Indiana Black Barbershops Provide Perfect Place for Minority Men’s Health Screenings

mens healthAcross the board, men are seeking fewer services regarding their physical and mental health which leads to increased numbers of undetected, yet preventable and treatable, diseases such as prostate and colorectal cancer.

When reviewing the leading causes of death in men, you can see that some of these conditions are not only treatable, but 100% preventable. For instance, a large number of cancer diagnoses are that of the prostate which can be detected and treated if found early. Regular visits to a primary care provider along with proper eating and exercise can go a long way.

While many factors play a role in why men are not seeking out healthcare services, stigma and access issues are plaguing the communities of our minority populations in Indiana.

Statistically, black men suffer far worse health disparities than any other racial or ethnic groups in the state of Indiana.  These disparities include racial discrimination, a lack of affordable healthcare, poor health education, cultural barriers, poverty, lack of employer-carried insurance,  and social services catering to black men.

Many Indiana black men fail to participate in any form of preventable health maintenance which, as a result, contributed to high death rates from preventable diseases like heart disease, diabetes and HIV/AIDS.

As of 2010, black males in Indiana had an average life expectancy of 70.6 years compared to the national average for life expectancy of males in the U.S. at 76.3. That is a significant difference of almost 6 years!

So how do you go about trying to tackle the issues of minority health equity and access? One local group, the City of Bloomington Commission on the Status of Black Males, sought to do just that.

comission on the status of black men

On Thursday, April 20, the Commission hosted the Black Barbershop Health Initiative at Razor’s Barbershop in Bloomington. The event was part of an Indiana state-wide initiative to provide free health screenings to patrons of barbershops and beauty salons. Participants received screenings for BMI, hypertension, diabetes, cholesterol, spinal abnormalities, and HIV. There were also presentations on colorectal cancer, diet and nutrition, physical fitness, and mental health.

Why barbershops you ask? Historically, black owned barbershops represent a cultural institution that regularly attracts large numbers of black men. More than just a place to get a haircut, the black barbershop has built an environment of trust which creates an opportunity to educate about chronic diseases and how to lead healthy lifestyles.

black barbershop initiativeStatewide, the initiative was overwhelmingly successful with a total of 896 participants from 15 different cities, compared to an average of 811 over the last 4 years. Bloomington specifically had 25 people participate in the free health screenings from 9 am to noon with about 50 participants total throughout the entire day.

To quote former Congressman Bill Richardson, “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.”

With that being said, what are things that you can do to help improve the health of the men in your life?

  • Set an example with healthy habits – You can support the men in your life by having healthy habits yourself and by making healthy choices.
  • Remind men to get regular checkups – Encourage men to see a doctor or health professional for regular checkups and to learn about their family health history.
  • Know the Signs and Symptoms of a heart attack – Every 43 seconds someone in the U.S. has a heart attack. Know the signs of a heart attack, and if you think you or someone you know is having a heart attack call 911 immediately.
  • Encourage men to seek help for Depression – Depression is one of the leading causes of disease or injury worldwide for both men and women. Learn to recognize the signs and how to help the men in your life.
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