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Health & Healing

Wellness Elev8ed: Mental Health & Healing

Our Health & Wellness Contributor, Dr. LaKesha Legree met with Pulmonary and Critical Care Physician, Dr. Cedric “Jamie” Rutland to discuss mental health, vulnerability and whether faith and science can coexist. Dr. Rutland will also star in a new series called “Barbershop Medicine.”

Dr. Legree: How can men stay on top of their health mentally and physically?

Dr. Jamie Rutland: Exercise—whether you’re playing hoops, running, lifting— communication, friendship, and love. Those are the things that I think are very important to have in your life. They’re going to keep you as healthy and on top of things as you need to be. The rest is going to be up to you. Effort, determination, and figuring out was to do things that are appropriate for you.

How can we open the dialogue with men about depression and mood changes? How can we let them know it’s okay to not be okay?

We want to be able to provide for our family. it doesn’t matter what we’re doing to provide. You just want to provide for your family and put food on the table. When you can’t do that, it affects your mind. As a physician, I can support my family, but there are times where the month is slow and it really starts to affect my mood. You shouldn’t be above asking your physician for a little bit of help.

How can men recognize signs of depression in themselves, even if it’s just a hint of a mood change that they need to recognize?

One of the questions that I ask my patients during visits is, “What are you doing on Friday or Saturday night? Are you out with your friends? Are you having a good time?” For me, that’s a sign of someone who’s not quite enjoying life.

How advantageous is it to display your emotions and to be vulnerable for the sake of your mental health?

Vulnerability does not mean weakness. I don’t look at it as an insult, I look at is as an opportunity. An opportunity to be better. I think that when you communicate your emotions and your feelings it gives your mind a sense of relief and it also offers the opportunity for others to intervene where you need them to. I literally just told my wife an hour ago that I’ve had three tough weekends in a row in the ICU, I need some more affection. I’m not saying I need sex, I’m saying I just need affection. It just offers a little bit of relief and it makes your mind feel at ease.

In general, how can men advocate for themselves to help their medical provider give them the best care possible?

Listen, it’s no secret that every single year, insurance companies pay [doctors] less and less for reimbursement. And it’s no secret that we’re trying to get through the day and see as many patients as possible to recoup the amount of money that we’ve lost every single year. But at the same time, it doesn’t mean we’re trying to go fast because we don’t care about you. So what you have to do is develop strategies to slow down the visit such as asking questions. Why am I taking this medicine? Why do you suggest this [procedure]? Slow down that visit and allow the physician to get to know you a little bit.

How does faith play a role in your position as a physician? Do you believe faith and medicine can co-exist?

We’ve all had Mama in the room and Mama says “I put my medicine in the hands of the Lord.” And I always say, “Well the hands of the Lord put me right here to offer this to you.” So I think that faith has a serious position in medicine and you have to be able to understand a person’s culture Science is possible because of faith in God and faith in the Lord. So yes, I do agree that they coexist.

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