The Department of Health Professions is proud to launch the Men’s Health Minor Individualized Degree Program Incubator, which is the first academic men’s health program of it’s kind, anywhere! Given this time in history when men are suffering high rates of chronic disease, depression and loss of motivation, addictions, etc. there is great need to understand men and their health behaviors. Dr. Steve Rissman, who wrote the curriculum for the first Men’s Health class over 12 years ago, was not okay knowing men were living sick lives and dying much younger than necessary. Men and boys have their own unique set of challenges, and there is a accumulating body of research to define and clarify these challenges. Their morbidity and mortality not only impacts their lives, it also hurts other men, women, children, animals and perhaps even the environment itself. “Men’s health issues have never existed in a vacuum,” said Dr. Jean Bonhomme, Founder and Executive Director of the National Black Men’s Health Network and member of the Men’s Health Network Board of Directors. “Premature, unnecessary male death, illness and disability negatively impact the economy as a whole, causing lost hours from work, diminished work productivity, and the added expense of training replacement workers. Men’s illnesses impair family stability and can undermine the health of women and children directly, emotionally and economically.”
“I came into this class, well, quite frankly, angry and defensive towards men. I now have a better understanding of men. Like a burden lifted from me.” - Student in Men Across Cultures.
“I didn’t have a clue who I was as a man, and maybe I still don’t fully know. But no class has been so influential in my life as this one.” - Student in Men’s Health
“We like to say it takes a village to raise a healthy child – but our villages cannot be healthy if the men are not well or not present. This academic program does not just contribute to a better understanding of men’s health, but ultimately, to a healthier village for us all.”
Jason Vitello, MSW
Behavioral Health Coordinator
Denver Public Health
On the surface, when one looks at the key determinants of men’s health, often the conclusion is quickly drawn that men don’t take care of themselves and that “they should”. But this demonstrates a narrow understanding of men. How well do we know men and the health burden of fitting masculine norms? Might it be more important for men and boys to “be a man” and compromise health behaviors to do so? The Men’s Health Minor is about seeing men through a wider lens.
Over the years since the inception of the first men’s health class, more curriculum was created to round out a program of study which addresses the root of ill health for men and boys from many dimensions. The curriculum respects diverse cultural values, including the fluidity of gender identification, while providing support toward defining clear roles and behaviors of men in this progressive era. Consistent with the intention of MSU Denver to transform lives, students of this program will achieve competency and many will become experts in transforming the lived experience of men and boys, which ultimately contributes to better health for all.