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2016 INTERNATIONAL MEN'S DAY: ADDRESSING THE PROVERBIAL "ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM": THE GLOBAL MALE MENTAL HEALTH CRISIS



              For far too long, the Male Mental Health Crisis has been allowed to become the proverbial “elephant in the room”.  The rate of suicides among Men and Boys has risen exponentially.   In over 99% of the nations where suicide deaths occur, the majority of the souls committing suicide are Men and Boys.  In the United Kingdom, for example, men are nearly four times more likely to kill themselves with 13 men dying from suicide every day.  Approximately 42,773 Americans commit suicide annually and 77% of these suicides are committed by Men.  In Trinidad and Tobago, the suicide rate is higher than the global average with Men accounting for 76% of suicides in that nation. These heart wrenching and startling statistics moved Global and Regional Coordinators for International Men’s Day to issue a “Call To Action”  by adopting the theme of “Talk About Male Suicide” for 2016 International Men’s Day.   Inaugurated in 1999 by Jerome Teelucksingh, Ph.D. in Trinidad and Tobago, International Men’s Day celebrates and honors the contributions and selfless sacrifices that Men – everyday Men – make to our families, our communities, and our world.  Observed on 19 November of each year, International Men’s Day is celebrated by 81 nations and shares a 48-hour partnership with Universal Children’s Day which is observed annually on 20 November and is endorsed by the United Nations.           

          Let’s look at how Canada, Romania, Trinidad and Tobago, Uganda, the United Kingdom and the United States observed 2016 International Men’s Day.  

CANADA  

Express Scripts Canada Co. Observes 2016 International Men’s Day           

Express Scripts Canada Co. (www.express-scripts,ca), one of the leading providers of health benefits management services in Canada headquartered in Mississauga, Canada, jumped into the worldwide celebration of  2016 International Men’s Day by acknowledging the contributions of Men to Canada’s medical landscape on its website.  The Canadian corporation’s website explored the 2016 International Men’s Day theme, “Talk About Suicide” and provided a list of Men who made “significant medical advances” in the Canadian pharmaceutical industry:    
  • 1921: Drs. Banting and Best, Collip, and Macleod discovered insulin, revolutionizing the treatment of diabetes and giving the Canadian scientific community its first Nobel Prize.
  • 1961: Dr. Harold Copp discovered calcitonin—a hormone that inhibits the release of calcium from the bones—now used to treat osteoporosis, Paget's disease of bone and rheumatoid arthritis.
  • 1967: Dr. Henri Breault developed the first childproof medication cap in Windsor Ontario, which contributed to the reduction of childhood poisonings by 90%.
  • 1971: Dr. Raymond Lemieux synthesized the sugar molecule found on the surface of type B blood cells. His research led to improved treatments for hemophilia and leukemia, and new antibiotics and anti-rejection drugs.
  • 1989: Dr. Bernard Belleau developed lamivudine—a potent antiviral medication that is an important component of HIV/AIDS treatment.
  • 2006: Drs. Hertzel Gerstein and Salim Yusuf found that rosiglitazone reduces the risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes by 60%.
  • 2007: Dr. Michel Tremblay and his research team discovered a diabetes drug could slow or even stop the growth of breast cancer tumors by blocking an enzyme found in 40% of women with the disease.
  • 2009: Dr. Russell Jones and a Canada/U.S. research team discovered that the Diabetes drug metformin may be able to make vaccines and cancer treatments more effective
ROMANIA             

On 19 November 2016, the nation of Romania officially celebrated “National Men’s Day” as a result of legislation passed and enacted by the Parliament of Romania  on 2 February 2016 declaring International Men’s Day as Romania’s “National Men’s Day”.   Romania became the first nation to officially recognize and celebrate by law International Men’s Day.  As a result, public authorities organize events celebrating International Men’s Day, public radio and television broadcast programs which are dedicated to promoting Men’s Rights on International Men’s Day. 

TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO  

University of West Indies’ St. Augustine Campus              

The History Society of the University of West Indies’ St. Augustine Campus launched the nation of Trinidad and Tobago’s celebration of 2016 International Men’s Day on Thursday, 17 November 2016 by hosting a panel discussion entitled, “A Discussion On Male Suicide And Mental Health” which mirrored the “Talk About Male Suicide” theme for International Men’s Day.  Jerome Teelucksingh, Ph.D., Founder of International Men’s Day; Mr. Wendell Grant, an executive member of the Single Fathers’ Association of Trinidad and Tobago; Dr. Jan Branford, a Clinical Psychologist; and Ms. Dana Lee Jahgoo, a postgraduate History student and representative from the History Society that hosted the event, comprised the panel’s membership.  Personal accounts of suicide were shared by Ms. Dana Lee Jahgoo and Mr. Wendell Grant from both perspectives -- attempted and witnessed. These emotional accounts captured the audience’s attention and many would later make comments and ask questions. Mr. Grant’s contribution was thought-provoking in challenging the audience to question society’s typical approach to Men’s issues and suicide.  He noted the lack of resources and services in society for persons who are facing this problem.  Mr. Grant also shared that society should strive towards equity as opposed to equality. He also highlighted the concern that Men were being broad brushed as being "dead-beat dads" and as a result were being taken for granted.  Then, Dr. Jan Branford provided insight into the medical perspective of mental health and the common signs or symptoms that are present for mental issues and persons at risk for attempting suicide such as negative self-talk, giving away of personal items, and saying goodbye out of context.  Dr. Jerome Teelucksingh brought International Men’s Day greetings and thanked supporters, and welcomed future events within the campus community. Prominent points raised during question-and-answer segment of the panel discussion included, but were not limited to, male underachievement; gender disparity with respect to services and resources; Men's lack of involvement in family life; and aspects of feminism and patriarchy.     

UGANDA  

  • Dr. Patrick Lubega, Uganda National Coordinator for International Men’s Day and Through Hands Across.org Launch 2016 International Men’s Observance with “Male Recognition For Gender Equality”   Through Hands Across.Org and its “Male Recognition For Gender Equality” model, Dr. Patrick Lubega and Ms. Rashim L. Salim will work to change societal views on male-related issues by involving families and the community of Wakiso to promote gender equality.  The model developed by Dr. Patrick and Ms. Salim is in direct alignment with the mission of international Men’s Day which is working to change the manner in which the world addresses and views the unique issues that confront Men and Boys throughout our global village. 

          “The ‘Male Recognition For Gender Equality’ model developed in conjunction with the observance of International Men’s Day has specific aims.   The creation and running of a male support center is one of these specific aims which will offer rehabilitation, counseling and life skills training while simultaneously promoting community development.  Plans to construct a library is also a component of the specific aims of this model and we will conduct public dialogues on gender equality, and run massive campaigns on gender equality.  Our ‘Youth Sustainability and Empowerment’ model which was also developed as a component of Uganda’s agenda for International Men’s Day will comprise, among other things, vocational training, reproductive health and environment programs as well as youth gender protection and youth development programs,” explained Dr. Lubega.  

  • Men's Protection Against Domestic Violence observes 2016 International Men’s Day          
Men’s Protection Against Domestic Violence, an organization headquartered in Kampala, Uganda observed 2016 International Men’s Day by forming Male Action Groups which facilitate community seminars; provide family planning, sensitization on domestic violence, and support for Men; and explore the key challenges and issues that confront Ugandan men.    

UNITED KINGDOM  

London  

In observance of 2016 International Men’s Day, under the leadership of The Honorable Philip Davies, a member of the British Parliament, the House of Commons staged a debate on Men’s Issues on 17 November 2017.  Davies called for more to be done to eradicate suicide among Men and Boys, pointed to the need to resolve educational underachievement among Men, and raised the issue of “the part-time gender gap” which sees British women being paid 6% more than their male counterpart.  During the debate, Mr. Davies pointed out that International Men’s Day seeks to promote gender equality as well as highlight discrimination against men.                                                                                                                                                          

The Right Honorable Theresa May, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, became the first Prime Minister and head of state in our global village to issue a statement recognizing International Men’s Day.    ·        

The United Kingdom’s International Men’s Day Team aligned itself with more than fifty (50) British leading charities, academics, journalists, and campaigners to form one of the largest coalitions solely dedicated to addressing Men’s Issues known as the Men And Boys Coalition (www.menandboyscoalition.org.uk). The Men And Boys Coalition brings together organizations and individuals that specialize in fields ranging from mental health, suicide prevention, education, and parenting.       


