Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Proven Methods to Increase Mental Health

Why is good social,emotional & psychological health so important?
community, depression, education, exercise, health, increasing, medication, mental, mood disorder, neurotransmitter, sleep, smoking, weight loss,stress,risk,factors,coping,skills
    It reduces:
· risk of emotional and behavioural problems
· violence and crime,
· teenage pregnancy
· drug and alcohol abuse
· it will reduce psychological pain

How to Increase Your Mental Health

·         Try to spend your leisure time participating in your community doing something active rather than playing video games/watching TV.

·          If you are religious get involved in your church.

·         Practice mindfulness (focusing on the now without judging)

·         Learn coping skills and how to develop good relationships (Improve your communication skills)

·   Laugh-it will help your immune system ,moderate stress ,help relationships & improve your mood. 2,3,4

·   Go out into the sun it will help your mood(ask your doctor first if you are on medications & St John's Wort may cause sun sensitivity).Conditions such as SAD(Seasonal Affective Disorder) a type of depression caused by low light levels in the winter.    1

·          Learn how to reduce your stress levels

·         Get enough sleep & look after your physical health & illnesses

·         Follow a healthy diet  and lose weight if you are obese.

·          Quit smoking, drugs & reduce alcohol.

·         Do something creative (art, music…)
·      Exercise regularly -try to use the stairs instead of the lift,take regular breaks to stretch and walk a little to get a drink of water when you are sitting for long hours at the office.Aim for 20-30 minutes 3times a week.Try doing sports you enjoy with others so you can stay motivated.If you would prefer to do it alone you could cycle indoors watching an action movie(try to avoid a comedy,laughing & exercising don't go so well together...
·     Try to work/study & volunteer

· Attend parenting classes if you have a child with an emotional/conduct disorder.
What Every Child Needs for Good Mental Health – Parenting advice on how to provide the love, security, and boundaries every child needs for mental and emotional health. (Mental Health America)

Making and Keeping Friends: A Self-Help Guide
Offers practical advice and tips on developing supportive friendships. (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)

Summary on Prevention of Mental Disorder Guidelines
Statistics and more information on most of the points above with some extra information taken from guidelines made by the EPA-European Psychiatric Association and World Health Organisation

Protective Factors in Childhood

Good Parenting Is Important
It has a significant effect both onset and persistence of emotional and conduct disorder. Therefore, interventions which increase positive mental health and resilience impact across a wide range of areas.

 Parenting programs improve quality of life in the following areas:

·         parental efficacy and practice

·         maternal sensitivity

·         child emotional and behavioural adjustment in the first three years

·         behaviour in high risk children & children with conduct problems

·         increasing safety at home

·         reducing  antisocial behaviour and reoffending

Volunteering can increase well being
 For children and young people, is associated with improved self-esteem, making friends, increased awareness of community and increasing future employment opportunities.

Education is associated with reduced risk of depression and improved mental health. Learning is important for social and cognitive development during childhood.

Reduces the risk of developing depression, improves not only very mild, mild and moderate depression and well-being  but also results in improved cognitive performance (The mental process of knowing, including awareness, perception, reasoning, and judgment)
in school-aged children ,it also improves mental health and well-being in deprived communities
Protective Factors in Adolescence & Adulthood


Spiritual practices and beliefs are associated with improved well-being, as self-esteem, personal growth, satisfaction, quality of life & mastery and control (skillfulness and knowledge so you feel that you have control of your life). Spirituality is also associated with recovery and reduced risk of depression as well as reduced symptoms of illness.
Meaning & Purpose
Well-being is associated with a sense of meaning or purpose. Recovery from mental illness involves building a meaningful and satisfying life (see my post on Values). Mental health services can help you recover by promoting well-being, fostering relationships, offering different treatments and improving social inclusion.

Active Leisure

Active leisure increases well-being by increasing feelings of competency and relaxation,social
inclusion and support as well as helping you distract yourself from difficulties.

Active leisure is divided into 3 groups :
· Social leisure-the main focus is socializing with family& friends
· Cognitive leisure-the focus is on hobbies,games & other mentally stimulating activities
· Physical leisure-sports

Studying as an adult is associated with improved social skills and wider social networks,improved well-being health behaviours and life satisfaction .It has the added advantage of increasing the amount of money you can earn and employability which reduces risk of poor mental health.

Work & Volunteering
For adults and older people,volunteering improves quality of life, especially when involving face-to-face contact with others. Volunteering also provides asocial network which is an important protective factor of mental health. Work has an important role in promoting mental well-being and can provide a sense of fulfilment and opportunities for social interaction. Coordinated approaches can promote well-being of employees

Creativity & Taking Part in the Community
Engagement in arts is associated with improved well-being and quality of life as well as promotion of mental health and prevention of mental illness. It can also help with social participation and community connection. Evidence highlights the impact of art and music in assisting recovery from mental illness. Relationships with friends and community, as well as participation in activities can promote well-being, positive social involvement and ecologically sustainable behaviour.

