Northern Health Releases MANual
Trent Ernst, Editor
Are you man enough to play dress-up with your daughter? Man enough to buy your wife what she needs from the pharmacy? Man enough to unplug the toilet…with your bare hands? Then you’re man enough to see a medical professional for your health needs.
That’s the message for Men from Northern Health. Just in time for Movember and the Month of Man, Northern Health has released a new MANual, a guide to men’s health in Northern BC.
While Movember is primarily to raise awareness around issues of prostate cancer, it is also more broadly about raising awareness about men’s health in general.
According to Men’s Health Coordinator Brandon Grant, Men have always been reluctant to go to the doctor. “There are a lot of different reasons for that,” says Grant. “Boys and young men are taught to be tough. Suck it up. Don’t complain. That sort of socialization has done a disservice to guys. On that level, guys want to be seen as the tough character, who doesn’t need a doctor. On another level, guys don’t feel necessarily comfortable talking about issues that puts them in a vulnerable state. That might be detrimental to their health.”
The Men’s Health program was created by Northern Health in response to the Chief Medical Health Officer’s November 2010 report “Where are the Men?” This report outlined a number of health challenges for men living in northern BC including higher rates of cancer, suicide, occupational deaths, and chronic disease and lower access rates of health care.
Grant says We northern men die earlier compared to our counterparts in the rest of the province. There are behavioral factors. We smoke more, we drink more, we take bigger risks on the road. We have higher rates of cancer. We have higher rates of occupational deaths, because the work we do is dangerous. Health care is all part of a larger issue. Look at motor vehicle deaths. We’re way ahead of the pack. We drive longer distances, there are animals on the road and we take bigger risks.
Grant says to address this issue Northern Health has made Men’s Health a focus area by creating a program to improve the health outcomes of men living in the North. “This commitment is closely aligned with Northern Health’s pillars of integrated health services with a population health approach outlined in their Strategic Plan,” writes Grant on his blog. “The health of men matter because men matter.”
Grant says that, according to the report, men across the North made a direct connection between their health and their ability to work. Men wanted to see a stronger emphasis on the health component of health and safety. Men also need to become a part of the conversation, which is a part of why Northern Health has a men’s health coordinator. “Guys commented how it’s funny how we can take care of our trucks and quads, but we don’t take care of our bodies,” says Grant. “So they asked us to develop a tool. We’ve worked with dieticians and doctors on this MANual, which includes everything from nutrition to tobacco cessation.”
The MANual puts a strong emphasis on healthy living, with sections on nutrition, exercise and alcohol and drug abuse. There is also a section on disease and illness, but it’s relegated to the back. “MOvember reminds us that we need to work as a region-wide community to get men to live the best quality of life they can for themselves and their family,” writes Grant.
The Manual is available online at men.northernhealth.ca; print versions will be distributed through the Health Clinic. “If you’ve got a business or service club and want copies of the MANual,” says Grant, “go to the website and get in contact with me.”