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Health Promotion: Mental Health

From PEKN 1P93 Winter 2014: Group 14: Health Promotion, Mental Health

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[edit] Background

Mental Health can be defined as the overall well being of a person and the psychological state of that individual throughout ones life. Similar to the bodies need for exercise to be healthy, the human mind must also obtain a level of mental fitness in order for an individual to live a psychologically stable and healthy life. This idea was first labelled as 'mental hygiene' by William Shweetzer in the 1840's (Mandell, 2014).The state of health of an individual’s mind greatly affects the way he/she interprets the world and the behavior they engage in. When a person’s mental fitness is considered low they may become subject to various mental illnesses. Examples of mental illness include depression, bipolar disorder, eating disorder, psychosis, anxiety or schizophrenia. Over many recent years a stigma has developed surrounding mental health that has caused it not to be recognized as a major influence on our personal health. In 2012 alone, approximately 2.8 million Canadians (10.1% of population) over the age of 15 reported symptoms of mental illness or disorders (Community Mental Health Survey, 2013). However, only 50% of people are willing to tell co-workers or other family members that they or a loved one has a mental illness which has allowed it to become the second leading cause for disability and premature death in Canada (Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, 2012). Physical activity has begun to be used as a treatment for those suffering from mental illness. Studies show that exercise and physical activity can help reduce symptoms such as depression by helping to boost a persons mood and creativity after only one session of exercise. Acute exercise is also evident in reducing state anxiety and those with panic disorders (Paluska & Schwenk, 2000). With the rise in affected people by mental illness, and the growing stigma surrounding the topic, it is evident that the impact created by mental health is huge. The goal should now be to enhance the promotion of mental fitness and ensure that producing a healthy body can also help produce a healthy mind.

[edit] History

Mental health has developed significantly over history, for example, in the 1800's, mental health was considered mental hygiene. In 1843, William Sweetzer was the first man to use and discover the term mental hygiene. In 1893, Isaac Ray discovered a definition of the mental hygiene as "the art of preserving the mind against all incidents and influences calculated to deteriorate its qualities, impair its energies, or derange its movements. The management of the bodily powers in regard to exercise, rest, food, clothing and climate, the laws of breeding, the government of the passions, the sympathy with current emotions and opinions, the discipline of the intellect- all these come within the province of mental hygiene" (Mandell, 2014).

In history, especially over the last few decades, there has been a large increase in research proving the impact exercise has on mental health. The research over history include physical activity's treatment on mental health and how it improves mental well-being (Fox, 1999). Proved by historic studies, physical activity plays a significant role in maintaining positive mental health or managing mental health diseases. Studies show people who suffer from mental health diseases, including depression and anxiety, can benefit from physical activity. Physical activity has been used a treatment to those who suffer from mental illness. Physical activity provides many benefits to everyday human beings as well as those who suffer from a mental illness though using encouraging, and positive environments as well as the fun of sport. Exercise has been observed to show various increases in mood, physical literacy, sleep, endurance, energy and stamina, stress relief, as well as increased mental alertness (Sharma et al., 2006). Activities such as, aerobic exercise and strength training has been proved to reduce the symptoms of depression and other mental illnesses. From historic studies, it is evident that anxiety symptoms and panic disorders also benefit from physical activity. Physical activity has the same benefits equal to meditation and relaxation. Partaking in physical activity relaxes the mind and reduces stress levels. Physical activity has been proved to benefit most populations, but some populations have been limited such as adults and adolescents. Many different psychological and physiological mechanisms have been used to prove the influence physical activity has on mental health. Controlled and accurate studies from the past were needed to illustrate the benefits of physical activity on mental health (Paluska & Schwenk, 2000).

