become very aware that in most countries men’s health was not being addressed, or even talked about, and agencies with a global role, such as the World Health Organisation seemed to believe that gender was about women alone. My view is that there need not be a conflict between men’s health and women’s health; they are not binary opposites or a zero sum game. In fact, they are closely intertwined: improving men’s health would be good for women’s health and vice versa.

What makes me passionate about improving men’s health is a firm belief that, when it comes to health, men are not being treated sympathetically or fairly. Too many men are dying too young or living too many years with debilitating health problems, both physical and mental. It could be so much better.

Tackling men’s health problems is not only ethically the right thing to do – because enjoying optimal health is a basic human right – it also makes good economic sense too. We know from studies in the United States and Canada that men’s health problems are very expensive for health services and for society as a whole.

Me: What inspires you on a daily basis, especially when things get hard?

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