6.17.2010

Interview with Greg Barnes of Male Health Initiative: "Society breeds men who are taught to suffer in silence"


(As Houston is observing Men's Health Week, I went one on one with Greg Barnes, coordinator of the Houston Department of Health and Human Services (HDHHS) Male Health Initiative.)


Jesse Muhammad (JM): Why is Men's Health Week such an important initiative?

Greg Barnes (GB): Men continue to be a medically underserved and vulnerable population in terms of poor health outcomes. According to Healthy People 2010, men continue to lead in most common health risk categories, e.g., tobacco use, substance abuse, irresponsible sexual behavior, injury and violence, and access to health care. Men’s Health Week provides an opportunity to raise awareness of these issues and to promote good health and wellness for men and boys.

JM: Why do you think so many men take their health for granted and think getting a checkup is a waste of time?

GB: Historically, society breeds men who are taught to suffer in silence and fails to target and/or tailor health, wellness and prevention messages to men and boys. Of course, we have to take some ownership – in general, men have a higher inclination to be risk takers, to disregard safety standards or laws, and to practice irresponsible, unhealthy behaviors.

JM: I heard the great news about the upcoming opening of the first male-only public health clinic in Texas to be located in Houston. What makes this historic?

GB: While there are other private male-only clinics in Texas, the Houston Department of Health and Human Services (HDHHS) is the first public health department to open a clinic for men. Located at Riverside Health Center (3315 Delano), the TITAN PROJECT is an innovative model of service delivery to males. The male-friendly features such as the onsite barber and internet cafĂ©/video game room offer a different ‘look’ and ‘feel’ than the traditional clinic setting.


JM: Is the mission of this clinic targeted towards the poor and uninsured? When will it open?

GB: HDHHS’s mission is to work in partnership with the community to promote and protect the social well-being of Houstonians. Traditionally, the programs and services are designed to provide a ‘safety net’ for the uninsured, underinsured, medically underserved and vulnerable populations.

The new tentative opening date for the TITAN PROJECT is August 2010 contingent upon securing the ‘right’ clinician. We believe this is the most critical piece in terms of ensuring that men and boys will receive confidential, professional, and caring services – and receive appropriate health promotion messages.

JM: Thank you for your time and I look forward to seeing you all at the events!

For more information on the Houston Men's Health Week visit @ http://www.menshealthweekhouston.com