June 15-21, 2015 is Men’s Health Week this year.  What does that mean? It encourages early detection and treatment of disease among men and boys.  Through the media, it gives awareness to health problems that are preventable.

Health Issues Affect The Whole Family

Young men, still in high school, have many of the same health issues as others within the same family such as smoking and drinking.  Did you know that 90% of smokers began before the age of 19 and that more than 95% of them will become daily smokers. Teen smokers are more likely to have panic attacks, anxiety disorders and depression. http://www.dosomething.org/11-facts-about-teen-smoking.

We all know that underage drinking is a major health problem.  Yet did you realize that young men (and women), ages 12 to 20 drink 11% of all alcohol consumed in the United States?  Even worse, more than 90% of this alcohol is consumed by binge drinkers!  The 2013 Youth Risk Behavior Survey found that among high school students, during the past thirty days, 35% drank alcohol. http://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-CDC Fact Sheets-Underage Drinking-Sheets-underage-drinking.html.

LGBTQ Risk Factors Higher Than Heterosexual Population

Youth who identify as LGBTQ or report same-gender sexual contact are more apt to participate in a variety of sexual health risk behaviors.  From aYouth Risk Behavior Surveillance data, 2001 to 2009, gathered from eight U.S,. sites, researchers discovered that students who identified as lesbian or gay were more likely (median 67%) than students who identified as heterosexuals (median 44%) to ever have engaged in sexual intercourse. The Q or questioning were least likely (median 43%).

Sexually active high school students are more likely to use condoms if they are heterosexual  (66%) than among those who identify as gay or lesbian (median 36%, bisexual (median 54%) or unsure (median 53%).  In the United States alone, 62% of high school seniors have had sex.

Parents, you need to talk to your children about safe sex, if you haven’t already.http://www.advocatesforyouth.org/publications-a-z/413-adolescent-sexual-behavior-.

Another protection for your sexually active teen is the HPV Vaccine. Available since 2006, it is recommended for preteen boys and girls at age 11 or 12.  However, it’s not too late as a teen to receive the three spaced shots.  HPV infections can cause cervical, vaginal, and vulvar cancers in females and penile and anal cancer in men. It is estimated that one in four are affected or 14 million people per year.http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/who/teens/vaccines/hpv.html.

Emotional well-being is part of mental health.  Students who identify as LGBT are more likely than heterosexual students to report high levels of drug use, feelings of depression, and suicide attempts.  A national study of students in grades 7-12 found that GLB youth were more than twice as likely than their heterosexual peers to have attempted suicide and were more likely to have completed suicide.  Six in ten felt unsafe at school due to harassment and bullying.http://www.healthline.com/health/depression/gay

Because of the disproportionate rate of health problems among  the LGBTQ population, parents need to address these concerns not just this week, but always.  The family doctor can help as well as the supportive links above.  Whether it’s physical or mental health or a blend of the two, your child’s health affects the whole family and in many of the cases, the health problems are preventable.

When Your Child is Gay

When Your Child Is Gay: What You Need To Know

For more detailed advice, see book, co-authored with a mother of a gay son and a psychiatrist, Jonathan L. Tobkes, M.D.

Wesley Cullen Davidson

Wesley Cullen Davidson is an award-winning freelance writer and journalist specializing in parenting as well as gay and lesbian content. For the past two years, Wesley has concentrated almost exclusively on the lesbian and gay community, specifically on advising straight parents of gay children on how to be better parents and raise happy, well-adjusted adults

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