Prioritizing Men's Health
By Caitlund Davidson, Health Promotion and Communications Planner, Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre
Prioritizing Men's Health Men's health is a topic of importance, but talking about it isn’t often part of day-to-day conversation, and this has to change. In speaking with medical experts Dr. Samer Khalil, chief of psychiatry at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre (TBRHSC) and Dr. Walid Shahrour, a urologist at TBRHSC, three common themes appear across their practices. Here is what they have to say about critical aspects of men's health that deserve our attention and action. Break the Stigma Samer Khalil: In general, one of mental health’s most significant challenges is stigma. A well-balanced mental health is crucial to our health and well-being. Mental illnesses are prevalent and impact a large part of the population. They can affect how we feel, think, manage daily activities, and interact with others. They can affect our emotional and psychological wellbeing and have detrimental effects on our lives and the lives of people around us. Walid Shahrour: There is also a fear of complications if they seek help. Men don’t want to get screened for prostate cancer or talk to their doctor about having trouble urinating; they don’t want to know if there is an issue. Men need to recognize that it’s okay to have a problem, to advocate for themselves, and to be vulnerable. Advocate for Yourself SK: All of us can experience mental health challenges across the course of our lives. Although anxiety and mood are the most common mental health conditions, other illnesses, like substance use disorders, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder are widespread and rising. Whether you experience a new mental health problem or it is a recurrent one, it is never too late or too early to seek help. WS: I’ve found that it is often the individual’s partner who is the one pushing them to seek help. Learn about what you can do to take care of your health. Advocate for yourself and take ownership for your health. For example, the Canadian Urological Association recommends that at age 50, men should have a discussion with their family doctor about prostate screening. So when you turn 50, bring this topic forward to your doctor. Talk to Your Health Care Provider SK: There are many mental health services with highly trained professionals willing to listen, and provide support and advice without prejudice. Many interventions, like psychological or social support and medications, can improve outcomes and provide physical, emotional, and spiritual comfort to relieve your distress and deliver interventions that suit your needs and preferences. WS: Erectile dysfunction, prostate cancer, and incontinence are not sexy topics. Talking about them can make a person feel uneasy or uncomfortable, and these issues can cause relationship stress. As doctors, we can help with these issues, but you need to be comfortable talking to us and asking questions. Ultimately, staying healthy involves proactive self-care, seeking medical guidance when needed, and recognizing that overall health is a lifelong journey that deserves attention and effort. By adopting a proactive approach to their health, men can lead longer, healthier lives. Let’s embrace the idea that taking care of one’s health is an act of strength and take action to make our lifestyles healthier. For more information, visit cmha.ca or cancer.ca.