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As Father’s Day approaches, the world will observe the third Sunday of the month and celebrate living and heavenly fathers. To honor them even further, I would like for everyone to take a moment to reflect on the numerous men in your life and encourage and show support for National Men’s Health Awareness for the month of June . The purpose of Men’s Health Month is to heighten the awareness of preventable health problems and encourage early detection and treatment of disease among men and boys. This month gives health care providers, public policy makers, the media, and individuals an opportunity to encourage men and boys to seek regular medical advice and early treatment for disease and injury.
When I think about what all rests upon the shoulders of our men, I’m humbled by their level of commitment to family and work. However, often times outliers and issues that go unnoticed, undetected or even untreated, I shudder at the consequences of unmet need and wants. Also, I wonder what is our responsibility as a society. Do we give our men permission to seek or ask for help or do we rely on the old adages and mandates that “Men are the strong and silent types” or “Men should never cry” or “Men should never show weakness or vulnerability”?
Every year, more than 40 million Americans struggle with mental illness. Even more staggering than that number, African American men are as likely as anyone else to have mental illness, but they are less likely to get help. Depression and other mental illness can be deadly if left untreated. Suicide is the third leading cause of death among African Americans 15 to 24 years old. Untreated mental illness can also make African American men more vulnerable to substance abuse, homelessness, incarceration, and homicide.”
So, in order to start the conversation and give our men permission to be vulnerable and receive all the tools and resources to stay mentally healthy for whatever life has to throw at them, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., and NIMHD have launched Brother, You're on My Mind: Changing the National Dialogue Regarding Mental Health Among African American Men. The major goals of this initiative is 1) educate the community on the effects of depression and stress and 2) communicate the importance of seeking help and encourage affected individuals to get information and appropriate treatment from health care providers. NIMHD has developed Brother, You're on My Mind toolkit materials about depression and stress that are based in the science of mental health. The materials are being disseminated by Omegas through national, regional, and local chapter meetings and events. NIMHD also supports an evaluation to determine how well the initiative is working and will connect Omegas with other resources, including mental health experts who can speak at events.
This is such a wonderful initiative to show our men how much we love and support them through all ages and stages of their lives. This initiative uses a variety of activities to raise awareness of the mental health challenges associated with depression and stress that affect African American men and their families. So please, encourage the man in your life by giving the gift of “healthy mental living” so they are equipped to face the trials and tribulations that life has to offer and by doing so will afford them a healthy mind, body and spirit.
Mental Health Resources