To quote Congressman Bill Richardson (Congressional Record, H3905-H3906, May 24, 1994):
“Recognizing and preventing men’s health problems is not just a man’s issue. Because of its impact on wives, mothers, daughters, and sisters, men’s health is truly a family issue.”
The CASAT OnDemand post of January 2, 2020, Providing Male-Specific Substance Use Disorder Treatment: An Introductory Guide for Behavioral Health Providers, outlines the importance of men’s issues in substance use disorder (SUD) treatment. The article also highlights some of the causes for the gender gap, the importance of screening and assessment for SUD in men, some tips for providing male-specific treatment modalities, and a variety of links and resources.
While June is Men’s Health Month, Men’s Health Week is June 14-20, 2021, and Friday, June 18, 2021 is “Wear Blue Day.” This is an invitation for behavioral health providers and others to consider not only the issue of the health of all men, but more specifically, the issue of the health of minority men!
The Men’s Health Network states that “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. The response has been overwhelming with thousands of awareness activities in the USA and around the globe.” The site also reminds us that “The purpose of Men’s Health Week is to heighten the awareness of preventable health problems and encourage early detection and treatment of disease among men and boys.” Visitors to the site are provided with the 2021 Men’s Health Month Toolkit to learn about activities and tools for observing and supporting Men’s Health month.
How Disparities Affect Substance Use Disorder and Mental Health: Statistics on Treatment for Minority Men
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) maintains a website on Behavioral Health Equity for those interested in learning about health equity, the right to access quality health care for all populations regardless of the individual’s race, ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, or geographical location. This includes access to prevention, treatment, and recovery services for mental and substance use disorders. The Black/African American page provides the following national survey reports, agency and federal initiatives, and related behavioral health resources:
- Double Jeopardy: COVID-19 and Behavioral Health Disparities for Black and Latino Communities in the U.S. (PDF | 426 KB) This issue brief provides an overview of the key issues, data, strategies, and resources related to the COVID-19 pandemic and the behavioral health disparities experienced by Black and Latino Communities in the U.S.
- The Opioid Crisis and the Black/African American Population: An Urgent Issue This issue brief provides an overview of the contextual factors influencing opioid misuse and opioid use disorder in Black/African American communities, highlights outreach and engagement strategies for prevention, treatment, and recovery interventions, and illustrates the importance of ongoing community voice and leadership in addressing the opioid crisis.
- Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) Data Spotlight, Blacks Experiencing Fast-Rising Rates of Overdose Deaths Involving Synthetic Opioids Other Than Methadone (PDF | 530 KB) and related infographic (PDF | 864 KB) This spotlight highlights data from the 2018 National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Report specific to synthetic opioid overdose deaths among the Black/African American population.
- 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: African Americans This slide deck (available as a PPT and PDF) presents data specific to African Americans based on the graphics, tables, and figures from the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) Annual Report.
In her blog of July 16, 2019, Dr. Nora Volkow, Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) at the National Institutes of Health, outlined several studies that showed less access to treatment and higher death rates from overdoses for Blacks and other minority populations. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Minority Health (OMH) works to improve the health of racial and ethnic minority populations through the development of health policies and programs that help eliminate health disparities. In the many Men’s Health Month graphics, banners, and other images available to download, minority male populations are featured.
Men’s and minority men’s health disparities are featured in data from the following agencies and organizations:
SAMHSA Behavioral Health Resources
Visit behavioral health equity resources for select SAMHSA in-language resources.
Federal Initiatives and Resources
Ways Behavioral Health Providers Can Help Promote Health Equity
Health equity has “no lack of definitions” (Braveman, 2017). During discussions of a culture of health, Braveman and colleagues created a report “What Is Health Equity? And What Difference Does a Definition Make?” which listed criteria that would help define health equity. Many of the elements of a definition of health equity could be used in a list of things behavioral health providers might do to help create health equity, particularly for minority men. The following are paraphrased for simplicity and the full list can be read on the Health Affairs website.
- Commit to fair and just practices within the health care field—and beyond
- Take action
- Use sound concepts based on science
- Set measurable goals for increased accountability
- Respect the strengths as well as the challenges of populations of concern
- Keep to values that are widely held to maintain support
- Be clear, simple, intuitive, and compelling
The research provides evidence for the following strategies for eliminating health disparities and achieving health equity for all, including men and minority men:
- Get education and training in Cultural Competence (McGregor, et al., 2019). Cultural competence education and training increase patient satisfaction and outcomes. Additional studies are needed to establish increased effectiveness, and in the meantime, increased patent satisfaction and outcomes are encouraging.
- Take advantage of tools and resources available, especially free ones. SAMHSA’s Technology Transfer Centers (TTCs) are a perfect example. The purpose of the SAMHSA-funded Technology Transfer Centers (TTC) is to develop and strengthen the specialized behavioral healthcare and primary healthcare workforce that provides prevention, treatment, and recovery support services for substance use disorders and mental illness. The TTC program is comprised of three networks: the Addiction Technology Transfer Centers (ATTC), the Mental Health Technology Transfer Centers (MHTTC), and the Prevention Technology Transfer Centers (PTTC). The Annapolis Coalition on the Behavioral Health Workforce, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the mental health and addictions workforce, is another great free resource.
- Address disparities in access and quality; use cultural adaptation of services for consumers; develop collaborative relationships that support diverse clients; educate team members on experiences of diverse populations; and foster culturally diverse healthcare teams (McGregor, et al., 2019 ).
- Follow the National CLAS (Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate) Standards for services in health and health care at every point of contact with clients. The Think Cultural Health website of the HHS has training, education, and resources available.
- Employ technology to promote patient adherence to treatment and to monitor health outcomes (Balasubramanian, et al., 2017).
- Look for resources and training on your state DHHS and other state agency websites. In Nevada, the Nevada Office of Minority Health and Equity has many resources and available training opportunities.
- Many interesting and fun things to do to support Men’s Health Month (or any time all year long) can be found on the Men’s Health Month “Things to Do” site.
- Look for training opportunities in Nevada and online for prevention, treatment, and recovery services on the CASAT Learning website.