It can take some nudging, but Brandon Grant has found men really are willing to talk about their health issues.
One year into his job as the men's health co-ordinator at Northern Health, Grant said he's been pleasantly surprised about how open men are to discussing what's going on with their bodies.
"Guys are ready for this. Guys are ready to talk about men's health," he said. "While there might be that initial wall up, it's amazing to see how quickly that gets broken down and how willing and able guys are to talk about their health issues."
Grant and his team of men's health educators have travelled the region, setting up booths at hockey games, trade shows, basketball tournaments and other places men gather. The theory is that while men may not take the initiative to talk about their health issues, they'll open up if given the chance.
Northern Health staff strike up conversations with men passing by the booth and it often leads to the men sharing their own experience or asking questions.
Although Grant admits sometimes it takes a little extra encouragement.
"Wives and girlfriends are always helpful too, because they're always looking out for the guys," he said.
The group has made 40 presentations to community groups and held 12 screening events, testing over 700 men for things like their cholesterol level or blood sugar.
Next month Grant will be releasing a guidebook he's calling a MANual. The pocket-sized book will give tips on things like when men should start to be concerned about their prostate health or when they might be at a higher risk for diabetes.
"It's going to be men's health maintenance guide," Grant said. "It's going to be a tool for folks to know what sort of medical checks, screenings that they should be cognizant of at all the various life stages as well good information on healthy eating and active listing."
Heading into the second year of the program, Grant said he's planning a conference to train more staff at Northern Health on men's health issues and how they can engage people in the community. He also said it's important for Northern Health to continue to engage with groups like Movember, the Northern Ride for Dad or any other community group that is raising funds for or awareness about men's health.
Grant also encouraged people to visit men.northernhealth.ca to provide any feedback they have on the program.