[edit] Target Audience

[edit] Adolescent Youth

The main target audience for the promotion of mental health is youth and teens ranging from ages of 14 to 24. Within this age group, many teens and young adults progress through the stages of puberty, which have an increased effect on the way, their body and minds function which ultimately effect their biological and more importantly, their psychological behavior. During this age many individuals are faced with choices, which can have a tremendous effect on how they live the rest of their lives. Adolescents also fall victim to many different types of stress due to media, school, family and work that have a big role in the way they think and process on a psychological level. The CAMH (Centre for Addiction and Mental Health) states that up to 70% of mental illness is developed during the onset of childhood and adolescence.By educating those in early adolescent stages of life we can further prevent the spread of mental illness and encourage those who may show symptoms that they are not alone and should consult a peer or family member.

[edit] Socio-Economic Status

Studies also show that those in lower socio-economic living status are up to 3 times more likely to develop or show signs of mental disorder. With poor financial income it can be hard to access the right treatment or medical attention necessary to help treat a mental illness.This has proved to be the main reason why 20-67% of homeless people report having some sort of mental illness (mainly substance abuse) due to the lack of access to the right resources such as a psychiatrist or even another family member.

[edit] Gender

Different disorders can also be targeted to different genders. Males appear to be more subject to addiction (mainly alcohol and substance abuse), where as females on the other hand are more likely to suffer from mood and anxiety disordered (Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, 2012). By addressing genders based on attributed disorders, people can become more informed about mental illnesses that may apply to their gender. Although it is important to still keep in mind that these disorders may occur in any individual no matter what their sexuality and that theses assumptions are only based on a general trend in society.

[edit] Research

[edit] Bipolar Disorder

The way that physical actity has an effect on the bipolar disorder is that people with this ilness usually tend to gain a lot of weight from it and they usually tend to do nothing about it because their moods change so much from positive to negative so there is no point of doing anything anyways. In contrast physical activity or excercise can help maintain a healthy weight and also because the person is loosing weight it tends to help in their overall apperrance which results in improving their mood and sel-esteem making them happier and healthier (Krans, 2012).

[edit] Depression

Physical activity has been seen to both have negative and positive effects on people with depression. The way that this is proven is by how when higher levels of phsical activity are being placed on a individual with depession (ex. a run) the person results in better mood and comes out of their depression because of the the high intense activity they have done. On the other hand where low levels of activiy are placed on an individual (ex. a walk) they stay in that state of depression because they are not triggered to be doing any igh sort of activity that benefits them in any way (Kratz, 2014).

[edit] Anxiety

People with anxiety tend to worry about things that might happen to them if they decide to choose certain things. The way physical activity plays an effect on someone with anxiety is that the type of activity/exercise they are performing allows their minds to become free and also allows them to enjoy the activity and take their mind of worrying and show them that physical activity can improve their mind set on life. Besides taking their mind off worrying the most important part is to motivate the individual with anxiety in a way that both benefits them in the short-term and long-term because it will give them the opportunity to enjoy life through physical activity (Cox, 2013).

[edit] Psychosis

Physical activity plays a huge role in people that suffer from the mental illness of psychosis. People with psychosis ultimately need the ability to return to reality in terms that their mind will be able to function properly once again (Taylor, 1985). The role that physical activity plays is that it reduces symptoms of psychosis while the individual is performing the activity/exercise. It also benefits the person in how they regain their self-image like in the way that portray themselves in public, improving in their social skills with basic relationships with friends and family, and the most important part that physical activity does to psychosis people is that it allows them to build up their cognitive learning skills and transfer that into real life situations (Taylor, 1985).

[edit] Eating Disorder

Physical activity usually benefits positive to mental health and mental illnesses, but for eating disorders it does the complete opposite and basically make it even worse then it already is. When physical activity is placed upon an individual that is encountering a eating disorder for example anorexia it is seen to be a symptom and a cause of the illness. Excessive and intense vigorous physical activity leads to and worsens the case of anorexia to a point where it is in an unstable condition to live. Physical activity is very dangerous to people with eating disorders and should first get them to restore their health and then allow them to participate in physical functions after they have got back to normal health conditions (Beumont, 1994).

