For decades, physicians have touted the benefits of exercise toward long-term health. But did you know that physical activity and good nutrition is a first line defense for mental health as well? Since 1949, May has been observed as National Mental Health Awareness Month. Pathways to Wellness— this year’s theme of May is Mental Health Month—calls attention to strategies and approaches that help all Americans achieve wellness and good mental and overall health.
Wellness is more than an absence of disease. It involves complete general, mental and social well-being. And mental health is an essential component of overall health and well-being. The fact is our overall well-being is tied to the balance that exists between our emotional, physical, spiritual and mental health.
Whatever our situation, we are all at risk of stress given the demands of daily life and the challenges it brings—at home, at work and in life. Steps that build and maintain well-being and help us all achieve wellness involve a balanced diet, regular exercise, enough sleep, a sense of self-worth, development of coping skills that promote resiliency, emotional awareness, and connections to family, friends and the community.
These steps should be complemented by taking stock of one’s well-being through regular mental health checkups. Just as we check our blood pressure and get cancer screenings, it’s a good idea to take periodic reading of our emotional well-being. One recent study said everyone should get their mental health checked as often as they get a physical, and many doctors routinely screen for mental health, which typically includes a series of questions about lifestyle, eating and drinking habits and mental wellness. But a checkup doesn’t necessarily require a special trip to the doctor. There are also online screening tools you can use. While conditions like depression are common—roughly 1 in 5 Americans have a mental health condition—they are very treatable.
Fully embracing the concept of wellness not only improves health in the mind, body and spirit, but also maximizes one’s potential to lead a full and productive life. Using strategies that promote resiliency and strengthen mental health and prevent mental illness and substance abuse conditions lead to improved general health and a healthier society: greater academic achievement by our children, a more productive economy, and families that stay together.
Clermont County Family and Children First (FCF) promotes collaboration among local service agencies to ensure that children and their families receive the most appropriate services to meet their mental health needs. For additional information about local mental health resources, visit the Clermont County Mental Health & Recovery Board at www.ccmhrb.org.
As a member of Clermont CAN, FCF supports local activities that encourage wellness through increased activity and better nutrition. CAN meets on the 2nd Tuesday of every month at the Clermont County Health District, and anyone interested is invited to attend. Find more information about Clermont CAN at www.clermonthealthdistrict.org.
By: Lori Watkins, Program Manager, Family & Children First