May is Mental Health Month
by Farrah Hughes, PhD, ABPP
Mental Health America has designated May as Mental Health Month. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), The National Council for Behavioral Health, and the American Psychological Association are participating in activities to increase awareness about the importance of mental health. These groups are encouraging Americans to “Live Your Life Well,” by increasing activities that promote wellness while also working to decrease factors that may cause or exacerbate mental health issues. Use #4mind4body to stay connected on activities related to Mental Health Month.
According to 2016 data, the National Institute of Mental Health reports that:
- About 18% of adults had a diagnosable mental health problem. That’s almost 1 in 5 adults.
- The highest rate of difficulties was for those ages 18-25 (22%).
- Adults 50 and older had the lowest rate (15%).
- Almost half (49.5%) of adolescents aged 13-18 had a diagnosable mental health problem.
Mental health is essential to our overall health and quality of life, and mental illnesses are common and treatable. Given that many of us will experience a mental health problem, and most (if not all) of us will have a loved one experience a mental health problem, it’s important we promote mental health. We also need to recognize warning signs. Many factors can impact our mental (and physical) well-being.
Paying attention to both your physical health and mental health can help you achieve overall wellness. Consider the following:
- A healthy lifestyle can help prevent the onset or worsening of mental health conditions, as well as heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and other chronic health problems.
- Taking good care of your body is crucial for mental health.
- Eating healthy foods, managing stress, exercising, and getting enough sleep can go a long way in keeping you both physically and mentally healthy.
- Exercise benefits nearly all aspects of a person’s health. Not only does acheiving appropriate levels help control weight, it also improves mental health.
- Recent research suggests a connection between your gut health (digestive health) and mental health. Find the right balance of nutrients to benefit both the mind and body.
- Stress has a huge impact on our lives and can make even day-to-day life difficult. Research shows that stress is closely linked to high blood pressure, heart disease and obesity. It also shows that people who feel depressed or chronically stressed may have a greater risk of physical illnesses.
Living a healthy lifestyle may not be easy, but it can be achieved by gradually making small changes and building on those successes. By looking at your overall health every day – both physically and mentally – you can go a long way in ensuring that you focus on your Fitness #4Mind4Body.