This month, we’ve been thinking a lot about men’s health. Partially this is due to the fact that November has been designated “Movember” by an Australian-based nonprofit devoted to raising awareness of (and money for) the health issues that men face. Over the past decade, Movember has raised $1.6 billion to help address prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and mental health problems.
We’ve also been thinking about men’s health because we are committed to providing mental health care and eating disorder treatment for men and male-identifying people. We have seen first-hand how underrepresented the male and male-identifying population is when it comes to seeking and receiving treatment for mental-health-related issues.
We wanted to take a moment to explore a few of these health issues more closely.[Note: Galen Hope is, by design, gender-inclusive and believes in affirming care for all. We don’t mean to suggest that gender is a binary, and we recognize and honor those whose identities fall outside of a rigid male/female construct. With that in mind, however, those who were assigned male at birth face health problems that are unique-prostate and testicular cancer, for example. Furthermore, those that are raised in a culture of gender norms around what it means to be “a man”, particularly in the United States, face a range of societal norms with regard to seeking mental and physical healthcare. In an effort to account for these particularities, we will use “men” and “male” to indicate both biological males and (where applicable) transmasculine folks.]
The Men’s Health Crisis
There is a significant health crisis among men. The University of North Carolina says
The gap in health behaviors between men and women, including preventative screening and medical treatment, has contributed to a widespread, silent health crisis. Compounding the problem, gender-based health research is overwhelmingly focused on women, with fewer resources devoted to men.
The crisis is widespread, and stems from the fact that “The average man pays less attention to his health than the average woman.” UNC provides several sobering statistics to support their statement:
- Men die an average of 5 years sooner than women
- Nearly twice as many men as women die of ischemic heart disease
- ⅓ of men have high blood pressure
- Out of the top 10 causes of death, 9 of them (including heart disease, stroke, and cancer) occur more frequently in men than in women
And, of course, there are conditions that are biologically unique to men.
Prostate cancer, the Movember Foundation explains, “is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in men in the United States. Globally, more than 1.4 million men are diagnosed with prostate cancer each year.” They also tell us that 1 in 8 men in the US will be diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point in their lives. The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2022, in the US alone, there will be:
- About 268,490 new cases of prostate cancer
- About 34,500 deaths from prostate cancer
Statistically speaking, “Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in American men, behind only lung cancer. About 1 man in 41 will die of prostate cancer.”
Fortunately, prostate cancer is not necessarily a fatal disease if it is caught early. This is why The Movember Foundation (and doctors) stress regular screenings.
Among young men, testicular cancer is the most commonly diagnosed form of cancer on Earth. The Movember Foundation gives us a few statistics:
- More than 70,000 men are diagnosed with testicular cancer each year.
- At least 7,600 men die from testicular cancer each year.
- Over 575,000 men are living with and beyond testicular cancer right now.
This last statistic is an excellent demonstration of the fact that this is a survivable condition, given early detection.
Where challenges arise in these particular cancers, is in the fact that, as UNC suggests, men are less likely than women to have regular health screenings or treatment.
Men and Mental Health
Another area where men are statistically less likely than women to seek help is in the area of their mental health. That is potentially devastating, as:
- Males are 3.88x more likely to commit suicide than females in western countries.
- The rate of suicide is highest in middle-aged white men. (American Foundation for Suicide Prevention)
As Galen Hope’s Angel Pardo-Nunez explained in a recent blog, “Men struggle with their mental health. We have no doubt about that, scientifically or anecdotally. We also know that men too often suffer in silence, unwilling to ask for help. Because men are less likely to seek treatment, by the time they realize they need help their conditions are often more severe.”
Men and Eating Disorders
This resistance to seeking help is reflected, statistically, in eating disorders, as well. Once again we see that this reluctance to seek help is problematic because, as Healthline explains, “An estimated 10 million boys and men in the U.S. will experience an eating disorder in their lifetime.”
Galen Hope co-founder and President Dr. Amy Boyers says, “there can be a real rigidity around food that males struggle to let go of, and it can be tied into fitness/health a lot. Questions about dieting and exercise activities can be telling if disordered eating is a factor.”
How can we help?
As with any health crisis, there are few simple answers to how to solve this one. But we firmly believe that the process begins with awareness. If you are a man, or know someone who is, share this blog with them. Get thinking and talking about health, both physical and mental. Talk about screenings, tests, and preventative care on the physical health side, and about feelings, thoughts, fears, and habits on the mental health side. Look at your (their) relationship to food, eating, and the body.
And consider whether there is a need for professional help.
THE ROAD TO WELLNESS STARTS BY SEEKING HELP. TODAY.
Built on the principles of assertive community treatment, Galen Hope is an eating disorder and mental health treatment center offering individualized treatment options that include Intensive Outpatient (IOP), supported housing, and Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHP). As a “Community of Integrated Wellness,” we pride ourselves in fostering a thoughtful and meaningful care experience that can guide our clients on their road to recovery and increased quality of life, regardless of diagnosis. Galen Hope currently offers separate, age-specific programming for female and transfeminine adolescents ages 12-17 and adults 18 and up, as well as gender-specific programming for males and transmasculine individuals with eating disorders and primary mental health diagnoses.
To learn more, or to join our community for integrated wellness, please contact us today.
Belong. Heal. Grow.