Mental Health Awareness Week


Canada, let’s #GetLoud for mental health!

“Getting loud” means speaking up to stop the discrimination and the stigma that often accompanies mental illness. It means taking action and using your voice to raise awareness and build support.  Educate yourself.  Make wiser environmental and lifestyle choices to minimize the negative influence on your mental health.

This week marks CMHA’s 65th annual Mental Health Week in Canada.  Unfortunately, mental health tends to be a taboo topic.  Too often, mental health issues are hidden and never discussed.  Many people believe if they don’t talk about it, it doesn’t exist.  But it does exist. It’s real.  It’s prevalent. Someone you know is suffering with mental health issues right now.

Misconception is a problem.  Mental illness is not contagious.  Someone shared with me recently that people in her community believed that Alzheimer’s was contagious.  It’s time to educate Canadians that mental health is important and life affecting.

  • 1 in 5 Canadians experience mental health problems [1]
  • Approximately 7 million Canadians — 20% of our population — live with compromised mental health, mental illness or addiction [2]
  • 1 in 4 Canadian seniors has a mental health issue. And there is growing evidence that the incidence of mental illness is increasing in older adults. [3]
  • Depression is the most common mental health problem for older adults [4]
  • Mental illness is the leading cause of disability worldwide [5]
  • Mental illness can decrease life expectancy by 10-20 years [6]

Tweetable: Staying mentally healthy is like staying physically fit. Let’s #GETLOUD for #MentalHealthWeek.  Tweet!

We all desire to live healthy and happy lives. Your mental wellbeing influences how you live your life.

Your brain is the epicentre of your wellbeing — it’s behind your intellect, your character, your personality and every decision you make.  It is responsible for learning, loving, creating and behaving.  According to Dr. Daniel Amen, author of Change Your Brain, Change Your Life, “The brain is an integrated whole, a symphony of parts that work together to create and sustain life.” [7] It involves how you feel, think, act and how well you get along with people. 

If you want to live a vibrant and healthy life, your mental health status matters. Imbalances in certain types of neurotransmitters can cause abnormalities in your neurons ability to communicate.  When this happens, the brain may send improper instructions to the body, which may, in turn, lead to certain symptoms of mental illness.  The resulting biochemical imbalance can lead to mood disorders like depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. Changes in the size and shape of actual structures within the brain can also contribute to certain mental illnesses.  Illnesses like dementia, Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s.  For more mental illnesses explained, check out http://health.howstuffworks.com/mental-health/mental-disorders/mental-illness-info.htm.

Dr Amen suggests that there are three simple strategies to improving brain health [8]:

  1. Brain envy – be willing to make dietary, lifestyle, spiritual, emotional and mental changes to improve your overall physical health.  In other words, be willing to do the hard work.
  2. Avoid anything that hurts your brain — self explanatory
  3. Engage in regular brain-healthy habits — choose healthful fats, nutrient-dense foods,  fibre, and clean proteins; then move your body daily and engage in stress-reducing practices like deep breathing, meditation or prayer.

I realize that not every mental or emotional or stress-induced problem can be solved by changing your food, your lifestyle or your environment.  But I do know that make changes to your diet alone can go along way to providing the raw materials needed by your body to produce the neurotransmitters for healthy biochemical responses.  Simple changes can improve your physical and mental wellbeing.  Decide to make the changes to clear the brain fog and allow yourself to think clearly.

Watt Works Nutrition is here to assist you on your journey to improved brain health.  Our nutritionist has courses and certificates in cognitive health support.  Call Brenda at 403.671.7254 or email to schedule your free Discovery Chat today.  Why wait?  Change starts by taking the first step.

Don’t hesitate to get help from a healthcare practitioner, if you need it.  The conversation cannot be started, if you don’t open up the discussion.  Don’t suffer in silence.  Talking about it can end the silence and the shame imposed by others. And the shame that we sometimes impose on ourselves. [9] Mental health services are available in your community — check out this link to find local services


Resources 

** Photo from CMHA #GetLoud Public Tool Kit 2016
[1] Smetanin, P., Stiff, D., Briante, C., Adair, C., Ahmad, S. & Khan, M. (2011). The life and economic impact of major mental illnesses in Canada: 2011 to 2041. RiskAnalytica, on behalf of the Mental Health Commission of Canada.  http://strategy.mentalhealthcommission.ca/the-facts/#sthash.I2x6kmfw.dpuf
[2]  CMHA #GetLoud Public Tool Kit 2016 General Fact Sheet. https://mentalhealthweek.cmha.ca/files/2016/04/PublicToolkit.pdf
[3]  CMHA – Senior Fact Sheet
[4]  CMHA – Senior Fact Sheet
[5]  World Health Organization, 10 Facts on Mental Health,http://www.who.int/features/
[6]  Chesney, Goodwin and Fazel (2014) Risks of all-cause and suicide mortality in mental disorders: a meta-review. World Psychiatry. 2014 Jun;13(2):153-60. doi: 10.1002/wps.20128. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24890068
[7]  Daniel G. Amen, M.D., Change Your Brain Change Your Life, (New York: Harmony Books, 2015) p 3.
[8]  Amen, 36.
[9]  CMHA #GetLoud Public Tool Kit 2016, p 2.

About Brenda

Brenda loves learning and sharing what she's learning with you. She is a certified keto/carnivore coach with Keto-Adapted (Maria and Craig Emmerich, a certified holistic nutritional consultant (CHNC), and a natural nutrition clinical practitioner (NNCP).