June is Canadian Men’s Health Month – an opportunity to encourage men to prioritize their health, including mental health, with lifestyle changes, regular health screenings, and activities that support overall wellbeing.
According to a recent McMaster Optimal Aging Portal blog post, men are less likely to focus on their health and wellness than women. This might mean putting off doctor’s appointments, hearing or vision screening, or visiting the dentist regularly. But, by making changes to diet, stopping smoking, reducing alcohol consumption, or getting more regular physical activity, men can live longer and in better health.
Mental health is also an important component of successful aging. Men are less likely to have a strong social network than women. While raising a family, and building a career, many men let go of their close friendships, but these social connections are important to wellbeing, especially in older age. Rebuilding relationships, or finding a new community of people with shared interests is key to feeling a sense of belonging, value, and purpose in older age. In times of crisis such as an illness or loss of a spouse, having a strong support group of friends is invaluable.
Men are also less likely to seek help for emotional or mental health issues. Old school wisdom taught men to keep their problems to themselves, to be strong and tough. But, with greater education and awareness, these stereotypes are being challenged and more men are getting the help they need to improve mental health, end social isolation, and participate in their community. Joining a volunteer organization, visiting a Men’s Shed to share a hobby and friendship, or signing up for an exercise class can all help support men’s health and wellbeing.
The theme of this year’s Men’s Health Month is Move for Your Mental Health. The goal is to encourage men to be more active. For more information, men’s health podcasts, video workouts, and health tips visit the Men’s Health Foundation website.