5 Tips for Improving Mens Health
Updated: Feb 21, 2019
Movember began as a way to increase awareness about Men’s physical and mental health issues. As I’ve been seeing the attention Movember is getting this month. I am reminded of all the positive inattention men generally get these days. I often say to clients that I see in therapy that change is often like a pendulum. It swings far and wide, initially from 2 opposite extremes until it comes to rest in the middle, finding its balance. I feel like we as a society have become that pendulum when it comes to gender equality.
Women had no voice in our society for years. We couldn't vote, few of us worked outside of the home and we fell behind in education. We have fought to find our way into equal rights and we have been successful. Now in many areas, we are outperforming men. More women now go to college than men and the fastest-growing jobs are those primarily occupied by women.
Traditionally, as men went to work and the women stayed home the roles were clear. The wife took care of things in the house and the men came home to be pampered and treated like a king. This was expected and published in many sources like Good Housekeepingand Betty Crocker. The roles were clear and the motivation to be a strong provider was there. But now that these roles are shifting, where does this leave men?
As positive attention towards Women has grown. The opposite is true for Men. Negative attention towards Men has grown over the past 40 years. The traditional behavior of boys is being seen as noisy, rowdy and hard to manage. They are seen as messy disorganized, and won’t sit still. We view it as a pathology in need of a cure. The result, men are now opting out of work, marriages, fatherhood. We need our men as positive participation as fathers, husbands, role models and leaders. Study after study has proven that when fathers are engaged and present; children grow up to do be more successful, healthy individuals.
As women have become more independent financially, our need for men has become less and less. Many women are opting to have children outside of marriage and many men are opting out of marriage and choosing to work the minimum. In Helen Smith’s book “Men on Strike” she quotes men as saying “why work so hard to watch all my money go to dependents that don’t appreciate it or me”.
We are socializing out what is innately male. What makes being a male great. The energy, competitiveness, and corporal daring of normal males are responsible for much of what is right in the world. We need to reinforce and encourage Men. Acknowledge their strengths and what it is that they contribute to society, so they will feel comfortable and want to engage. Listed below are some tips to give you some ideas on how to do this.
Tip #1 : Let Boys be Boys. Due to fear of confrontation, physical injury or self-esteem. We have limited so many activities such as dodge ball or red rover. Boys from an early age show a distinct preference for active outdoor play, with a strong predilection for games with body contact, conflict and clearly defined winners and losers. Rough-and-tumble play, such as playing tag, can often bring boys together, make them happy and it is critical to their socialization. It is rare that this type of play escalates to real aggression. According to one study only about 1% of the time. I’m not suggesting that violence is acceptable. Boys’ aggressive tendencies do need to be mitigated and channeled toward a constructive end. They need and crave discipline, respect and moral guidance. But boys also need love and tolerant understanding.
Tip #2: Speak up. Stop allowing women to make all the decisions. Women don’t want to be making all the decisions any way. If you need help on speaking out, check out Richard Driscoll’s book “You still Don’t Understand”. Mahatma Gandhi once said “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win”. Don’t be afraid to Speak up!
Tip #3: Set Boundaries. Relationships are all about emotional interactions. Yes, women have been historically better at this, but it doesn’t have to stay that way. Women have grown up being given the space and permission to express their emotions. It is expected. The opposite of that is true for so many men. How many men have grown up hearing, “be a man, stop crying”. If men have not been able to practice expressing their emotions, how could they develop the skills to learn how to experience and care for their emotions the way women have?
Many men are afraid to speak up for fear of upsetting their wife or girlfriend and go sexless. Men’s happiness matters too. Placating women, will probably have the opposite effect. So why put up with emotional abuse and go sexless. Often when men emotionally engage with their wife or girlfriend, sex improves.
Tip #4: Fight back against negative portrayals of men in the media and culture. Do this by speaking up, or withdrawing support.
Tip #5: Reclaim male space. We often see Women’s centers, but rarely a Men’s center. Try starting one, forming a men’s group, or find space in your home that is yours, just to name a few.
As the Movember movement continues to gain popularity. It is a wonderful illustration of the power that men can have, when they stand together to support something positive. My hope is that this article and Movember will serve as a reminder to engage in society and in your life. Stand up for what you believe in and let your voice be heard. If we can be accepting of all genders and their unique differences. The more we can learn to work together and the better off we will be as a society on a whole.
If this blog spoke to you, please let me know by leaving a comment or reaching out to me directly through e-mail or phone.
Some of the information included in this blog was obtained from
Brett McKay and his wife, Kate, have some good tips and ideas for men on how to cope with being a male in today’s society.
This website is run by men’s rights activist Glenn Sacks and focuses on men, fatherhood, divorce and custody issues.
This is a good relationship book to get some tips on how to communicate more effectively with your wife or significant other.