Getting More Men to the Doctor: What's in the Way

Jun 21, 2013

Men, by and large, are not as vigilant about getting their health concerns checked as women.

Local efforts are trying to get more men to take an active part in their health care.
Credit Alex Proimos/Flickr

But that's something the city and other local efforts are trying to change, especially during June's Men's Health Month.

Milwaukee health commissioner Bevan Baker says it's about changing a much-ingrained paradigm.

"It's been seen as historically as a sign of weakness to say something hurts or to seek care, so in being strong and being committed to being strong, we've taught young boys and adolescents to not seek care, so this is something we need to overcome," he says. "It's not a sign of weakness to seek help for mental, physical or emotional care."

Earlier this year, we reported on the launch of a Milwaukee-based web portal aimed at men’s health, called Brain Brawn and Body. Founder Eric Von says he has seen the message land home, such as when one young man stopped him on the street to talk about blood pressure.

"The website has raised his awareness and has made him conscience of the fact that he does have a blood pressure and that there are numbers that are relevant to him and they should be, and he's trying to achieve those numbers," he says.

Commissioner Baker says there are obvious ways to get men to pay attention to health care as an issue - such as promoting access through the Affordable Care Act. But he says it's also a matter of getting men to take control of their individual health stats.

"I think we start where men are," Baker says. "We need to go to barber shops, we need to go to gyms, we need to go to churches - find out where they are, and let's keep this simple. Let's not overexaggerate what's at play here. We're men, we do things differently than women. Let's start and know your scores."

Seventh District Alderman Willie Wade says his own father never paid much attention to his health. But Wade is trying to set a different example for his children - and his community.

"I try to work out," he says. "I try to keep my weight at a certain level, keep myself looking healthy, so when people see me they say, 'You know he looks like he's taking care of himself,' so it's some role model stuff that you want in there, too. So I'm trying to do what I can."

The goal, Wade says, is to normalize healthy activity into men's lifestyles.

"We want that to be part of what you do: school, work, health, looking out for seniors, trying to help a person when you can, being spiritually based, we want that to be part of the way we live," he says.

There are events today and tomorrow on men’s health in Milwaukee - find out more here.