Men’s health month: Exploring the link between physical and mental health


Updated March 30, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

The mind and body are often seen as separate entities; however, further research shows that the two are closely linked. Whether you’re eating right or taking time for self-care, it’s important to find a good balance and prioritize each aspect of your health. While everyone needs to pay attention to their well-being, Men’s Health Month is specifically aimed at men’s wellness. Below, we will be exploring the surprising link between physical and mental health. We will also be discussing steps men can take to promote positive well-being and, hopefully, live a longer and healthier life.
Men’s Health Month: What is it?
Celebrated each June, Men’s Health Month is when men are encouraged to pay attention to their bodies. This includes looking after their physical and mental health and engaging in healthy habits like exercising, eating right, and practicing self-care. Men, on average, tend to die at an earlier age than women do. Men live an average of 75.1 years, while females live around 80.5. Men also die at higher rates from the most common causes of death, such as cancer and diabetes.
Although men face unique health problems, they also experience many of the same issues as women. However, they are usually more reluctant to see a doctor when those issues arise. During June, we encourage men and young boys alike to take steps that can positively impact their lifespan and everyday well-being through leading overall healthier lives.
When Is Men’s Health Month?
Men’s Health Month takes place in June each year, falling on the same month as Father’s Day. It is a national observance meant to raise awareness of the importance of caring for one’s health, both physically and mentally, and to encourage early detection of things like heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and mental health issues like depression. This is important because many mental health issues in men are negatively stigmatized or may go unnoticed, and the three leading causes of death in men are accidents and unintentional injuries, cancer, and heart disease. Therefore, it’s incredibly important to raise awareness for men’s mental and physical health through June and beyond so that men can stay healthy and live longer.
The link between physical and mental health
For decades, physical health was often prioritized over mental health. Much of this was due to a lack of research and the stigma surrounding mental health care. Nowadays, those stigmas are fading away, and society is starting to see that mental health is just as important to address.
There is a stark link between physical and mental health, which is worth exploring. Most notably, people with chronic health conditions are more likely to develop mental health issues. Those with poor mental health are also more likely to develop medical conditions. Essentially, when one area is lacking, the other area is also negatively affected. Many physical health conditions can be prevented by maintaining positive mental health and vice versa.
Physical and mental health conditions can be passed down through genes. You may consider reviewing your family’s history to assess your risk. Hereditary physical conditions could include certain kinds of cancer, asthma, or heart disease. Genetic, mental health disorders could include ADHD, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia. Families with a history of physical or mental health conditions should notify their primary doctor.
A traumatic experience, especially during childhood, can lead to many problems over time. Traumatic experiences can affect anyone of any age at any time. They can come with various mental or physical issues such as anxiety, depression, stomach aches, or panic attacks.
Side effects from medications can also point to the connection between mental and physical health. For example, some medications like antidepressants have physical side effects like nausea, weight gain, or insomnia. Many people who are on antipsychotic medicine will have their weight, glucose, and lipid levels regularly measured. This shows just how powerful the mind-body connection can be.
Researchers are still exploring how the mind and body work together regarding health. If you have a mental or physical health condition, becoming more aware of the link between the two could help you cope and heal.
Addressing mental health
Having a healthy mind is the cornerstone of maintaining your physical health. That’s why addressing mental health in all aspects is equally important. Mental illnesses can impact the body by causing stomach aches, sleep disorders, and headaches and can even lead to more serious medical issues. For example, statistics show that worldwide over one-third of men smoke tobacco (compared to just over 6% of women), which results in a higher prevalence of lung cancer in men, among other health issues related to smoking. Because tobacco has addictive qualities and alters brain chemistry, it also impacts mental health.
In the past, doctors were more concerned with physical health markers and tended to neglect the mental health struggles and needs of their patients. Now, both tend to be considered more equally. You can promote positive well-being by paying attention to all components of your mind and body and checking in regularly with yourself on how all aspects of your health fairs. Consider speaking with a therapist to discuss your mental health concerns and talking with your doctor about any medical concerns.
Men and mental health challenges
Some mental health challenges are unique to men; at the very least, certain conditions are more prevalent in the male population. Some of the most common obstacles men face are:
· PTSD: Post-traumatic stress disorder is often caused by a traumatic or scary event. Its symptoms include flashbacks, insomnia, unwanted memories, anxiety, or depression.
· Substance use disorders: Substance use disorders can range from issues with alcohol to drugs. Those experiencing this condition might change their mood, sleep, weight, or energy levels.
