Men’s Health Week: Five Things Black Men Should Do For Their Health
International Men’s Health Week is recognized each year in the week leading up to Father’s Day with the aim of raising awareness among men and boys about preventable health problems and encouraging early detection and treatment of diseases.
In honor of Men’s Health Week, Father’s Day and June 15, leGrio spoke to Dr Denrick Cooper, director of international emergency medicine based in New Orleans, Louisiana, who is affiliated with several area hospitals. He shares the five ways black men can improve their overall health.
1. Prioritize mental health
“The most important thing,” says Dr. Cooper, “is to make sure that you are mentally safe, especially since the start of the pandemic. We see a lot in the emergency room across the board, but a lot of people are there with issues related to mental illness. “
According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, the suicide death rate for black or African American men was four times that of African American women in 2018. And in 2019, suicide was second. cause of death in black adolescents and young adults aged 15 to 24.
Dr. Cooper says men prioritizing their health is essential, especially during times of stress.
“It’s about recognizing and then going further by becoming comfortable asking for help. Toxic masculinity affects the whole population to some extent, including men, making it less common for men to seek help outside of themselves.
Which brings us to health advice n ° 2 …
In his role, Dr. Cooper has cared for patients across the Diaspora, and one cultural difference he has observed is that American society places less emphasis on community support than many other countries.
“In a country where systemic racism keeps black people, especially black men, in a constant state of fight or flight having to face the pressures and dangers of society while striving to maintain and provide for of a family, “says Cooper,” these perpetually high levels of stress hormones negatively impact not only the mental health of black men, but their physical health as well, in the form of type 2 diabetes which kills black men at a rate twice that of their white counterparts.
Dr Cooper suggests that a key factor in addressing societal stressors is community.
“While working in Liberia and Uganda, especially in the more rural areas where the family network is essential for everyone’s survival, I have noticed that it is common for everyone in the family unit to help the family. family unit to prosper. ”
He adds, “One way for men to build this community here in the United States is to open up to building strong bonds – family bonds, but also in your community. Being known in the community, being known as a helper, interacting with your neighbors, the people you go to church with or meet at the supermarket, helps build that network, that support system, that community.
3. Use online health resources
Beyond looking to your community for help, Dr. Cooper advocates looking to the Internet.
“For anyone with access to the internet, use it to your advantage to find out what is available in terms of health coverage. “
The uninsured rate among black Americans declined after the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was implemented, but black Americans are still more likely to be uninsured than white Americans.
Dr. Cooper advises that “if you don’t know where to start, pull out your phone and start searching on Google. Check with your state’s CDC or public health board and any local organizations that are in place to put yourself in the best position to access it. “
Here are some online resources that can be used as a starting point:
Directory of Black Health Organizations
Therapy for black men
4. Find a primary care physician
“In general, people need to understand the need for a primary care physician. Period, ”urges Dr. Cooper.
These vast inequalities within the American healthcare system lead not only to barriers to access, but also to widespread mistrust due to stories of personal and systemically violent racist medical practices – i.e. J. Marion Sims Experimenting on Black Women and the Tuskegee Syphilis Study Experimenting on Black Men. So it’s understandable that some black men and women choose to only go to the hospital in an emergency.
According to Dr. Cooper, “Too often in the emergency room, in the black communities where I work, many patients arrive with these terminal illnesses, whether it is diabetes or hypertension, which were recognized too late because the patient does not have I have not seen a doctor for 15, 20 years.
He adds, “I cannot stress enough the importance of having a primary care provider you trust who can monitor these acute conditions over time, for example, ‘I notice your blood pressure is high enough. high ”. You may need to take medication or change your behavior patterns and start eating less sodium.
The primary care physician would also be able to schedule important preventive screenings such as a colonoscopy at age 50. ”
5. Stay vigilant against COVID
Last, but certainly not least, Dr. Cooper reminds us all that even as things open up again, we are still in the midst of a pandemic that has statistically affected black communities the most in the past year or so. and a half.
“I encourage people to educate themselves and to consider getting vaccinated. And if not, at least continue to use public health proven social distancing measures and mask wearing. It’s going to be a hot summer for boys and girls, and we don’t need a COVID spike to end it. “
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