Men, lets face it; we have to start taking better care of ourselves. Yes, we are starting to get into the grooming aspect, like moisturizing our faces, getting pedicures and even microblading. But what about the inside? What about what we are putting in our bodies like food and how we exercise? We recently spoke with Walker Tisdale of HealthyBlackMen.org where he talks about the website, why it’s important to live a healthy lifestyle and their new app!
What is the Healthy Black Men App?
The app is our latest effort to mobilize brothers around free, health and wellness content. When we first launched the site – nearly 10 years ago, it was all about filling a void. There were literally no digital platforms dedicated 100% to Black men’s health. We see the app as a ‘connector’ of brothers to tailored health content, urban health centers, video messages/demos, and other resources. We want brothers to talk about the app, share with their friends, and most importantly give us feedback so we can continue to be the go-to health source for black men.
What inspired you to create the Healthy Black Men website?
I started my public health career more than 20 years ago and specifically when I worked at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. I always thought based on health disparity research that more digital resources should be dedicated to Black men’s health and mental health. My ambitious nature pushed me to enlist the help of family, friends, and colleagues to develop and launch the initial platform at a time when funding was out of reach and honestly widespread interest in the project was zero. If you tell me something I’m passionate about is not worthwhile, that’s the fastest way to get me to double my efforts. I saw a need and thought someone should do something. After a bunch of ‘no thank you’s’ – that someone turned out to be me.
Why is it so important for Black Men to live a Healthy Lifestyle?
Black men obviously are vital members of the Black community and family. Unhealthy black men can significantly undermine the overall health of our people. High mortality among brothers create fatherless children, diminishes family resilience, and even mentally can create stressors on others. Healthy Black Men is a call-to-action for brothers and allies to support black boys and men to be the best they can be just like we need our black girls and women to be the best they can be.
Who are some of the experts that provide content to The Healthy Black Men site?
We’ve been fortunate that so many amazing experts share their time, expertise, and even financial support to keep Healthyblackmen.org going. The launch of the mobile app includes our first issue of a print magazine. Physicians, mental health professionals, nurses, health educators, policy makers, athletes and even celebrities have all helped to make us better. Literally without the support of my community, we would not be able to make the impact we make each year.
If there was one thing that you would like Black Men to stop doing in order to live a more healthier lifestyle what would that be?
Actually, I’d like to turn that around and encourage brothers to do three (3) simple things that I think would improve our individual and collective health status. First, take stock of your personal health and proactively do everything you can to improve or maintain the healthiest life you can. Second, think about the young and older men in your life, on your block, or in the community and engage them with kindness and support when you see them eat too much, drink too much, get depressed, etc. Tell them about our app or the site, give a word of encouragement, etc. But overall, let’s reduce the negative way in which we engage one another overall. And lastly, I would love it if everyone reading this joined our effort to mobilize more brothers to support our digital health platforms, engage us on social media, etc. We operate as a small non-profit and every bit of support let’s us know we are on the right track. Let us hear from you!
Your site speaks on Mental Health. How important is it to provide more attention to Mental Health in the Black Community?
It’s critical. Whether its anger, depression, or an addiction, silence on these issues can literally kill. We are not just our brother or sisters’ keeper, we are our brother and sister. I personally have friends, family members, and former partners who have suffered from depression. It’s more common than we think and the stigma keeps us all sick. You cannot address something you are unwilling to even acknowledge. I encourage everyone to talk more openly about our own emotions and be willing to listen without judgment to someone else. Just by being a trusted listener allows us to at least have a conversation. A conversation that could be lifesaving for someone.
Men have begun to pay closer attention to their own personal Grooming. What do you attribute to this new interest?
Brothers have always led trends in grooming and style. I think today and this younger generation are taking it to a new level and I love it. Black men recognize that when you look good, you likely feel good too. Getting a fresh cut, taking care of the skin, feet, etc. all reflects on how we might feel about ourselves. I know I feel fly when I come from the barber. I want brothers to continue to represent!
What can we look forward to from HealthyBlackMen.org?
We are excited to be sharing the newest Contributors from around the country. We try really, really hard to enlist a dynamic and diverse group of experts for the site content.Also, I’m also focused on recruiting a managing editor for the site. We are at the point to where we managing a lot of people, content, and now with the new app we can reach even more brothers. And of course, we have new content coming your way, as well as the re-launch of our digital newsletter. The newsletter is actually how we reach a lot of international supporters. That starts again in September.