June 14 to 20 of 2021 is International Men’s Health Week, a time to spread awareness about the unique physical and mental health issues men face.¹ The hope is that, by promoting useful information and resources, men worldwide can develop healthier habits and live better lives.
This is a difficult challenge, due in part to a lack of widespread information and societal views on issues like men’s mental health.2 In recent years, self-care interventions and e-programs have been developed to educate men on how to better their physical and emotional well-being.3
What are some of the ways these self-care interventions can benefit men’s health?
- Increased knowledge of medical and educational platforms
A recent study from BMC Health Research Policy and Systems examined the role self-care interventions play in men seeking to advance their sexual and reproductive health.4 The researchers note that the internet has become a go-to source of information for many men; young men from ethnic minority groups in particular. Self-care intervention programs that inform men about the availability of telemedicine and digital platforms for sexual health afford men a greater chance to find accessible education tailored to their experience.
The investigators explain that self-interventions can allow for more discretion and privacy, something some men may prefer in regards to their sexual health. The researchers also found programs that promoted HIV self-testing to be beneficial to participants.
- Improved personal relationships
Self-care programs have the potential to benefit men’s mental and physical health, in part because of how they can improve personal relationships. For instance, when men receive education and tools regarding sexual health and reproduction, they are less likely to contract a sexually transmitted disease, according to the study.4
The researchers also found decreased rates of unintended pregnancies in heterosexual couples and greater engagement in how to approach the healthcare system when dealing with fertility difficulties. The researchers concluded that men with education from these intervention programs improved their overall personal and family relationships, which correlates with an increase in quality of life.
- More helpful, relevant health education
A 2021 study in the American Journal of Men’s Health looked at the effects of promoting “Don’t Change Much,” an e-health promotion program from the Canadian Men’s Health Foundation designed to inspire men to focus on their health.³ The researchers observed that, while men often used the internet as a source for their health-related queries, many came away with unmet needs for their conditions.
Men’s e-health programs like this have aimed to provide men a more targeted, tailored experience for their needs ranging from diet and exercise to stress management and smoking cessation. Creating this user experience may make it more likely that these men can find the specific help they are seeking instead of feeling helpless and overwhelmed.
- Greater intention to improve personal health
Men who are experiencing problems with their health may feel depressed and reticent to try something new to improve their situation. However, the researchers found that exposure to the “Don’t Change Much” program was associated with greater intended changes to health behavior among high exposure respondents. Men felt more inspiration to make changes to improve their dietary habits, physical activity, and sleep quality. These associations led the researchers to conclude that there is a need to promote and advance similar men’s e-health programs worldwide.³
1. International Men’s Health Week. Men’s Health Month. https://www.menshealthmonth.org/imhw/imhw.html. Accessed June 8, 2021.
2. Chatmon BN. Males and mental health stigma. Am J Mens Health. 2020;14(4): 1557988320949322. doi:10.1177/1557988320949322
3. Oliffe JL, Black N, Yiu J, Flannigan R, Hartrick W, Goldenberg SL. Promoting men’s health with the “Don’t Change Much” e-program. Am J Mens Health. 2021;15(2):15579883211001189. doi:10.1177/15579883211001189
4. Narasimhan M, Logie CH, Moody K, Hopkins J, Montoya O, Hardon A. The role of self-care interventions on men’s health-seeking behaviours to advance their sexual and reproductive health and rights.Health Res Policy Syst. 2021;19(1):23. doi:10.1186/s12961-020-00655-0