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Mind Blown

Prepare to have your Mind Blown!

Did you know…

–        Poor mental health is a risk factor for chronic physical conditions?

–        People with serious mental health condition are at higher risk of experiencing chronic physical conditions?

–        People with chronic physical conditions are at risk of developing poor mental health?

So, many of us are here because we saw something physical in ourselves that we wanted to change.  We saw a number on the scale, we saw a size on our clothes tag, we saw flab in place of a six-pack.  Those may be the external triggers, but what about the internal ones?  According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being.  It is not merely the absence of disease or sickness.”  The importance of mental health in the maintenance of good physical health and in recovery from physical illness is now well demonstrated, as is the opposite.  Mental health status is a key consideration in changing the health status of an entire community, and thus the health status of each 1DOS member.

In most parts of the world, the treatment of mental illness was isolated from the rest of medicine and health care until very recently (relative to the history of medicine).  The incurability of “insanity” made doctors believe that the causes were biological defects: untreatable, incurable.  As a psychological consultant to the 1DOS team, I am here to remind you (perhaps ad nauseam) that the relationship between physical health and mental health is bidirectional.

Early scientists were wrong: mental health disorders are treatable, curable and dependent on other critical physical health factors! There is a reciprocal relationship between psychological conditions such as depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and physical ailments (heart disease, stroke, colorectal cancer, back pain, irritable bowel syndrome, multiple sclerosis and diabetes).  Chronic physical conditions impact quality of life, place demands on health care, and generate larger consequences on both an individual and societal level, but often go unaddressed.  Behind the scenes, lifestyle advice can be provided as an initial step in addressing depression and other mental health symptoms.  Sleep, physical activity, and diet are frequently targeted aimed at improving overall functioning, and have been linked to improved mental health.

Here at 1DOS, we will remain focused on comprehensive health and wellness.  Mental health for each person can be affected by a myriad of personal factors and experiences, social interactions, societal structures/resources, and cultural values, and the mental health of each person in turn affects each of these domains and the health of the whole1DOS community (as well as the dozens of home communities which we collectively represent).

Here at 1DOS, we are committed to you, the person.  We don’t focus on single pieces alone- we focus on the integration of mind/body wellness.  Focusing on single components of wellness would mean that other components are neglected and forgotten.  When we focus on improved sleep due to fatigue, we may miss opportunities to rejuvenate our bodies through exercise.  When we focus on prayer and meditation, we may forget to fuel our social selves.  Working tirelessly to earn that promotion at work, may mean neglecting medical appointments, diet/nutrition and relationships with our spouse and children.

I am here to answer questions about the integration of health and mental health.  We will discuss variables which impact health, and consider important factors:  what is “healthy” sometimes depends on geography, culture, and historical context.  The WHO (2005) article asks, “…a given culture’s definition of mental health can be parochial and, even if mental health is “good”, what is it good for?  The self or for society? For fitting in or for creativity?  For happiness or for survival?”  Many of us have joined this wellness journey after realizing that everything we thought we knew about physical health and weight-loss was…well, wrong!  The same is likely true of the understanding that we have of our emotional well-being, crafted over a lifetime and impacted by every person, job, community, and culture that we have been exposed to.  It’s time to challenge what you thought you knew; it’s time for a brand new you (inside and out)!

Resources:

Promoting mental health : concepts, emerging evidence, practice : summary report / a report from the World Health Organization, Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse in collaboration with the Victorian Health Promotion Foundation (VicHealth) and the University of Melbourne. (2005). http://www.who.int/mental_health/evidence/MH_Promotion_Book.pdf

Melissa Porter, PsyD

Your consultant for everything “mental”