FORT POLK, La. –
June is Men’s Health Month and the Bayne-Jones Army Community Hospital public affairs officer discussed the topic of men’s health with providers and health care professionals at the Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk, Louisiana.
Capt. Scott Saucer is a licensed clinical social worker at the BJACH embedded behavioral health clinic. Saucer discusses his personal and professional opinions on the subject and why it’s important to highlight the topic in June and throughout the year.
Question: Capt. Saucer why is it so important to discuss men’s health?
Answer: It’s important to discuss health in general. However, most academic literature states that women are more likely to seek medical attention than men. This is often attributed to the social stigmas associated with many men’s health issues. So it’s very important to discuss men’s health for awareness as well as providing resources (specifically which provider to see for a particular or specific health issue).
Question: What are some things you do personally to stay healthy?
Answer: The absolute most important thing I do is eat a proper diet. Diet is the most important thing you can do to stay healthy. Think of your body like your vehicle. If you put bad fuel in your car, it will not perform well. Same thing for your body. Following a healthy diet gives us the fuel we need to be healthy. I also lift free weights, and participate in all forms of cardiovascular exercise (running, rowing, and stair climber).
Question: As a Social Worker in the EBH clinic how does mental health and wellness affect overall physical health?
Answer: Mental health significantly affects overall physical health. Many of our patients, both male and female, who report depression and/or anxiety also report a significant decrease in physical activity and an increase in alcohol intake. Lowered activity combined with increased alcohol intake often have negative impacts on your overall physical health.
Question: During your encounters with your patients, what are some physical ramifications you see in men that are caused by their mental health?
Answer: The most common effect that I personally hear from patients is a reported decrease in sleep or increased difficulty in sleeping. Sleep disturbance alone has significant impact on overall health. Erectile dysfunction, weight gain and increased blood pressure are the other reported physical issues most commonly reported by patients when asked how their mental health is currently or has impacted them in the past.
Question: Why is a man’s mental health just as important as his physical health?
Answer: Simply stated the mind controls the body. Very rarely is there ever a case where someone (male or female) who reports good mental health is reporting poor physical health.
Questions: What are some things Soldiers deal with regularly that can negatively impact their mental health, and what are some healthy things they can do deal with those things?
Answer: Most of the reported issues within our clinic stem from stress at work (issues with their leadership, perceived unfair practices, long work schedules and lack of information flow from their unit leadership); stress stemming from their home or personal life and increased alcohol use. I always ask each Soldier what they are doing in their off time. I specifically ask about any hobbies or interests outside of their work place. If the patients report that they are currently participating in off duty activities I always recommend that they continue to do so. If not, I highly encourage them to begin participating in these activities and often dedicate time with each patient simply focused on what activities interest them and how to participate in them both on and off post.”
Question: If a man is having physical health problems with unknown origin, could it be a manifestation of mental health related issues?
Answer: Absolutely. Stress, anxiety and depression have been shown to cause stomach and digestion issues, cardiovascular issues, increase sleeping issues, headaches just to name a few. Patients who normally report no current or history of any of the above mentioned physical conditions will, during times of increased stress, anxiety or depression often report these issues.
Question: How are your services important resources for men looking to improve their overall health and well-being?
Answer: Mental health is health. Period. Individual sessions provide patients an objective, non-biased visualization of their issues and ways to decrease the effects of and alleviate reported mental health concerns. Caucasian males are at a greater risk of suicide per the data published by the American Psychiatric Association and other governing entities related to physical and mental health. However, race and gender are a small piece of the demographic factors leading to suicide. Financial, legal, marital, physical health, and lack of a local social support system play a much larger role that lead people to suicide. Being able to help patients mitigate stressors in the above areas can drastically lower their depression, stress, and anxiety. A great example of this statement is the COVID-19 pandemic. Mental health issues increased at this time, specifically triggered to isolation from primary support, financial issues, and physical health. The pandemic did not discriminate on who it affected. Access to care was a challenge, but once telehealth became more available to more people, many of the above issues were able to be alleviated through individual sessions.
Editor’s note: This is part two of a five part series that will be posted at https://bayne-jones.tricare.mil and the Bayne-Jones Army Community Hospital Facebook page every Wednesday in June for Men’s Health Awareness month.