Eight men attended the Men’s Health Workshop at the Institute for Family Health’s Stevenson Family Health Center. Joseph Ellis, author of this article, is fourth from the left.
This post was written by Joseph Ellis, a Community Health Worker at Bronx Health REACH.
As a Community Health Worker for Bronx Health REACH and the Men’s Department Coordinator for my church, Bronx Deliverance Center of Faith, I have been working and communicating with men in the community and the churches for several years. Our conversations have been on various subjects such as spiritual growth, finances, community involvement, and health.
I’ve noticed that when we begin to talk about our health, we come up with many reasons why we are not giving our health top priority in our life. For example, we work, we are tired when we get home, we have no desire, we are not interested in exercising because it takes too much time, we eat whatever our partner cooks, or we do not have time to go to the Doctor.
Normally men have a difficult time discussing issues concerning our health. Our perception of ourselves is often: whatever we face, we can handle. Irrespective of the challenge, men believe they are indestructible, and can address any issue on their own, even if it’s a health one. But this is not always the case.
Many of the men I have spoken with mentioned having struggles with health concerns like diabetes, being overweight and losing the weight, being stressed about work and providing for their families. As a Community Health Worker, I wanted to do something to address these concerns. If I could get them all together in a workshop and have their health concerns addressed by a doctor, maybe they would be more receptive to opening up about the challenges they have as men regarding being healthy.
With the help of Ms. Tabasa Ozawa, one of the interns at Bronx Health REACH, we created a Men’s Health survey that we distributed to men to get a broader idea of the other health topics they are concerned about. Using this survey, I was able to outreach to 160 men from different ethnicities and ages in the community, churches, and masjids. It took a couple of months to gather all this important information together.
From the information gathered, I organized a Men’s Health Workshop at the Institute for Family Health’s Stevenson Family Health Center in the Bronx. Dr. Eric Gayle, the NYC Regional Medical director for the Institute for Family Health, led this first Men’s Health Workshop on Saturday, January 18, 2020.
Dr. Eric Gayle led the workshop and answered questions about Men’s health.
Several health topics were chosen that we felt would encourage a dialogue among the men.
Those topics were:
a. Age Dependent Preventive Health
d. Interacting with your Primary Provider
e. Cancer Screenings
The interaction between the men and Dr. Gayle was dynamic. He talked to them and not at them. As they warmed up to him, the questions just kept coming. This workshop was designed to get the men to open up about their health concerns, and they did. Scheduled for two hours, the workshop easily went another half an hour.
Questions were addressed about diabetes, family history, discussing your health concerns with your doctor; (the doctors are here to help you but need you to communicate to them what is bothering you), sexual health, prostate growth and cancer, what are the options to combat these concerns and more.
The workshop hit home for the men and they wanted to know when we would be holding the next one. When the workshop ended, a couple of the men hugged Dr. Gayle and prayed for him. Wow! What a positive response to a dynamic workshop.
Attendees were encouraged to be proactive in managing their health.
As a Community Health Worker, I am encouraged that having these Men’s Health Workshops will be a tremendous help in assisting the men in our communities to take charge of their health and become more proactive. With the help of Dr. Gayle and other providers at the Institute for Family Health, we will continue to organize more workshops to provide a forum where men can have an open discussion about their health.
If you would like more information about the Men’s Health Workshop, contact Joseph Ellis at (212) 633-0800, ext. 1341.