UNITED STATES  

The USA International Men's Day Team Ushers in 2016 International Men's Day with a series of National Teleconferences beginning in January 2016

EMOTIONAL FREEDOM MONTH FOR MEN AND BOYS (JANUARY 2016)

In observance of January 2016 Men And Boys Emotional Freedom Month, the USA International Men’s Day Team hosted the “Men And Boys Of Color Global Community Emotional Health” Teleconference on Sunday, 24 January 2016 which explored how racism, lack of real life options, poverty, lack of adequate and/or equal access to physical and mental health resources and support services, unemployment, and mass incarceration impact the emotional health of Men and Boys of Color.  A look at whether and, if so, how the unique key challenges faced by Men and Boys rob them of their emotional freedom was also undertaken.   Gregory Johnson, Ohio (USA) Regional Coordinator for International Men’s Day served as the Moderator for the teleconference.  Speakers at the teleconference included The Honorable Alif Allah, an Imam, humanitarian, prolific author and publisher (Pennsylvania) and R. Devin Beverly, Ph.D., forensic psychologist and Men’s Issues Thought Leader (Virginia).

NATIONAL TELECONFERENCE LAUNCHING INTERNATIONAL MEN’S HEALTH WEEK’S OBSERVANCE IN USA

The USA International Men’s Day Team conducted a National Teleconference on Men’s Health on Sunday, 12 June  2016 which launched the USA’s observance of International Men’s Health Week.  Mr. Scott Luxor, the New York (USA) Regional Coordinator served as the Moderator for the hour-long National Teleconference which featured Dr. Raymond Hutchins in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Dr. Steven M. Downs, in Indianapolis, Indiana which explored a series of physical and mental health issues which serve as key challenges for Men and Boys.

NATIONAL TELECONFERENCES ON RACE, VIOLENCE, AND COMMUNITY-POLICE RELATIONS

In response to rising tensions between communities and police across the United States, precipitated by a series of violent confrontations between police and civilians which resulted in civilians being killed and a series of fatal shootings of police officers by civilians, the USA International Men’s Day Team conducted two (2) National Teleconferences On Race, Violence, and Community-Police Relations.  Gregory Johnson, the Ohio (USA) Regional Coordinator for International Men’s Day served as the moderator of the first one-hour National Teleconference held on Sunday, 17 July 2017 with featured speakers Scott Luxor, the publisher of GUYalogue, a popular Men’s Issues journal and the New York (USA) Regional Coordinator for International Men’s Day; The Honorable Alif Allah, an Imam, author, humanitarian, prolific author, and publisher; and Tracey L. Fisher, an author, lecturer, and Restorative Justice Thought Leader who offered solutions-based responses to the following questions:  

Would the improvement of relations between the police and the African American community help to ensure that there are no more Alton Sterlings and Philando Castiles? ·        

What role does race play in the decision making of police officers?   ·        

How do we build trust between the police and the African American community? 

Should “ethnic sensitivity” be a mandatory component of all training programs for police in the United States?

The second and final National Teleconference on Race, Violence and Community-Police Relations was held on Sunday, 7 August 2017 at 3:00 P.M. and hosted by the USA International Men’s Day Team for the purpose of engaging law enforcement officers and featured speakers Tracey L. Fisher, an author, lecturer, and Restorative Justice Thought Leader; Gregory Johnson, Ohio (USA) Regional Coordinator – International Men’s Day; Scott Luxor, the publisher of GUYalogue, a popular Men’s Issues journal, and New York (USA) Regional Coordinator – International Men’s Day, and Darlene Monsour, former Texas (USA) Regional Coordinator – International Men’s Day  in a solutions-based dialogue on steps to be taken to improve community-police relations.  The goal of the second National Teleconference also involved providing law enforcement officials with a forum to express on a “straight no-chaser” basis community policing from their perspective.  However, law enforcement officials who were invited from Texas; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Baltimore, Maryland; and Chicago, Illinois declined to respond to the USA International Men’s Day Team’s invitation.  The National Teleconference was moderated by Diane A. Sears, the USA Coordinator for International Men’s Day.

