We all know how the saying goes: “Boys don’t cry.” Unfortunately, we are all also aware of the stigma of and neglected focus on men’s health. November is National Men’s Health Awareness Month, and with it comes various efforts to create a defense for men’s health, like Movember and #NoShaveNovember. This month specifically raises awareness and support of those facing prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and mental health issues. Now is a great time for employers to look at benefit coverages specifically in place for men, including mental health and preventive care.
Men’s Mental Health
Men often have more difficulty handling stress than women. Women typically draw on a larger support system and social network to confide in with personal struggles. Especially, in a time when virtual communications tend to outnumber face-to-face interactions, it’s critical to examine the impact of COVID-19 on mental health conditions and the benefit offerings available for those affected.
In a Talking Benefits podcast episode, Ruben Navarro, a fire captain II for the LA Fire Department, talks about the emotional and mental burdens of their (male-dominated) profession. He discusses expanding their mental health programs, including offering an employee assistance program (EAP) and on-staff psychologists. Narravo describes his initial work environment when he started in the field 38 years ago—“suck it up, go deal with it”—compared to the field’s current focus on mental health support and coping mechanism techniques that now begin on the first day of training.
Men’s Physical Health
In other fields of male-dominated work like construction, studies are showing a rapidly increasing number of work-related injuries since 2009. These particular industries can put male employees at a marginally higher risk for career-ending injuries.
Something employers can help their employees control? Preventive care. The following health checks could save a life (more here):
- Getting an annual exam by a primary care provider, including blood pressure and height/weight
- Annually screening for testicular cancer, including monthly self-exams
- Getting cholesterol testing every five years
- Screening for diabetes, thyroid disease, liver problems and anemia.
These are simple measures to ensure men’s preventive health is represented in your benefit plan.
No-Shave November and Movember
You’re probably already familiar with No-Shave November and Movember, movements created to encourage conversations about cancer awareness among men. These events encourage participants to put down their trimmers for 30 days and think about donating their monthly hair-maintenance expenses to the cause. Many cancer patients lose their hair during diagnosis and treatment, and one way to show empathy and support is to grow awareness while growing mustaches, beards and full heads of hair. For more ideas on getting your organization involved, click here.
It’s important for organizations to help combat the stigma surrounding men seeking mental and preventive health care. Employers have the power to provide inclusivity in their benefit plans and normalize men’s health conversations in the workplace. During November, evaluate your current benefit offerings specific to men’s health and consider how your organization can get more involved in Men’s Health Awareness Month.
Marketing Communications Specialist at the International Foundation
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