Why Do We Care So Much About Men’s Health?
When we examine World Health Statistics, we discover that men have a shorter life expectancy than women. On average, a man’s lifespan is six years shorter than a woman’s, and this difference is seen universally around the world in every ethnicity.
We want to learn more about how to improve men’s health, especially your sexual health, because it can also have significant impacts on your physical and mental health.
We know that education is essential, so we searched for scholarships in the USA and scholarships in Canada, and we designed an “Improve Men’s Health” scholarship of our own!
The Shocking Costs of Men’s Healthcare in Canada
As a leader in men’s sexual health in this country, we’re keenly aware of how erectile dysfunction or Peyronie’s disease can lower the quality of a person’s life and translate into higher mortality rates. This fact can have severe consequences for a person’s family, the society around them, and even the economy.
If you’ve ever wondered about healthcare costs for Canadian men, we have the statistic, and it might shock you!
Direct and indirect healthcare (this includes premature mortality in men, short-term or longer-term disability cases, and disease caused by smoking, excess weight, overdrinking, and physical inactivity) costs this country billions.
We dug a bit deeper and found this study by the Canadian Men’s Health Foundation that healthcare costs for Canadian men reached $36.9 billion in 2014.
While the healthcare statistics are startling, we need to point out that incidences of male depression and other mental health issues aren’t always included in research findings. Still, mental health issues in men need addressing because the suicide rate for men is four times greater globally than it is for women.
How to Improve Men’s Health
There is good news to report! Up to 70% of men’s healthcare costs in Canada can be prevented in relatively straightforward ways: by getting active, quitting smoking, losing weight, and drinking less.
Still, we wondered. How can we help men to avoid destructive behaviours in the first place?
Our Men’s Health Challenge
It’s commonly recognized in healthcare worldwide that men can be hesitant to seek medical help. Check out this research data from the Cleveland Clinic:
- 72% of men admitted they’d choose to do household chores like cleaning toilets rather than see a doctor.
- 65% of men admit to avoiding a medical checkup.
- 20% of men admit to concealing health information from their doctor.
- 37% of men admitted that they concealed a health issue from their doctor because they were wary of a severe diagnosis if they told the truth.
After we read that, we started to investigate a possible way to improve men’s health through scholarships in the USA and Canada. Here’s what we decided to do.
Improving Men’s Health Through Scholarships in Canada
History has proven that addressing needs can lead to an overall improvement in a situation. However, when it comes to Canadian men and how to improve men’s health, we need new ideas on how to improve their health, including ways to encourage men to seek medical help.
That’s where you come in!
We’re pleased to be offering the Improve Men’s Health Scholarship. Click on the link today to find out:
- Who is eligible?
- How to apply?
- What format to choose?
- What are the selection criteria?
- What are the Scholarship deadlines?
This scholarship in Canada can change your life, and it may change the lives of Canadian men for the better.
Post Update June 14, 2022
Congratulations To the Winner of the Men’s Health Scholarship
In April 2022, OHN launched our Improve Men’s Health Scholarship. We are proud and thankful to have received over forty (40) exceptional applications in response to our question:
“How what you are currently studying can help improve Men’s Health?’’
We sincerely appreciate the efforts of all applicants who submitted fresh and inspiring ideas for improving men’s health. Because we received so many quality applications, it made our selection process quite challenging!
After careful consideration, OHN is excited to announce the recipient of our Improve Men’s Health Scholarship: Andrew Smithwick.
Andrew plans to major in computer science at the University of California San Diego (UCSD). He will receive a cheque for $2,000 (CAD) from Oakwood Health Network and our gratitude for his innovative idea.
The following are Andrew’s own words on how “Computer Science Can Improve Men’s Health”:
“During the pandemic, I heartbrokenly witnessed my younger brother battle with a severe anxiety disorder. He couldn’t sleep, focus, or keep up with schoolwork and confined himself to his room. Observing it, my long-term goals include creating relatable, “living” chatbots based on game development storytelling and therapeutic principles to help boys and men like him open up for therapy and to provide psychiatrists with new tools to help their patients.
During high school, I looked into programming, storytelling, and chatbot-related papers. One Disney Research paper I found was about the beneficial effects on autistic children holding a conversation with an interactive avatar at the “Turtle Talk With Crush” attraction in Disney’s California Adventures. In the study, it was recognized that avatars “could be useful in situations where a therapist cannot reach an individual to facilitate online interactions…”. The potential for avatars to help with mental health outreach is especially important for men. According to mentalhealth.org.uk, “Men are less likely to access psychological therapies than women: only 36% of referrals to NHS talking therapies are for men.” This disparity can come from societal pressures and expectations; talking with a self-service avatar may be an easier step for men to take, which would increase the number of men who seek help.
Furthermore, untested theories from the Disney Research paper, such as testing 1-on-1 avatar-patient interaction can act as a great starting point for future undergraduate research. It was exciting to read this paper because it reinforced my idea; however, I realized that reaching my goal would require not just the idea but deep knowledge in many different areas. I have a plan for just that.
In high school, I have not only studied programming but worked my way to become the lead programmer in my Robotics Team, lead architect or game director on several publicly distributed apps and games for my Game Development class, and also taught programming as a part-time job.
