The Commercial Appeal
Health Department goes blue to raise awareness for men
Agency focused on issues affecting males in June
Employees of the Shelby County Health Department were swathed in blue Friday in recognition of the final day of Men’s Health Awareness Month and a reminder the end of the month doesn’t mean men’s health concerns are for only one month.
“We Go Red for women. I think we should show our men some love,” said Elizabeth Hart, public information officer.
Folks “Go Red” in February as part of the fight against women’s heart disease and wore blue to heighten the awareness of men’s health concerns.
Throughout June, health department employees participated in activities and held events to focus on awareness, prevention, education and family, said Dr. Ronné Adkins, a supervisor in pollution control.
“Certainly making this month bigger in terms of visibility in Shelby County is a positive thing,” said Adkins, who was part of a committee that created events and activities throughout the month.
Men often won’t admit to illness or discomfort They see themselves as tough, as providers, as the leaders of their families, Adkins said.
Preventive care through exercise and healthy eating along with better health awareness is good for families and reduces health care cost, Adkins said.
Men’s Health Week was designated by President Bill Clinton in 1994. Still, men’s health does not get the same attention as wom- en’s health issues, like the color pink now associated with breast cancer awareness, said Gregory Bethel, manager of human resources and another committee member.
“It’s not as big as Go Red and the other events throughout the year, so we tried to make sure that we presented it as something beneficial, something important and making it a fun type of type of event,” Bethel said
The events included a boot camp workout at a nearby fitness facility, and prostate health, men- tal health and heat awareness.
This was the first year the department focused on recognizing men’s health month and the plan is to make the event bigger, Hart said.
“We’re looking at doing more external and doing more out into the community next year” Hart said.
The county is conducting a healthy survey to assess community health for all of Shelby County, information that will include the perceived issues on men’s health that will help the health department tailor its message, said Jason Hodges, community health planner and another committee member.
Moving forward, it will be up to the health department to lead by example.
“This is not just for the Health Department, this is for Shelby County,” Adkins said. “We’re dedicated to being that resource for our citizens of Shelby County and we’re hoping we can improve the health of our men and women so we’re good examples for our children.”