Yesterday, the Namibian nation, together with the international community, celebrated our fathers. Some countries even used the days preceding Father’s Day to shed some light on issues surrounding the health and wellness of men and boys. A certain Bill Richardson once said that “recognising and preventing men’s health problems is not just a man’s issue; because of its impact on wives, mothers, daughters, and sisters, men’s health is truly a family issue.” I could not agree more! If each man in this world will take deliberate steps on a daily basis to better his own health, families and whole communities will hugely benefit from that. I am convinced that where men are healthy, households will be happy places, communities will blossom, and our Namibian boys will have the luxury of healthy role models. In an attempt to join the quest of healthier men and boys worldwide, we will continue to focus on men’s health in our column for the rest of June.
Men and women have different health needs and are affected differently by various diseases and illnesses. Men also access health services for different reasons. There are quite a lot of factors, both medical and social, that compromise and influence the physical, social, emotional and spiritual health of men and boys, both in Namibia as well as around the globe. These factors include, amongst others, ignorance of mental health issues such as depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts; unemployment, low income, the changing notions of men’s roles in society and families; relationship breakdowns, including divorces; racism; homophobia; negative attitudes towards disability and to a large extend, the notion that “men are meant to be tough”. By mentioning the latter, I do not intend to suggest that men should be weak and flimsy; to the contrary, we want our men to be our protectors who provide to our needs in a passionate, pleasant and resilient manner.
Research shows that men and boys experience significantly higher rates of addiction, violence, crime, accidents and premature death in comparison to their female counterparts. In addition, men also show significantly higher rates of death from cancer, heart disease, homicide and suicide, and the situation seems to be similar in Namibia. However, despite this seemingly gloomy picture, our male counterparts also seem to visit the doctor less frequently, and they are also far less likely to take action when they feel “off”. This is why improving men’s health and wellbeing is important. For many health professionals, it has been one struggle too many to reach men through various projects and interventions over the years, and we need to change that. But how? I believe that men’s health promotion activities should not only be about male specific pathology such as prostate cancer, but should also include the aspect of wellness.
Prevention activities should focus on deeply rooted issues such as male suicide, men’s failure to commit in relationships, men and divorce, as well as awareness on smoking cessation, responsible drinking and healthier eating habits. It is about promoting healthier lives for men; and building on achievements already made. We also need to address services that lack in responsiveness to men’s sexual health needs, such as erectile dysfunction.
Through this “low-key” awareness raising efforts, I sincerely hope that we will be able to stimulate a new level of interest in the area of men’s health and wellbeing on higher levels. I also trust that this will see an increase in the numbers of men and boys who value their health and wellbeing so that we can collectively celebrate the courage of our Namibian men and boys, as well as their longer and happier lives.
* Karin Husselmann is the Founder and CEO of B-Healthi Coaching and Training CC. She writes on public health and lifestyle issues, offer support with smoking cessation and assist corporate clients with teambuilding and the general health and wellbeing of their employees.
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2019-06-17 12:11:16 2 months ago