I plan to major in computer science. The school I’m attending, the University of California San Diego (UCSD), has a strong emphasis on both computer science and interdisciplinary coursework, undergraduate research and/or entrepreneurship programs, and internship opportunities that will give me the foundation for my future work. The coursework under my major will give me the technical skills; I will also take courses like psychology and creative writing from other fields to round out my chatbot idea. I plan to gain the research and entrepreneurial skills necessary to take my ideas to the next level by joining college programs like UCSD’s Summer Research Program (SRP) or Triton Research & Experiential Learning Scholars (TRELS).
A Master’s degree will be necessary to form, research, and test my progressive ideas about therapy chatbots. For my Master’s thesis project, I plan to enhance my work by working with psychologists to develop a prototype to test for best medical practices. I can also refer to game developers to improve how chatbot personalities are presented to the player.
My programming skills can also benefit men’s health in the immediate future by making apps and plug-ins that support healthy habits. For instance, I can make a plug-in to reduce negative impacts while gaming. As technology access and use become more widespread, our time sitting in front of a computer will increase too. However, there are known negative health impacts from sitting in front of a screen too long. “Standing up for better heart health” from harvard.edu says, “Every two hours a day spent sitting was associated with an increase in weight and waist size, as well as in levels of blood sugar and cholesterol.” Sources like Orlando Health support that standing up for a little bit after every 30 minutes to an hour can decrease these negative effects.
Coincidentally, many popular video game titles that men play, like League of Legends and Valorant, have games that last this long. Using game APIs, I hope to create game extensions that would remind players to stand up between games. Using some advice from Goalcast.com’s article “How to Develop Habits with Greater Ease Using the Path of Least Resistance,” I would also try to implement pop-ups that block reentering the game for a minute to “complicate and distance yourself from distractions.” In this case, the distraction would be playing a new game instead of standing up every 30 minutes to an hour.
I hope to expand my background, knowledge, and experience to make chatbot-aided therapy and video game health plugins possible by furthering my education. I can start a startup or conduct industry research to implement this idea in the real world. Or, I could use my research experience to join a research group like Disney Research to build on previous work and expand the chatbot idea to the entertainment district. Regardless, this scholarship will help ensure I can focus on taking the extracurriculars, research, and internship opportunities I need to make this a reality.”
Oakwood Health Network is thrilled with how our Men’s Health Scholarship was received.
Continue to follow us on Instagram or Facebook, and participate in OHN’s future projects because this is just the beginning!
Wang H, Dwyer-Lindgren L, Lofgren KT, Rajaratnam JK, Marcus JR, Levin-Rector A, Levitz CE, Lopez AD, Murray CJ. Age-specific and sex-specific mortality in 187 countries, 1970-2010: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010. Lancet. 2012 Dec 15;380(9859):2071-94. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(12)61719-X. PMID: 23245603. Moon DG. Changing Men’s Health: Leading the Future. World J Mens Health. 2018;36(1):1-3. doi:10.5534/wjmh.18101 Dontchangemuch.ca. 2014. The Cost of Poor Men’s Health. [online] Available at: <https://dontchangemuch.ca/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Economic-Impact-Inforgraphic-FINAL.pdf> [Accessed 1 April 2022]. Bonhomme, J., 2007. Men’s health: impact on women, children and society. The Journal of Men’s Health & Gender, [online] 4(2), pp.124-130. Available at: <https://www.researchgate.net/publication/244816985_Men%27s_health_Impact_on_women_children_and_society> [Accessed 1 April 2022]. Banks I. No man’s land: men, illness, and the NHS. BMJ. 2001;323(7320):1058-1060. doi:10.1136/bmj.323.7320.1058 Cleveland Clinic. 2019. Guys: Got a Nagging Health Concern? MENtion It!. [online] Available at: <https://health.clevelandclinic.org/mention-it-mens-health/> [Accessed 1 April 2022].
Wang H, Dwyer-Lindgren L, Lofgren KT, Rajaratnam JK, Marcus JR, Levin-Rector A, Levitz CE, Lopez AD, Murray CJ. Age-specific and sex-specific mortality in 187 countries, 1970-2010: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010. Lancet. 2012 Dec 15;380(9859):2071-94. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(12)61719-X. PMID: 23245603.
Moon DG. Changing Men’s Health: Leading the Future. World J Mens Health. 2018;36(1):1-3. doi:10.5534/wjmh.18101
Dontchangemuch.ca. 2014. The Cost of Poor Men’s Health. [online] Available at: <https://dontchangemuch.ca/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Economic-Impact-Inforgraphic-FINAL.pdf> [Accessed 1 April 2022].
Bonhomme, J., 2007. Men’s health: impact on women, children and society. The Journal of Men’s Health & Gender, [online] 4(2), pp.124-130. Available at: <https://www.researchgate.net/publication/244816985_Men%27s_health_Impact_on_women_children_and_society> [Accessed 1 April 2022].
Banks I. No man’s land: men, illness, and the NHS. BMJ. 2001;323(7320):1058-1060. doi:10.1136/bmj.323.7320.1058
Cleveland Clinic. 2019. Guys: Got a Nagging Health Concern? MENtion It!. [online] Available at: <https://health.clevelandclinic.org/mention-it-mens-health/> [Accessed 1 April 2022].