Research Brief: Men’s Health

There are many physical and mental health issues that are unique to men. Some of these pronounced problems lack public awareness. Many men’s health issues are products of behavioral and cultural factors.

Due to harmful culture of silence and stigma on weakness, men’s mental health issues are particularly ignored. Depression, anxiety and many other issues are often suppressed. Traditional masculinity norms are a barrier to improving men’s mental and physical health.

Undiagnosed depression is prevalent amongst men. The ‘culture of silence’ and stigma of admitting forces men to suffer in isolation and to not seek help. Women are far more likely to seek out social or psychological resources for depression.

Since childhood, males are encouraged to engage in aggressive and risky behavior. ‘Boys will be boys’ ‘toughen up’ ‘be a man’ ‘don’t be a pussy’ are all gender specific phrases intended to demean or ignore men’s physical or mental pain experiences. Men must be socialized to express themselves and cultivate social and psychological support.
Men are disproportionally more likely to die on the job in Canada. In 2013 902 people died on the job. 844 were men and 57 were women. 152 000 men were injured and 90 000 women. Between 2-3 people die every workday in Canada, 90 percent of them male.

Men are more likely to be overweight. In Canada, 26 percent of men are obese and 23 percent of women. There were 8 million men classified as overweight or obese compared to 6 million women. A lack of fitness causes increased heart disease, stroke, diabetes and a host of physical health problems.

Men are more likely to heavily consume alcohol, tobacco and illicit drugs. Men exceeded the chronic risk guidelines for alcohol consumption by 22 percent and women 15 percent while men exceeded the acute risk guide by 17 percent and women by 10 percent. Men use illegal drugs at double the rate of women. The prevalence of smoking in Canada is 20 percent for males and 15 percent for females. Men are heavier smokers than women, smoking an average of 3 more cigarettes per day than women. Around the world, 48 percent of men smoke and only 12 percent of women smoke. Escaping from personal or mental health problems through substance abuse and being encouraged to engage in risky and self-harming behavior is a socially constructed, harmful part of male gender.

Single adult males aged 25-55 make up 47.5 percent of the chronically homeless population in Canada. This demographic group has high rates of disabilities and addiction and a myriad of social and psychological problems. Men make up 74 percent of the homeless emergency shelter population. There is a serious lack of resources for the single adult male homeless population.

Further Reading: HPV Vaccine for Boys: The Rational for a Country-Wide Policy