[edit] Existing Physical Activity Programs

[edit] InShape

InShape is a program developed by Monadnock Family Services in Keene, NH for those over the age of 18 with a severe mental illness. The program stands for Self Action Plan for Enlightenment and uses physical activity as well as proper nutrition to help those with mental illness to achieve a better sense of well-being and increase their levels of mental fitness. InShape provides participants with a health mentor that will incorporate achievable fitness and nutrition goals as well as aiding in rehabilitation. Weekly meetings are also set up with mentors and participants to monitor goal progression and help motivate. Vouchers to fitness facilities such as the YMCA are also handed out to help promote social inclusion as well as continuing to encourage physical activity as treatment for those with a mental illness (Jue, 2009).

Those eligible for the program must be at least 18 years of age and be coping with a serious mental illness. In order to enrol in the program, participants must obtain clearance from their physician as well as paying a very affordable $5.00 per month membership. InShape currently operates with approximately 150 individuals as well as another 50 people remaining on a waiting list (Jue, 2009).

Results showed that average hours of exercise per week increased from 2.7 hrs to 4.1 hours. The program also reduced depression levels from 28.5 to 26.3, increased mental well being from 34.1 to 36.9 and participants displayed signs of larger confidence levels as well as a increased sense or normalcy (Jue, 2009).

For more information visit

[edit] Healthy U

An existing physical activity program is called Healthy U. This program benefits children by improving their mental health with outdoor physical activity. This program allows people to be active outdoor to make sure they improve or maintain good mental health (Physical Activity and Mental Health, 2013).

Physical activity is a great way to maintain physical and mental health. There are a number of activities participated outdoors including: gardening, hiking, and playing sports outside. Evidence illustrates that going outside and getting exercise is beneficial for an individuals psychological well-being over a long term and a short term (Physical Activity and Mental Health, 2013).

Good mental health is made up of an individuals self esteem and psychological well-being, including an individuals sleeping pattern and their daily mood. Physical activity is proved to improve all of the above based on the certain individual. This program encourages people to partake in physical activity to practice good mental health and to deal with stress (Physical Activity and Mental Health, 2013).

For more information visit

[edit] Minding Our Bodies

The activity program Minding Our Bodies has been a multi-year program (2008-2013) that deals with helping to increase room within the community of mental health in Ontario by promoting physical activity and healthy eating towards those with serious mental illness(Welcome to Minding Our Bodies, 2014).

This provincial mental and physical program has served as a "breeding place" to help mental health service providers in Ontario, with the help of community partners, develop and deliver evidence based physical activity and healthy eating programs such as healthy lifestyles ranging from nutrition and diet to incorporating physical activity programs to benefit patients both on their health and active components of their bodies, also to improve access to local resources, and promote social inclusion (Welcome to Minding Our Bodies, 2014).

Minding our bodies has became the initiative of the Canadian Mental Health Association, in partnership with Echo: Improving Women's health in Ontario, Mood Disorders Association of Ontario, Nutrition Resource Centre, YMCA Ontario, and York University's Faculty of Health with support from the Ontario Ministry of Health Promotion and Sport (Welcome to Minding Our Bodies, 2014).

For more information on the project of Minding Our Bodies visit

[edit] DPA

DPA, which stands for Daily Physical Activity, is a program which has been implemented in school boards across Canada and requires each student from grades 1-8, including those with special needs, to participate in at least 20 min of physical activity daily in either their classroom, gym, or outdoor space with the help of an instructor or teacher. This program was first put into action in Ontario on October 5th, 2005 by Education Minister Gerard Kennedy and was later followed up with a policy/program including the initiatives of the program. With the help of Ontario Physical and Health Education Association, the government of Ontario was able to create 3 separate programs for each of the three groups of grades; juniors (gr. 1-3), intermediates (gr. 4-6), and seniors (gr. 7-8) (Daily Physical Activity in Schools, 2006).

The goal of this program is to improve the overall wellness of all individuals, both mentally and physically, as well as increase the students learning opportunities. Even though student may not have a physical education class for every day of the week, during these days DPA activities must still need to be implemented either in the classroom or outside. All activities must also be adaptable to students with special needs and disabilities to ensure that all student receive an equal impact and benefits for physical activity. These sessions may very in intensity and in length depending on how far along in the program each class or group of individuals are (Daily Physical Activity in Schools, 2006).

