Mental Health Awareness Week 16-22 May

Posted: Fri, 13 May 2016 14:24

Mental Health Awareness Week 16-22 May

During Mental Health Awareness Week (16th-22nd May) we, along with our locality partners, are promoting the importance of physical activity and mental health.

Mental health problems affect 1 in 4 people and in Leicestershire 21,922 people within the registered population aged 18 and over were diagnosed with depression (7.4%). This is significantly higher than the England average (5.8%).*

We all know that being physically active is good for our bodies. But our physical health and mental health are closely linked – so physical activity can be very beneficial for our mental health and wellbeing too.

Lots of us don't get enough exercise to stay healthy, but physical activity is particularly important if you have a mental health problem.

Physical health benefits

As well as improving your overall physical fitness, being more active can have the following physical benefits:

  • Protects against mental health problems.
  • Decreases depression in older adults.
  • Is an effective as medication for mild to moderate anxiety and depression.
  • Improves self-esteem and cognitive function in young people.
  • Reduced risk of some diseases. For example, health experts suggest that being more active can reduce your risk of developing a stroke or heart disease by 10%, and type 2 diabetes by 30–40%.
  • Healthier organs. When you're active your body is working more, which is good for your organs. For example, a stronger heart will help you have lower cholesterol and lower blood pressure.
  • Healthier bones. Weight-bearing exercises will strengthen your bones and build your muscle, which can reduce your chances of developing osteoporosis.
  • Healthier weight. If you're overweight, becoming more active can help you start to reduce body fat as your stamina and fitness levels improve.
  • More energy. As your body adapts to increased activity levels you get a natural energy boost, which can make you feel less tired. Researchers say that even low intensity levels of activity can be beneficial if you usually feel very fatigued.
  • Improved sleep. Many people find they are able to sleep better at night after having been more active during the day.

Mental health benefits

  • Reduced anxiety and happier moods. When you exercise, your brain chemistry changes through the release of endorphins (sometimes called 'feel good' hormones), which can calm anxiety and lift your mood.
  • Reduced feelings of stress. You may experience reductions in feelings of stress and tension as your body is better able to control cortisol levels.
  • Clearer thinking. Some people find that exercise helps to break up racing thoughts. As your body tires so does your mind, leaving you calmer and better able to think clearly.
  • A greater sense of calm. Simply taking time out to exercise can give you space to think things over and help your mind feel calmer.
  • Increased self-esteem. When you start to see your fitness levels increase and your body improve, it can give your self-esteem a big boost. The sense of achievement you get from learning new skills and achieving your goals can also help you feel better about yourself and lift your mood. Improved self-esteem also has a protective effect that increases life satisfaction and can make you more resilient to feeling stressed.

For links to local Mental Health Organisations and Charities visit local health resources section.

For more information and to view local activities and sessions taking place as part of Mental Health Awareness Week pleas eopen the attachment below.

*NICE Guidelines and Leicester Mental Health Joint Strategic Needs Assessment

Tags: Mental Health, News