While there is plenty of noise around the International Women’s Day and for breast cancer awareness, there isn’t as much inertia for International Men’s Day or for awareness on men’s mental health.
This day, the 19th of November, is commemorated worldwide to celebrate men who are positive role models, and also to raise awareness of issues that men face. This aligns with the significance of November being ‘Movember’, which is celebrated to raise awareness on prostate cancer, testicular cancer and suicide among men.
Lung cancer and oral cancer are the leading cancers in men in India today, with their rates increasing. Prostate cancer is another leading type of cancer among men, further proving the need for a focus on issues around men’s health and addiction. This increases the importance of regular screening tests and awareness of the risk factors for these types of cancer in men.
The Stigma: Men and Mental Health
It is a myth that men do not suffer from mental health issues. In the UK, 84 men die a week due to suicide. India accounts for 24% of all suicides among men. It is worrying that the suicide rates in the country are much higher than the global averages.
Furthermore, there is a stigma associated with mental illness that prevents men from asking for medical help in dealing with issues like depression and anxiety. As a society, we expect men to ‘man up’ and not acknowledge their emotions. Such stereotypes also lead to increased anti-social behaviour among men, domestic violence and sexual crimes.
It is time we started paying attention to both men and women, and not isolate one from the other. Days such as today are reminders for us to roll up our sleeves and work on the betterment of the society we live in, creating a healthier and more secure future.
Making a difference
While this year’s theme is “Making a difference in Men and Boys”, let us start the change from us, to foster a transparency among men’s mental health, substance abuse issues and such stereotypes. On a goal to help them and the future men realise that these are just medical conditions with good treatments available.
When boys don’t learn, men won’t know. As these stigmas and stereotypes are being inflicted in them since childhood, it is important to educate your children on such issues and help them understand that these are just common, and when they face one, they can reach out to help.
If you, or someone you know is facing a condition, these signs may indicate a need for a counsellor or further healthcare assistance.
- Change in mood
- Weight fluctuations
- Sluggish performance at work
- Dullness, sadness or anhedonia (a common symptom of depression, where you lack to feel pleasure in instances where you usually enjoy)
- Physical symptoms
Today is also about honouring male role models in our lives; fathers, grandfathers, uncles, brothers, husbands, teachers, doctors, coaches, friends, the list is endless. At Onco.com, we have had the opportunity to meet several warriors who have braved cancer, fighting it head-on, to come out stronger and more determined to make a change.
While men are still facing difficulties in speaking about cancers like prostate cancer and testicular cancer, the conditions are actually treatable when detected at their early stages. If you or anyone you know face related symptoms, you can reach out to Onco.com’s team of care managers and medical experts for best in class guidance and treatment advice.