By ensuring that students are participating in at least 20 minutes of daily physical activity, the school board is having a positive impact on the students physical, mental, and social well being. Physical activity, according to research, has been shown to improve student ability to devote time to assignment, increased academic achievement, and increase productivity and creativity. Students are also effected mentally by developing relationships with other students and teacher increasing self-esteem and behaviour. Developing a sense of self-esteem and inclusion can also aid in improving the students sense of belonging in the school environment and encourage future participation in events and a sense of connection. By developing positive habits at a young age, students are then encouraged to continue to strive and engage in a healthy life style in continuing years that will contribute to a sense of accomplishment, well being, and satisfaction (Daily Physical Activity in Schools, 2006).

For more information visit

[edit] ParticipACTION

Participaction, created in 1971, is a program that is dedicated to voicing the importance of physical activity and sport participation in Canada. (Participaction, 2013) Sport, having multiple studies been done, shows to have a positive correlation between good mental health in individuals. The program was reinstated in 2007 due to the fear of increasing obesity rates because of the inactivity in Canada. To help increase the awareness of sport, this non-profit organization works with partners such as recreation organizations plus government and corporate sponsors. (Participaction, 2013) Goals of participaction include making fitness a second nature as opposed to a chore and to provide a high standard of efficiency. Participation is for all ages which is exceptional for the elderly as fitness helps increase physical and mental health. (Participaction, 2013).

For more information visit

[edit] Best Practice Activity Suggestions

[edit] Yoga

Yoga is the act which individuals perform to achieve better health and relaxation. The key components to yoga are breath control, simple meditation, and specific bodily postures. The mental benefits that come from yoga are mental calmness, stress reduction, and body awareness. (Pizer, 2013) Mental calmness is when the individual is concentrating so hard on what the body is doing that the mind receives stress relief. Body awareness is the increasing comfort an individual has in their own body, this leads to better self-confidence. (Pizer, 2013)

[edit] Green Exercise

Green Exercise is the participation in physical activity in green spaces. (Barton, 2014) Being in the outdoor environment when participating in a variety of nature therapies and activities provides additional benefit in mental factors such as self-esteem, reducing anger, confusion and tension. Physiological improvement such as lower blood pressure come with activity participation. (Barton, 2014) Exercising outside provides therapeutic properties which provide help for those mentally sick. Green exercise is simple and can easily be an everyday objective as parking your car five to ten minutes away and walking that extra distance to the grocery is considered green exercise. (Barton, 2014) Activities that green exercise incorporates are walking, cycling, running, and anything that gets the individual active at least 5-10+ minutes. (Barton, 2014)

[edit] Cross the Volcano

Cross the volcano is an activity that can be played in small groups to bring about the importance of inclusion. The game is played by having around four to eight individuals on one team whom are provided with a variety of equipment. (Wray, 2012) The equipment can be improvised but the objective is to get from one side of the playing field, with all of the equipment, to the other without stepping or falling into the pretend lava. This game is just one of many that are beneficial to the youth for skill development factors such as problem solving. (Wray, 2012) By limiting the amount of participants on each team, this requires the contribution of each member for the team to be successful. By including everyone, no one is left out, thus diminishing any shyness, anxiety, or other mental struggles possessed by individuals that have trouble speaking and voicing their opinion in groups.

[edit] Meditation

Meditation is the practice of transforming the mind into a deep peace by remaining calm and silent. Meditation has physical and mental components which together create the overall state of peace. (Shaw, 2008) The physical benefits include slower respiration to perform longer duration breaths, improved immune system by slowing the production of cortisol (stress hormone), and an overall relaxed muscular state from the stimulation of the peripheral nervous system. (Shaw, 2008) The mental benefits include proper decision making, decreased anxiety and depression, and better control of your own thoughts. Meditation is said to be commonly used to treat mental health disorders and addiction. (Shaw, 2008)

