Men's Health Month is celebrated each year in the month of June to get more people talking about their health issues. Hosted by Men's Health Network since 1992, this initiative started to create more awareness and improve the health of men.
When it comes to talking about men's health, there's more stigma attached to it than one can imagine. Mental Health and prostate cancer top the list of the issues that people are not comfortable talking about though they are among the major health issues faced by men today.
When a man says he is suffering from depression and anxiety, he is often told to "man up".
Mental health issues faced by men
According to a Lancet study, one in seven Indians were affected by mental disorders of varying severity in 2017. Studies stated that India's contribution to global suicide deaths increased from 18.7 percent in 1990 to 24.3 percent in 2016 among men.
Dr Jyoti Kapoor, Senior Psychiatrist and Founder of Manasthali, said emotions are generally supposed to be a feminine trait and since childhood, men are discouraged from showing their emotions or expressing their feelings.
"Emotions are generally supposed to be a feminine trait and since childhood, men are discouraged from showing their emotions or expressing their feelings. Anything associated with loss of control of emotions, especially sadness or fear, is seen as a weakness and men feel more embarrassed about showing them or discussing them. The social stigma associated with mental illness anyway doesn't let people talk about their issues and it's even harder for men," said Dr Kapoor.
She added that the consequences on individual, family and society are far-reaching.
"There is a higher risk for alcohol and drug abuse in people with mental health issues especially men because it is acceptable to drink alcohol to forget your pathos aka 'Devdas', than visit a psychiatrist. Substances of abuse further worsen the mental issues and can result in disinhibition, violence and suicide," she said.
Dr Kapoor further said suicide attempts among men are also more often lethal because of use of more violent means and high risk and reckless behavior results in legal and social issues which impacts not just the sick person but others around them.
"Therefore, it's imperative that we as parents, friends and teachers acknowledge the emotional aspect of men and encourage them to express themselves and talk about their problems," Dr Kapoor said.
Prostate cancer in men
Another important issue that affects men across the world is prostate cancer. Prostate is a small gland in men which produces a fluid that, together with sperm cells from the testicles and other fluids, makes semen.
Prostate cancer is highly likely to go undetected as the symptoms are often thought to be part of ageing. The common symptoms include difficulty in passing urine, burning sensation while passing urine and increased frequency of urination.
According to a 2019 report by Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the incidence rate of prostate cancer in India was 9-10/100000 population, higher compared to other countries in Asia and Africa, but lower compared to the US and Europe.
The report further stated that prostate cancer was the second leading cancer among men in cities like Pune, Kolkata, Delhi and Thiruvananthapuram.
Early detection and medical intervention has saved a lot of lives in both the cases. It's time we start talking about it and help more men to reach out for medical help as early as possible.