June is National Men’s Health Month, which is celebrated across the US with screenings, health fairs, media appearances, and other health education and outreach activities. The goal of Men’s Health Month is to raise awareness about preventable health problems and to encourage early detection and treatment of disease among men and boys. This month gives everyone the opportunity to encourage boys and men to make their health a priority and learn how they can take action daily to be stronger and healthier.
Here are some statistics about boys and men:
There are 154.5 million males in the US (CDC, 2012).
- Only 53.6% met the recommended guidelines for physical activity. In Boston, we’re doing a little bit better at 57%, but our kids are not getting enough exercise—only 29% of students were regularly physically active in 2011 (BPHC, 2013).
- 21.2% of men across the US are smokers. In Boston, that number is lower, at 16%.
- The three leading causes of death for men are heart disease, cancer, and accidents.
- Life expectancy for US men is 76.2 years, close to Boston men’s 77 years.
Unfortunately, minority boys and men tend to have poorer health outcomes. Hypertension, diabetes, and obesity are prevalent in black and Latino communities in and around Boston. Children and youth are also unhealthy: the latest Boston Public Health Commission study found that black students had the highest daily consumption of soda, and Latino students had the highest rates of persistent sadness.
Minority boys and men often face violence, poverty, and discrimination, which contribute to their poor health. Men’s Health Month is a reminder that we all have a role to play in creating a community that nurtures boys and men, celebrates their achievements, and consistently provides positive role models for boys and young men.
At Whittier, we offer programs and services geared toward addressing the health and wellness issues faced by boys and men. Our Youth Development programs encourage regular exercise and proper nutrition, provide interventions for behavioral health issues like anger, promote conflict resolution and life skills through educational workshops, and help young men hone the skills they need to do well in school and secure jobs after graduation. Our Men’s Health Program provides case management and mentoring services to men who often fall through the cracks of the health care system: ex-offenders, the homeless, veterans, new immigrants, refugees, and the underemployed. We listen to our community and work with our patients to create solutions to the health disparities they frequently face.
We are hosting our 15th annual Men’s Health Summit here at Whittier on Saturday, June 28, from 11 am to 1 pm. The theme is “Celebrating the great things our boys and men bring to our lives.” There will be free health screenings, lunch, and games for kids. Whittier will present the Men’s Health Champion Awards to a distinguished group of men who are examples of success through hard work and determination, including our new Mayor Marty Walsh, a Dorchester native. Renowned fitness expert Billy Blanks Jr. will join us again as this year’s keynote speaker. We hope to see you there!
Our boys and men bring great things to our lives, and they can be even greater when we invest in their growth, healing, and journey toward health and wellness. Please join us in celebrating and supporting the boys and men in our lives, this month and throughout their lives!