Healthy Father’s Day!

BC has a healthy population overall, we are number one for smoking rates, physical activity and are near the top for healthy eating. But in BC, women benefit more from these healthy living statistics than men in the province; we live on average 4-5 years longer than men. With Father’s Day coming up this weekend, I wanted to highlight the issue of men’s health. This anecdote from my own family might help to demonstrate the problem – I’m still working on the solution.

My husband recently developed back pain. He started twisting the wrong way while helping coach my son’s mini soccer team. Not a big movement or evident injury, but the pain and discomfort went on for three weeks. Three weeks, I may add, that outside help from medical professionals and/or physiotherapists was not sought, with my husband eternally pondering ‘why isn’t this getting better?’ On the other side of our family gender divide if I am in pain or sick (or the kids are) the doctor is called and an appointment is made.

The truth is that my husband, like many men in the province, does not seek medical help before pain, discomfort or ill health take them out of the work force.

I’m not alone in noting this reluctance for men to get involved and look after their health. The Men’s Health Initiative of BC is a participant in the BCAHL Network. They have a great website developed by men, for men to look into how to turn this pattern around. In the US this week, the American Centre for Disease Control is out promoting National Men’s Health Week.

BC’s Northern Health Authority is working on the issue at a region-wide level. Men are not seeking out medical help in order to prevent chronic disease and other injury related problems. So Northern Health has started a Men’s Health Initiative that is seeking men out instead.

The website has fun facts on man activities, man recipes and the health impacts of light versus dark beer. Now, this is not to say that women aren’t beer drinkers too, but targeted health promotion efforts for those with poorer health outcomes have the benefit of science behind them. So let’s applaud this effort at reaching the audience where they are at.

Northern Health has also gone out to men, providing very successful workplace screening events to check blood pressure, sugar and cholesterol levels, and catch health problems before they grow too big to ignore.

BCAHL’s has a webinar coming up on June 28th, “Workplace Wellness Works!” which will be profiling the Northern Health workplace events. Join us. I plan to send an invitation to my husband and see how my family’s health can benefit from this regional and provincial approach!

Samantha Hartley-Folz
Manager, Policy and Program
June 2012



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