The NHS estimates 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year; the exact same share of adults in the UK who are obese.
But which gets more coverage in the media? Which one is easier to talk about?
10th October is World Mental Health Day, the perfect time to give mental health more of the coverage it deserves.
Over the course of hundreds of 1-1 fitness consultations and thousands of hours training, mental health issues have come up time and time again. As any personal trainer, nutritionist or wellbeing professional will tell you, mental health is often linked to why clients train. If you deal with people you deal with mental health.
Yet we do not always talk about it.
Physical health is easier; you can see it. Mental health can be more difficult to understand.
But that needs to change. With that in mind, I hope these thoughts and findings from experts in the wellness industry can help open up the conversation and remind us how important the mind-body connection really is.
As a personal trainer, my clients come to me with physical goals, sometimes not realising that really what they were expressing was their need for psychic change.
If you work with people, you work with mental health and whether it’s in the gym or in the therapy room, I know that I AM going to come across mental health.
We need to realise the importance of this in not just ourselves but also in the fact that we are going to be meet at least one person with mental health issues every day.
We need to remove the stigma and start to talk about it, as I personally believe this is one of the reasons that it’s getting worse.
My advice to anyone would be to really think about what it is you want to change, because it’s not always physical.
Mental Health Awareness Day – what a wonderful opportunity to talk about a reality affecting people globally. Recently, I have had a few people say to me “Leigh, when you use the words “mental health” it sounds scary, I don’t like it.”
Well … mental health, mental health, mental health!
Call it what you wish, it needn’t be scary and there is a continuing awareness around the topic, as conversations and experiences are shared. We all experience it and all find ourselves on a continuum between poor and positive.
In promoting positive mental health, we can all learn emotional resilience tactics. Resilience is something that can be learnt, proven thanks to Emma Werner’s longitudinal study for 1955. The study showed how learning protective factors can foster optimism and contentment. Protective factors (resilience training) includes managing stress; prioritising self-care; building self-esteem and managing feelings.
The connection between mental and physical health is widely overlooked. Making smart food choices can be vital to boost your mood, performance and overall wellbeing.
As an example, studies are increasingly proving that a two way gut-brain connection exists, and this makes complete sense given that around 90% of the body’s serotonin is produced in the digestive tract. Michael Gershon’s 1998 paper on the enteric nervous system has shown how our state of mind and emotions are likely influenced by our gut.
I was also lucky enough to sit down with Brendon Stubbs at Kings College London, a man who is all about the evidence:
- Research has shown people who engage in most physical activity are less likely to develop depression. In looking at over 266,000 people free from depression at baseline, it has been shown people with high (vs. low) physical activity were generally around 20% less likely to suffer depression – Physical Activity and Incident Depression, April 2018
- Exercise can also act as intervention for people with depression. Brendon’s research shows that exercise is very effective for people with depressive symptoms and major depression – Exercise as a Treatment for Depression, Feb 2016
About 4 years ago I was diagnosed with severe depression and anxiety – everything came to a head about 21 months ago.
Remember, 1 in 4 adults in the UK experience mental health problems each year, and 60-70% of us have experienced mental ill health at some point in our lifetime (Mental Health Foundation) so we are not alone.
If you would like to talk about the link between physical and mental health then please get in touch. Alternatively, if you want to learn more or find support on mental health, Mind is a great place to turn.
You can hear more from Brendon here.
Before becoming a Personal Trainer, Chris worked at a top US investment bank, Strategy Consultancy and Sports Marketing agency. His experience taught him that physical and mental wellbeing sits at the heart of good performance. He founded Innerfit to improve workplace wellbeing and set out on a mission to transform how organisations approach wellbeing.