New York  

Raybrook, New York                               

On Saturday, 19 November 2016 – incarcerated youths at New York’s Adirondack Correctional Facility joined individuals, organizations, and institutions in 81 nations in observing 2016 International Men’s Day.  Under the leadership of Mr. Carry Greaves, a mentor, poet, Senior Contributing Editor to IN SEARCH OF FATHERHOOD®, Empowerment Coordinator for International Men’s Day, and Chair of the International Men’s Day Healing and Repatriation Initiative, a group of youths incarcerated at the Adirondack Correctional Facility utilized 2016 International Men’s Day to speak out about, among other things, why many youths in our schools and in our communities are so angry.              

Mr. Greaves who serves as the Chair of the USA International Men’s Day Healing and Repatriation Initiative, which was established in 2012 to bring Incarcerated Men and Youths into the International Men’s Day equation, launched the observance by asking each of the incarcerated youths to give one or two positive words.   The group offered the following:   ·        

     Peace and Love ·        
     Family Unity ·        
     Freedom ·        
     Brotherhood ·        
     Making it home to my family ·        
     No violence

After explaining the importance of International Men’s Day and why it should be celebrated each year, talked to the group about making a pledge to work to positively transform themselves and their communities.  He went on to say:  “Once we make a pledge, we cannot break it.”               When the youths were asked: “Why does it seem that so many youths today are so angry?’, they utilized the opportunity to speak out against Fatherlessness, lack of parenting, and being taught not to express their emotions.              

Mr. Greaves gives the following account:              

          “One individual blamed his Father.  He told us that his Father was never in his life and he is holding a grudge against him for that.  I explained to him that in order for him to grow spiritually he will have to let go because he has a three-month old and he will not be able to properly raise him if he continues to carry anger inside of himself.  A number of other individuals blamed their family for not being parents.  These individuals believed that their parents acted more like their friends and not as their parents.  Other individuals in the group blamed rap music for promoting a fake tough image.  They also expressed their belief that many young men were taught to not express their feelings so they keep their feelings ‘bottled up’ until they explode.  We spoke about the need for a strong family structure, the need for the violence to stop in our communities, and the need to have community forums about police killings.  Out of the group of young men, only one had a GED.  However, the other young men made a pledge to go to school and get their GED.  I told them that I will be on them if I catch them slipping.   What I see is that these individuals never had the proper guidance or someone they can talk to.  One of the young men told me that I was like the Father that he never had.   These young men are so angry and in pain.  I could see it in their eyes. At the end of the discussion, I asked each individual to read an article published in the September 2016 issue of IN SEARCH OF FATHERHOOD® -- ‘Letter To A Fatherless Daughter’.  I told them that whenever they came across the word ‘her’ and ‘daughter’ in the essay, they could replace these words with ‘him’ or ‘son’.  The young men loved the essay.  I believe the young men enjoyed the discussion.  Since that day, they come to me and want to sit down and have more discussions like the discussion they participated in on International Men’s Day.   I gave each of them a hug, words of encouragement, and told them to always be prepared because I have a tendency to show up when they will least expect it’.”      

Pennsylvania  

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania  

USA International Men’s Day Team Adopts Song As Anthem for 2016 International Men’s Day  
Men’s Mental Health Advocate, music producer, arranger, songwriter, and singer Mr. Greg Best of Rochester, New York was introduced to the United States International Men’s Day Team by Mr. Rick Belden, an internationally acclaimed Men’s Issues Thought Leader.  Upon discovering and listening to a poignant and moving ballad, “Letting Go” (www.gregbestmusic.com), which graphically explored male depression and suicide, the United States International Men’s Day Team adopted the ballad in observance of the 2016 International Men’s Day theme, “Talk About Male Suicide”.      

Third Annual International Day Of Prayer For Men And Boys  

On Sunday, 6 November 2016, the USA International Men’s Day Team launched America’s celebration of 2016 International Men’s Day with the observance of the Third Annual International Day of Prayer for Men and Boys.  The theme for the observance which took the form of a national teleconference was “Voices Of Our Fathers” and featured Rick Belden, author, poet. and Men’s Issues Thought Leader (Austin, Texas); Greg Best (Rochester, New York); Scott Luxor, New York (USA) Regional Coordinator – International Men’s Day; Jeffrey Jones, Community Manager – Black Male Engagement (BMe) (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania); Gregory Johnson, Chairman and Founder, Global Parenting Network and Ohio (USA) Regional Coordinator – International Men’s Day; and, Diane A. Sears, United States Coordinator for International Men’s Day (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) who served as the moderator for the National Teleconference.  

