Transforming Men’s Health Attitudes
Every year, Men’s Health Week gives us the opportunity to raise awareness about preventable health problems and early detection measures for boys and men. Countless studies continue to show that health outcomes for men are substantially worse than for women. Many factors influence these outcomes, but an overarching contributing factor related to the health of men is the reality that they often avoid regular check-ups and/or ignore symptoms of illness and pain.
Are you hesitant to discuss your health issues with your care provider? As health-care providers are trained and experienced in discussing and dealing with individual health concerns in a non-judgmental manner, you needn’t be. Every day in Canada, nurses apply a holistic approach to care, spending time listening to the concerns of their patients and providing care and evidence-informed advice to maintain health and quality of life, and to prevent illness. When men are familiar with the concepts of social determinants of health and the fact that everyday choices and habits have an impact on long-term health, they are more likely to maintain good health. To live long and healthy lives, it is essential for men, like women, to make healthy eating choices, to stay active, and to be aware of signs and symptoms of illness.
On the subject of men and health, figures continue to show that less than 10 percent of the nursing workforce is made up of men. The stereotypes of nursing as a women’s profession remain strong, but as the Canadian population continues to rapidly get older, we will need to continue to reinforce the fact that the work of nursing does not have a gender. Men who enter the profession are generally excited and satisfied by the role – and people of all genders in nursing will tell you that, just like medicine and social work, there is nothing about the delivery of care that is particularly gendered. Many studies show there will be a shortage of nurses in Canada in the coming years. In the face of this forecast, it will be more important than ever to continue to promote inclusion within the profession. Nursing is an equally rewarding and satisfying career that both men and women should really consider.
In October 2016, the Canadian Nurse magazine published a commentary by Andrew Waddington, a nurse who visits schools to talk with kids about men proudly joining the nursing profession. Initiatives like this help combat stereotypes and myths such as men do not care about their health or the health of their families, friends and communities. Shifting beliefs and behaviours holds the promise to help improve the overall health of Canadians.
As we continue to strive for a healthier Canada, let’s not lose sight of men’s health as an important area of focus. Men’s Health Week is a powerful platform to spark this much-needed conversation. I want to thank the Canadian Men’s Health Foundation for their tremendous effort to raise awareness about common health issues for men, and for providing excellent tools and resources to help men stay healthy.
Chief executive officer of the Canadian Nurses Association
For more information, please contact:
Canadian Nurses Association