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Making Mental Health a Priority for all People

Mom and daughter
Image by nicholasjon via Flickr

I was about seven years old the first time I saw Ray speed into our farmyard drive, run crazily into the house, pace and pace and pace in front of us and tearfully scream for help of someone else to continue his drive to the big hospital in the city. Within seconds, they were out the door – gone. It was years later that I finally understood where Ray would go and what happened. Ray was my uncle and to his rescue was his sister, my Mother, who’d always get Ray safely to the hospital. He’d be admitted to the psychiatric unit, receive shock therapy for treatment of his depression and be discharged a few days later. This scary episode reoccurred for many years and became almost routine for both families – his and ours. This was over forty years ago. Remember how shock therapy was cruelly depicted in the One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest movie? Uncle Ray could not have lived without it – we all witnessed how the electroconvulsive treatment gave him a miraculous fresh start from a mental illness that made him intensely miserable and plagued him with hopelessness and a preoccupation to end his life.

Fortunately 40+ years later, mental health awareness has stronger support with allies across the nations. Yesterday, October 10, 2010, was World Mental Health Day. The World Federation for Mental Health advocates its vision of a world in which mental health is a priority for all people. Their theme this year for World Mental Health Day focuses on the relationship of mental health with chronic physical illnesses – largely because the current World Health Organization‘s World Health Surveys indicates depression has the largest effect on worsening health compared with all other chronic illnesses; i.e. the relationship to mental health is direct and unavoidable when treating chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes, respiratory disease and cancer. The bottom line for World Mental Health Day is that there is no health without mental health. (Last week, the first week of October, was Mental Illness Awareness Week as established in 1990 by the U.S. Congress to raise mental illness awareness.)

My story about Uncle Ray isn’t an isolated one. It is one shared by many .

On 9/30/10, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported an estimated 9% of adult Americans currently meet the criteria for clinical depression.

The November/December 2010 issue of the AARP Magazine just published their landmark survey. 35% of the 3012 study participants ages 45 and up are chronically lonely (rated via the UCLA Loneliness Scale). This is compared to 20% in a similar survey a decade ago. AARP goes on to mention that according to the Census Bureau, 127 million Americans are over age 45 and, thus based on their survey findings, that means more than 44 million older adults suffer from chronic loneliness. Unexpectedly, those who are suffering the most are not our elders but rather adults in their 40s & 50s. Alarmingly, evidence mounts that chronic loneliness increases the chances of other chronic, potentially life-threatening diseases (just as the current World Health Organization‘s World Health Surveys indicates). The stress that accumulates over time with chronic loneliness takes an emotional and physical toll. How lonely are you? Take test to measure your level of loneliness.

Want to beat the blues and be happy? Here are some natural, drug free ways to keep or achieve good mental health:

• Nurture personal relationships. Close family relationships and/or confidants, people you know and trust and who offer you support, are vital.
• Social connections to something outside your day to day routine are critical. Joining a church, community organization, a social club or volunteer, where people work together on a common cause, deepens relationships.
• Don’t let the internet (Facebook and social networking) become a substitute for human contact.
• Eat a healthy diet of raw foods and drink plenty of nature’s blessed water. Watch out for fats, processed foods, sugar, caffeine and alcohol.
• Exercise. 30 minutes of brisk exercise accelerating your heart rate three times a week gives you a sense of accomplishment and builds self-confidence. Exercise supports the production of endorphins and neurotransmitters in our body that keeps us in a good mood too. (Read Duke University’s study about exercise for the treatment of depression.)
• Check out what I recently read in the USA Today of a 26-year study of Germans about how life changes can make you happy.

Are you convinced that that there is no health without mental health? Natural Healthy Concepts have had good customer reviews on Eskaloft B60 by BioGenesis to nutritionally support a healthy emotional expression and mood for those with low spirits or unstable altering moods, and Amla-Royale by Quantum Nutrition Labs to nutritionally support heathly mood and well-being. Neuro-optimizer J120 by Jarrow Formulas, on sale this month, has nutrients that support mood and is more of a general brain food.

We support World Mental Health Day and its push of making mental health a priority for all people.  Don’t Worry Be Happy

BTW, my Uncle Ray died in his early 70s from…heart disease.