There’s No Health Without Mental Health
Written by Karen Ranus, executive director of NAMI Austin
Have you ever felt a little “blue” when you’re battling a lingering illness or experienced absolutely no desire for physical activity when you’re in an emotional funk? We have a tendency to think of physical and mental health as distinct and disconnected, but humans are physical and mental beings. The World Health Organization said it best, “there is no health without mental health.”
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), 1 in 5 Americans experience a mental health condition in any given year (that’s 43.7 million people!). Mental illnesses actually have a higher prevalence rate than our most commonly recognized public health concerns including diabetes, asthma, heart disease and cancer. We don’t realize how common mental health conditions are because we’re still not comfortable talking about depression and anxiety in the same way we talk about cancer and diabetes.
Yet, physical health and mental health are closely connected. Studies show that poor physical health can lead to an increased risk of developing mental health issues. Similarly, poor mental health can negatively impact physical health and lead to an increased risk of some conditions. In fact, depression has been known to increase the chance of heart disease by 67%!
And, like physical conditions, the earlier people access treatment for their mental health conditions, the much better their outcomes. In fact, mental health conditions have a 60-80% treatment success rate, and a nutritious diet, plenty of sleep, regular exercise and a strong support system of family and friends create a strong foundation for mental wellness and recovery.
Research shows that doing exercise influences the release and uptake of feel-good chemicals called endorphins in the brain. Even a short burst of 10 minutes brisk walking increases our mental alertness, energy and positive mood. Good nutrition is a crucial factor in influencing the way we feel. The food we eat can influence the development, management and prevention of numerous mental health conditions.
May is Mental Health Month. It’s a perfect time for Texans to encourage positive mental health conversations, discover the mental health resources in their community and share the message that “there is no health without mental health!”
We are proud to partner with NAMI Texas and NAMI Austin to make healthy easier for all Texans, in every way! Visit their websites for more great info and resources, and post on social media with the hashtags #MentalHealthMatters #HealthierTexas to share your support!