Are you comfortable seeking out help for health-related concerns? It’s perfectly normal to feel uncertain about discussing your personal health needs with others, even if they are professionals. With June being National Men’s Health Month, we sat down with three of our providers at Heyl Family Practice and asked them questions about their thoughts on the current state of men’s health and the ways that men can take proactive steps to take control of their health.

Q: What are areas where you see men lacking in their healthcare? How can men improve in these areas?

We first spoke to Dr. Scott Heyl on areas in which men can improve their healthcare. Without missing a beat, he stated, “First and foremost is exercising 150 minutes a week.” He also recommends improving your diet by eating more whole foods and less processed foods, as well as decreasing alcohol intake and refraining from tobacco abuse. He emphasizes the importance of completing a yearly physical and getting a yearly PSA (Prostate-Specific Antigen) test (this is typically done through a simple urine sample). In addition, Dr. Heyl encourages men to elect to complete a colon cancer screening starting at the age of 45 based on their family history. As for struggles with depression and anxiety, Dr. Heyl says that when we start to have these feelings, “it's important to seek out a medical professional early because poor mental health can lead to the possibility of excessive calorie consumption, excessive alcohol consumption, and excessive drug consumption.” Dr. Heyl believes that, “there's still a stigma related to mental health issues,” but he also sees improvement on the rise with more men being willing to share about their mental health. His insight is shared by the Cleveland Clinic, who found that according to their 2023 national study, 65% of men are hesitant to seek professional help for issues like stress, anxiety, and depression.

With that, Dr. Heyl says that improvement “starts with awareness of how depression or anxiety interplays with the way that we act towards our kids, our families, and people [we work with].” At a family practice like Heyl Family Practice, seeing the doctor involves building a personal relationship with the patient. It is a priority for Dr. Heyl and the other physicians at the practice to meet patients where they are, which is why so many people come to the practice to seek out their guidance.

Q: Do you think mental health issues can impact someone’s physical health?

Matt Bocian, a Physician Assistant at Heyl Family Practice, believes that physical health and mental health are directly related. He explains that most men (including himself) always have room to grow in regard to seeking out preventive healthcare. 

Matt Bocian says that physical health issues are usually more obvious than mental health issues, which tend to be “more hidden,” but that doesn’t make them less important. Taking the step to express the need for support with your mental health will have positive effects. Dr. Scott Heyl adds to this by saying that, “improving mental health can really improve every facet of our lives.” 

Although it may be challenging, connecting with a provider about your mental health concerns is a highly valuable investment that can save you time and energy in the future. As Matt Bocian says, “A little bit of effort now saves the need for a lot of effort later.”

Q: What have you seen change in the world of men’s health over the last 40 years? 

Dr. Louis Heyl, a founding member of Genesis Medical Associates, has over 40 years of experience caring for individuals in our community. We asked him about his thoughts on how men’s health has changed over the years.

To start, Dr. Heyl believes treatment options have allowed men to live longer and healthier lives. For example, Dr. Heyl states, “there's been significant advancements in the treatment of prostate cancer,” since he started as a doctor and he doesn’t see as many men losing their lives to prostate cancer as he did in the past. Additionally, the side effects of diabetes have been reduced, and treatment for vascular and coronary diseases has improved.

Dr. Heyl sees the medical world continuing to advance in the field of treatments for diseases. He emphasizes the importance of caring for your body to prevent illness instead of just focusing on the treatment of chronic illness. He says that many people don’t realize the power that lifestyle changes can have in improving overall health. “When you [care for your body], other things get better.” Among his patients who are living longer (like into their 90s), Dr. Heyl can confidently say they have common characteristics: they are good eaters, they are physically active, and they have kept their total body weight down. It’s hard to argue that those characteristics didn’t play some sort of role in their ability to live longer.

When asked what he would tell his younger self about his health, or about men’s health in general, Dr. Heyl said that he would try to maintain more of a balance between preventing diseases and treating them. At this point in time, Dr. Heyl says his job is to help men know that they have control over their health and the possible outcomes tied to chronic illness.

Based on some of the insights from our providers, we hope you are empowered to take the next step toward a healthier you. It just takes that first step to open the door to so many possibilities. Additionally, although our providers give meaningful insights on these very relevant areas of concern, it is important to discuss your individual needs with your provider before making big lifestyle changes. If you or someone you know is looking for a new primary care provider, reach out to us at Heyl Family Practice. We are always eager to accommodate new patients or reconnect with past patients to establish a comprehensive care plan that will meet you where you are.

Please note: If you need immediate help with a mental health crisis, call 988 for the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline.

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