· Anxiety disorders: Anxiety disorders are marked by persistent feelings of worry, nervousness, or even panic. They can include phobias and encompass conditions like OCD as well.
· Depression: Depression is characterized by a sad or depressed mood lasting more than two weeks. There are different kinds of depression, but the most common symptoms are guilt, loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities, a persistently low mood, and thoughts of suicide.
If you or a loved one are experiencing suicidal thoughts, seek help immediately. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 1-800-273-8255 and is available 24/7.
Males can experience these mental health challenges differently, even if they have the same condition. Some will need more time or support than others. If you have someone in your life who is going through something difficult, encourage them to reach out for help.
Overcoming mental health challenges
A variety of resources exist when men need somewhere to turn for their mental health. Although certain obstacles can stand in the way, such as financial situations or certain stigmas, men need to get the support they need right away. Here are some ways you can begin to overcome the challenges you’re facing:
· Seek the support of a therapist: Speaking with a mental health provider can equip you with new coping tools for moving forward. The process may take some time, but with patience, you can learn things like emotional regulation, thought control, and the importance of setting boundaries. There are online and traditional options for therapy, each of which has drawbacks and benefits depending on the person.
· Consider trying medication: Millions of people benefit from prescription drugs for mental health struggles like depression, anxiety, and OCD. Depending on your needs, you might need to use medication for weeks, months, years, or even a lifetime. To determine if medication is the right option for you, speak with a medical provider.
· Maintain your physical health: As discussed, the mind-body connection is powerful. You can promote positive mental health by taking care of your physical health. Remember to get a good night’s sleep, eat healthy meals, stay hydrated, and exercise daily. You don’t have to overwork yourself, but you want to maintain a lifestyle that will benefit your well-being.
· Lean on loved ones: People need other people. Life is filled with many sad, scary, and hard moments, and you shouldn’t have to face them alone. Try to develop a solid support group that you can reach out to whenever you’re feeling down.
Experiencing any mental illness is never easy. While there may not be a clear solution in front of you, you can take small steps to help. Over time, those little steps in the right direction can add up and make a positive difference in your life. By trying different techniques and listening to your body, you can find coping mechanisms that work best for you.
Recognizing Men’s Health Month and offering support
Men’s Health Month and National Men’s Health Week provide the perfect chance to be reminded of the importance of men’s health in your life. You can support them by holding them accountable to their goals, whether eating healthy meals with them or accompanying them to the gym. You might encourage them to seek help from a doctor or therapist if they’re going through something. All in all, you can recognize Men’s Health Month in June and beyond by being an active participant in the lives of the men around you.
If you are a man, this is a time to reflect on your habits and explore what positive changes you could make. You might consider visiting your doctor for a checkup, especially if you’ve been having symptoms that you’ve been putting off. There, you can become more educated about important health-related topics and ask questions about any health concerns you’re having. You may also consider developing a workout routine, breaking unhealthy habits, or taking more vitamins. Anything that could help you live a longer, happier life is worth pursuing.
Extra tips
Taking care of your physical and mental health is an everyday habit. Here are some tips to stay ahead of your health:
· Practice self-care
· Eat hearty, healthy meals
· Get enough rest each night
· Stay active
· Drink plenty of water
· Take up a hobby
· Spend time with your family and friends
No matter what life throws at you, maintaining good mental and physical health can better help you deal with problems as they arise. When you neglect these important areas, sometimes problems can feel worse or more overwhelming. Please pay attention to what your body tells you and reach out for help when needed.
BetterHelp Can Assist You
This Men’s Health Month, you may have a lot on your mind. Perhaps you’re going through something difficult, feeling pressure in a certain area, or don’t feel like yourself. In these situations, it can be helpful to talk with someone. If you’ve never given therapy a chance before, it could be just what you need to get your life back on track. There are traditional, face-to-face options as well as internet-based therapy you can pursue. Different people need different settings, so you’ll want to assess your needs and go from there.
If you’re finding many obstacles in your way of receiving care, you may consider online therapy. One study found compelling evidence for the effectiveness of internet-based therapy, specifically online CBT. Whether you have a specific issue you’d like to address or are experiencing symptoms of a mental health disorder, a mental health professional can help guide you.
BetterHelp is the world’s largest online therapy platform that offers services to anyone needing to express what’s on their mind. It connects you with a caring, qualified therapist that you can speak with through a phone call, chat feature, or video call. BetterHelp tends to be more affordable than other traditional therapy options and is preferred by many because of the convenience and ease it offers. Each counselor is equipped with the tools and training necessary to help you improve your life. No matter what you’re going through, don’t hesitate to reach out when you need support.**


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