The Silent Crisis

Men take pride in many things. Fixing stuff. Lifting heavy objects. Eating large quantities of food. Growing beards. But too often, men take pride in their ability to avoid the doctor.

Coughing up a lung? It’ll pass.

Broken leg? Walk it off.

Mysterious growth has gained sentience? You can never have too many friends.

It’s as though men think the number of doctor visits is inversely related to toughness. Avoiding the doctor doesn’t result in a merit badge of manliness. It results in increased mortality rates.

June is Men’s Health Month, a time to heighten the awareness of preventable health problems and encourage early detection and treatment of disease among men and boys. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), men are half as likely as women to see a doctor or health professional for preventive services. In 2011, CDC found that U.S. women’s life expectancy is nearly 5 years longer than men’s. Men are more likely than women to die from many of the leading causes of death, including heart disease, cancer, chronic lower respiratory disease, diabetes, and HIV.

This disparity in men’s health is often referred to as the “silent crisis” due to men’s tendency to procrastinate when it comes to their health and not seek care until it is too late. Many men won’t speak up about health issues or will outright deny symptoms with the misguided belief that if they just tough it out, then their health will get better on its own. What these men don’t realize is that avoiding the doctor is a selfish act because it’s not only their health that they’re jeopardizing, but also the happiness and well-being of their family members and loved ones who will watch them get sick.

There are several campaigns working to raise awareness of men’s health issues and encourage men to take a more active role in their health. The successful Movember campaign has not only resulted in millions of mustaches being grown, but also millions of dollars raised for prostate and testicular cancer initiatives. Men’s Health Network’s Wear Blue campaign provides a number of helpful tools and resources for those looking to increase awareness of men’s health issues.

Danya has worked on several government initiatives to improve men’s health, specifically, as it relates to HIV and STD testing and prevention. For example, Danya provides marketing support for CDC’s Testing Makes Us Stronger campaign, which is designed to promote HIV testing among black gay and bisexual men and to demonstrate that knowing one’s HIV status is important and empowering information. Danya also manages CDC’s National Prevention Information Network, which provides HIV, STD, viral hepatitis, and TB prevention information and campaign resources for men in addition to other populations.

These organizations are doing their part to encourage men to take a more active role in their health and visit their doctor for preventive care. What about you? What are some ways that you can help end the silent crisis?

By Jeff Slutz

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