About 55 men, along with 12 vendors and speakers on health and nutrition, filled Tarrant County College’s SSTU Dining Hall, 5301 Campus Drive, for Tarrant County Public Health’s Mancave Talks on Sept. 27.

The convention highlighted men’s health issues in hopes of sparking a conversation.

“They’re going to be talking about the state of men’s health. There’s a variety of things that are tied to health disparities, particularly geared toward talking about Alzheimer’s, lung and prostate cancer and spiritual health,” said Yvette Wingate, the Tarrant County Public Health health equity coordinator. “Some of those topics are very sensitive to men, and even young men may not think it’s important for them.”

The goal is to start the conversation.

Lead organizer Chiehiura Akpan, the minority health specialist at Tarrant County Public Health, said, “We want to put it out there so a lot of men can learn and be comfortable sharing their health information and discussing the problems that they’re going through.”

In one room, Tarrant Public Health held HIV and syphilis testing. In the main room, speakers talked about men’s health issues that concerned them. In another room, the convention offered  vaccinations.

Suicide is the second-leading cause of death for men ages 1-19 at 26.3% and 20-44 at 14.3%. 

“Men’s unwillingness to acknowledge mental health problems or suicidal thoughts, coupled with the common behavior of not accessing available services, contribute to the high suicide rate among men,” according to research done for the Man Therapy campaign

However, the research found men are less interested in accessing mental health services.

“We want to end the stigma and start that conversation really,” Akpan said. “Men’s health has consistently been on a decline throughout the ages. Men don’t talk about their health issues. They have a hard time showing up. They don’t even talk about it until the final stages.”

Tarrant County Public Health plans to create a report on men’s health in Tarrant County in collaboration with the chronic disease prevention team, Wingate said. They plan on hosting Mancave Talks annually and eventually evolving into a men’s health summit.

Typically, men talk only about prostate cancer and the importance of screening, but there are a slew of issues men should discuss, Wingate said.

“If the only thing we’re ever talking about is prostate cancer, that’s not going to motivate. So what are some things that we can do so let’s talk about it,” Wingate said. “What I think about for them is that they can walk away with one ‘aha!’ moment that says either, ‘I didn’t know that and I learned something that can help me be healthier’ and that they are willing to apply, even if it’s something small.”

Cristian ArguetaSoto is the community engagement journalist at the Fort Worth Report. Contact him by email or via Twitter. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

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Cristian ArguetaSoto

Cristian ArguetaSoto is the community engagement journalist at the Fort Worth Report. He can be reached at cristian.arguetasoto@fortworthreport.org or (817) 317-6991.