The "Voices Of Our Fathers" Third Annual International Day of Prayer for Men and Boys Teleconference was convened with the reading of a soulful prayer entitled, “Prayer For Those Who Need It” which was penned by International Men’s Day Founder Jerome Teelucksingh, Ph.D.  and punctuated with a moving poem, "My Father's Body" which was penned and read by Masculine Psychology and Men's Issues Thought Leader, artist, poet, and author Mr. Rick Belden.  Mr. Belden’s reading of his poem, "My Father's Body" was in response to a question concerning Fathers and Father Figures posed to the panelists which asked:  "What is the voice of your Father or Father Figure telling you?  In what ways does the Voice of your Father or Father Figure continue to guide you? Comfort you?  Inspire you?"  

Mr. Gregory Johnson pointed out that Fathers are leaders and reminded us that leaders are really servants and that to lead means to serve.   He further explained that parenting and raising children is the most sacred duty that one can have and that the relationship between parents and children is sacred as well.  He went on to say that parents are at war with the outside world which offers distractions that can turn our children's attention away from us.  Johnson sees Fathers being marginalized by the segments of society that are attempting to gain and/or are succeeding in gaining the attention of our children.    

Mr. Jeffrey C. Jones introduced the concept of a "Domestic Father" and a "Community Father".  He explained that the "Domestic Father' is the Father who is present in the lives of his child/children while the "Community Father" is a man who is not biologically connected to a child, but acts as a Father Figure and mentors and nurtures a child whose biological Father is not present in that child's life.   The "Community Father" concept reintroduces the "village" concept of parenting.  

The focus of the panel shifted to explore whether a connection existed between the alarmingly rising number of deaths by suicide of Men and Boys, their rising anger, depression, feeling of hopelessness, and their being bombarded by social media, mainstream media, television situation comedies and commercials, films, and music videos with mixed signals about masculinity, their roles and responsibilities as males, and the rules of engagement for courtship and marriage.   It was noted that Men and Boys in the Millennium are navigating a world that is vastly different from the world their Fathers, Grandfathers, and Great Grandfathers navigated.  

When asked if the launching and implementation of a “Global Boys Rising” Movement was in order to provide boys and adolescent young males with a vehicle to resocialize boys so that they understand that they can be strong and still freely express their emotions without having their masculinity called into question, Mr. Scott Luxor suggested that the vehicle should also include girls and young adolescent females where both genders are resocialized.  Mr.  Luxor further suggested that the vehicle should be renamed “The Global Boys and Girls Rising Together” Movement.

The discussion moved to the key challenge of self-esteem that confront boys and adolescent male youths and the manner in which they address it.  

Mr. Gregory Johnson remarked that social media is being used by our children as a tool to boost self-esteem.  He explained that children are looking to social media to boost their self-esteem.  He used FACEBOOK as an example, stating that children measure their popularity and their self-worth by the number of "friends" they accumulate on FACEBOOK.    

Mr. Greg Best who is a 27 year old Men’s Mental Health Advocate, songwriter, music producer, arranger, and singer provided the panel with a "straight-no-chaser" look into the world of Men in the Millennium who are in their 20s.  He pointed out that he and his counterparts were raised by parents who were from a generation categorized as narcissistic and the "Me Generation” and stated that he is working to reunite people in a "real life therapy".    A fervent Men's Mental Health Advocate, Best represents a generation of young Men who are dealing with many key challenges that include depression and death by suicide of some of their family members and friends.  

Proclamation Issued By The Honorable James F. Kenney, Mayor Of The City Of Philadelphia  

The Honorable James F. Kenney, Mayor of the City of Philadelphia issued a Proclamation designating Saturday, 19 November 2016 as “International Men’s Day” throughout the City of Philadelphia. 


Texas

San Angelo, Texas

Under the leadership of Ms. Erika Aime Baeza, Director of Multicultural and Student Activities Programs and Mr. Robert Johnny Garcia, the Student Organizations and Activities Center in the Multicultural Affairs Office at Angelo State University in San Angelo, Texas observed 2016 International Men’s Day on 14 November 2016.  The observance took the form of an awards ceremony and reception which recognized male students at San Angelo University who have demonstrated positive character, courage, and a commitment to the academic institution.  The awards ceremony and reception was attended by students, faculty members, administrators, and staff members. ​

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