Why Body and Mind well beings are important?
Good Body and mental health well beings are important to lives of all people and to the communities where they live. It is essential to achieve a healthy, resilient and thriving population. The skills and attributes associated with mental health wellbeing (e.g. self respect, confidence, resilience, tolerance, empathy, sense of meaning) influence a very wide range of outcomes. These include physical health, educational attainment, relationship, community safety, cohesion, and quality of life as well as quality of positive thought.
Enjoyment of the world around us, our families and friends, physical activities, appreciation of art music and spirituality can all contribute to good mental health and wellbeing. Mental health can be adversely affected by things like worries about money, stressful work, poor relationship, bullying and violence. Our mental wellbeing is also affected by whether or not we feel in control of our lives, feel safe, have good relationship with other people and feel involved with our community.
Benefits of wellbeing include reducing health risk behaviour (such as smoking) and reduced mortality. Populations with good mental wellbeing also have improved overall health, recover more rapidly, are admitted to hospital less frequently and have higher level of employment and productivity.
On the other hand, poor mental health is associated with higher rate of risk taking behaviour such as smoking which is the largest cause of premature death in the UK. Increased alcohol and drug misuse, lack of physical activity and unhealthy lifestyle such as unhealthy living and unhealthy eating, occur in higher rates in those with poor mental health.
What are mental health problems?
Mental health refers to depression and anxiety (which may also be referred to as common mental disorder) as well as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder (also referred to as severe mental illness). Mental disorder includes mental illness but also covers conditions such as personality disorder, and alcohol and drug problems. These conditions are of considerable public health significance given the associated health and social care implication.
The impact of mental disorder
Mental health disorder is associated with higher rate of physical illness and premature death – those with depression die 10 years earlier, while those with schizophrenia die 20 years earlier. This is largely due to high risk of behaviour such as smoking, alcohol and drug misuse, lack of physical activity and poor diet which occur in response to emotional and stress related problems. Smoking is the largest cause of preventable death and 42% of adult tobacco consumption in England is by those with mental disorders. However those with mental disorders are less likely to be offered smoking cessation interventions.
Mental illness accounts for a great number of disability adjusted life years (a measure of overall burden of disease), than other major condition such as cancer, circulatory and respiratory diseases.
What is public mental health?
It has been defined as the art, science and politics of creating a mentally healthy society.
Resilience/ community assets
Resilience is the ability to cope with life’s challenges and to recover from, or adapt to, adversity. We are not born with a fixed capacity for resilience. Resilience is something that can be learned and improved on, as well as eroded or worn down by difficult circumstances, so a person’s resilience may change over their life time.
Resilience is important because it can help to protect against the development of mental health problems. People with high resilience are more likely to cope with difficult experiences whilst maintaining a
high level of wellbeing. And good levels of resilience can help us to recover more quickly if we do experience mental health problems.
Three factors that affect resilience include;
- Activities that promote wellbeing
- Building social capital
- Developing psychological coping strategies.
Protective factors for mental health
- Genetic background, maternal (ante-natal and post-natal) care, early upbringing and early experiences including attachment pattern, good parenting
- Personality traits
- Age, gender and marital status
- Socioeconomic factors including access to resources
- Strong social support and network
- Reduce inequality
- Employment and other purposeful activity
- Good relationship
- Community factors such as levels of trust and participation, social capital
- Self-esteem, autonomy, values such as altruism
- Emotional and social literacy
- Physical, social and spiritual health
What are the major risk factors for mental ill health?
- Lower income, debt, violence, stressful life events
- Poor housing, fuel poverty and unemployment
- Alcohol and drug abuse can both cause and exacerbate pre-existing mental health problems.
- Substance abuse can serve as a trigger for latent emotional conditions.
- Chronic heavy drinkers are more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety, serious cognitive impairment and psychosis.
Groups at risk of poor mental health among adults and other people
- People at particular life stages including: Antenatal and postnatal women; Older people
- People with long term conditions and chronic disease
- Poor experiencing mental illness
- People with learning disabilities
- Black and Minority ethnic groups
- Offenders and ex-prisoners
- People dependent on drug and alcohol
- Gay and bisexual people
Promoting strength and resilience
Resilience is an important aspect of mental health which can reduce impact of adversity and also promote capacity to face other difficulties. Examples of effective interventions to promote resilience include work- based mental health promotion and stress reduction interventions, workplace wellbeing programmes are effective and can result in economic benefits for business of almost £10 for each pound invested within one year. Stress management at work can reduce work related stress and sickness absence , unemployment , promoting wellbeing, motivation and resilience of those who become unemployed and facilitating return to work reduces depression and distress.
Best practice models related to public mental health
Social prescribing; physical activity and obesity services
Physical activity has been found to be as effective in the treatment of mild to moderate mental health problems as anti- depressant drugs and psychotherapy.
Physical activity is associated with a reduced risk of depression and dementia later in life.
Physical activity improves sub-threshold, mild and moderate depression. Wellbeing improved mental health and wellbeing in deprived communities, improved mental wellbeing of those with schizophrenia and improved mental health outcomes in older people as well as reduced the risk of depression.
Early physical health promotion to address a range of health risk behaviour in those with mental illness increases wellbeing, promotes recovery and can prevent development of physical health problems.
The effectiveness of exercise in the treatment of clinical depression is well documented. Additionally, exercise can improve physical self perception and in some cases global self esteem.
Free for all, Holistic body and mind wellbeing services are offered by “Health and Happiness for All”
Dr Najeeb Ahmad
M.B, B.S, M.P.H (Masters in Public Health & Lifestyle Management)
Diploma in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (UK)
(Healthy Living Centre)