Mindfulness (focusing on the now)
It is recommended for preventing depressive episodes in the future. Mindfulness helps by increasing awareness, positive mood, quality of life, self-esteem, empathy and optimism and reducing psychological distress and depressive symptoms all which contribute to mental health.

As stated above in the childhood section exercise reduces the risk of developing depression.It improves the mental well-being of the elderly,schizophrenics and improves mental health outcomes .

        Risk Factors for Mental Illness in Childhood

Social Class
Children from the lowest socio-economic class (living in low income, high unemployment areas) have a three-fold increased risk of mental health problems compared to children from the highest socio-economic class. Parental unemployment is associated with 2–3 fold increased risk in emotional/conduct disorder in childhood 

 Smoking during pregnancy:
  •  is associated with two-fold increased risk of conduct disorder in boys 
  •  is predictive of conduct problems and criminal conviction
  • is associated with antisocial behaviour and ADHD symptoms in children .

Drinking alcohol, smoking and drug use during pregnancy are associated with increased risk of a wide range of poor outcomes including long-term neurological and cognitive-emotional development problems (e.g. lower intelligence, temperament, ADHD, conduct problems, poorer school achievements) Reducing smoking during pregnancy is associated with reduced infant behavioural problems and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), improved birth weight and improved physical health.

Maternal stress during pregnancy is also associated with increased risk of child behavioural problems & low birth weight with impaired cognitive (The mental process of knowing, including awareness, perception, reasoning, and judgment) and language development.

Poor parental mental health is associated with 4–5 fold increased emotional/conduct disorder Single parent families show a 2-fold increase in mental illness

Child abuse and adverse childhood experiences increase chances several fold of developing a mental illness and substance misuse/dependence

 Risk Factors for Mental Illness in Adolescence & Adulthood

Passive Leisure
Activities such as watching television and video games have been associated with reduced well-being. Various large studies highlight an association of watching TV and poor health occurring after, such as increased risk of attention problems and learning difficulties.These activities are typically sedentary and may do little to improve physical health or cognitive functioning.

High levels of cannabis use in the adolescent years is associated with a several fold increased risk of schizophrenia.

Obesity-A Risk Factor for Mental Illness & a Side Effect of Medication
As you might have guessed emotional eating to cope with mental illness and antipsychotic medication increase your risk of obesity which reduces your psychological well-being. Rates of obesity are higher for people with mental illnesses, learning disabilities and physical disabilities ,those taking antipsychotic medication are at particular risk.
Smoking increases risk of mental illness by 56%
Smoking is associated with increased risk of depression and anxiety disorder in young people and higher suicide rates. Sadly smokers with mental disorders are less likely to be offered help to stop smoking. The benefits of quitting include reduced depressive symptoms, reduced doses ofsome psychiatric medications by up to 50% ,reduced financial stress & improving mental & physical health.
Several studies highlight the importance of sleep for well-being. Not enough sleep loss and sleep disorder are associated with a reduction in vitality, social functioning, physical and mental health and quality of life. Mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety are also associated with sleep problems

 Physical Illness Increases Risk of Mental Health
Physical illness increases risk of mental illness . Rates for depression are double in those with diabetes, hypertension,coronary artery disease and heart failure,they triple in end-stage kidney failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (a lung disease that is a combination of emphysema and chronic bronchitis; usually patients have been heavy cigarette smokers ) and cerebrovascular disease(relating to the blood vessels and the blood supply of the brain).The amount of people with depression among those with two or more chronic physical conditions is almost seven times higher compared with healthy controls.

List of Risk Factors In Adults & Adolescents :
(This is almost a complete list)
Academic failure and scholastic demoralization
Attention deficits
Caring for chronically ill or dementia patients
Chronic insomnia
Chronic pain
Early Pregnancies
Excessive substance use
Exposure to aggression, violence and trauma
Family conflict or family disorganization
Lack of education, transport, housing
Lower income
Neighbourhood disorganization
Neurochemical imbalance
Peer rejection
Poor social circumstances
Poor nutrition
Personal loss – bereavement
Poor work skills and habits
Reading disabilities
Racial injustice and discrimination
Sensory disabilities or organic handicaps
Social incompetence
Social disadvantage
Stressful life events
Violence and delinquency

Protective factors
Ability to cope with stress
Ability to face adversity
Early cognitive stimulation
Ethnic minorities’ integration
Feelings of security
Feelings of mastery and control
Good parenting
Positive attachment and early bonding
Positive parent–child interaction
Problem-solving skills
Pro-social behaviour
Skills for life
Social and conflict management skills
Socioemotional growth
Stress management
Social support of family and friends
Positive interpersonal interactions

Social participation
Social responsibility and tolerance
Social services
Social support and community networks

 For example the Communities that Care (CTC) Program, has been tested in communities in the USA and is currently being adopted and replicated in The Netherlands, England, Scotland, Wales and Australia. The CTC puts in place strategies that prevent violence and aggression. The communities use local data on risk and protective factors to identify risks and develop actions using evidence-based programs. The CTC has shown improved  youth outcomes such as decreases in school problems (30% decrease), weapons charges (65%), burglary (45%), drug offences (29%) and assault charges (27%)


Active Leisure

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