[edit] Tai Chi

Tai Chi is a form of martial arts that over the years has shown considerable influence in the benefit towards the reduction of anxiety and stress. (Nordqvist, 2013) There are five styles of Tai Chi which differentiate in their procedures and principles such as Chen-style, Yang-style, Wu (Hao)-style, Wu-style, and Sun-style. (Nordqvist, 2013) Tai Chi does not place much stress on muscles and joints which makes it available to all ages. Tai Chi is not expensive because of the lack of equipment required and it can be practised alone or in groups which allows for inclusion. Some notable illnesses that have been positvely influenced by the ways of Tai Chi are Parkinson's disease, chronic heart failure, fibromyalgia, diabetes, and depression. (Nordqvist, 2013)

[edit] Future Directions

"Counseling American Minorities: A Cross-Cultural Perspective" is a book that has three recommendations for future directions. This book deals with the the ethnic minority clients. The first recommendation is to sensitize counselors to the life experiences of African Americans, American Indian, Asian American and Hispanic American clients. Secondly, this book looks at how counselling has failed in the past and how it continues to still short chnage the mental health needs of ethic minority clients. Lastly, mental health counselors need to discover new directions on counselling ethnic minority clients (Atkinson et al., 1998)

Many young people, especially young males, do not feel the need to seek help if suffering from mental illness. A future recommendation is to promote and to guide young people to seek help to cure their mental illness (Rickwood et al., 2005).

[edit] External Links

The Relation of Physical Activity and Mental Health (Taylor et al.1985)

Farm-Link (Perceval et al., 2011).,6,6;journal,10,39;linkingpublicationresults,1:110908,1

Physical activity and mental health in schoolchildren (Lagerberg, 2005).

Causes of mental illness (WebMD, 2012).

Chronic Illness, Disability, and Mental and Social Well-Being: Findings of the Ontario Child Health Study (Chadmenet al, 1987)

[edit] Notes and References

(2006). Healthy Schools - Daily Physical Activity in Schools. Ontario Ministry of Education. Web. Wed, March 19, 2014. <>

(2012). Canadian Community Health Survey – Mental Health. Statistics Canada. Web. Sat, March 15, 2014. <>

(2012). Mental Illness and Adiction Statistics. Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, 2012. Web. Sat, March 12, 2014. <>

(2013). Physical Activity and Mental Health. Healthy Alberta. Web. March 17, 2014. <>

(2014). Minding Our Bodies healthy eating and physical activity for mental health. <

Atkinson, D. R., Morten, G. E., & Sue, D. W. E. (1998). Counseling American minorities . McGraw-Hill.

Barton, Jo. (2014). The Benefits of Green Exercise. Web. March 20, 2014. <>

Beumont, P. V., Arthur, B., Russell, J. D., & Touyz, S. W. (1994). Excessive Physical Activity in Dieting Disorder Patients: Proposals for a Supervised Exercise Program. International Journal Of Eating Disorders, 15(1), 21-36.

Cox, A. E., Ullrich-French, S., & Sabiston, C. M. (2013). Using motivation regulations in a person-centered approach to examine the link between social physique anxiety in physical education and physical activity-related outcomes in adolescents. Psychology Of Sport & Exercise, 14(4), 461-467.

Chademn, D., Boyle, M., Szatmari, P., Offord, D.R. (1987). Chronic Illness, Disability, and Mental and Social Well-Being: Findings of the Ontario Child Health Study. Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, 79(5), 805-813.

Fox, K. (1999). The influence of physical activity on mental well-being. Public Health Nutrition, 2(3A), 411-418.

Jue, K. (2009). Exercise and Nutrition Program Helps Individuals With Serious Mental Illness Develop Healthier Lifestyles, Improve Fitness and Mental Well-Being. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Web. March 17, 2014. <>

Krans, B. (2012). How Exercise Can Help Bipolar Disorder. Web. January 12, 2012. <

Kratz, A. L., Ehde, D. M., & Bombardier, C. H. (2014). Affective mediators of a physical activity intervention for depression in multiple sclerosis. Rehabilitation Psychology, 59(1), 57-67. doi:10.1037/a0035287

Lagerberg, D. (2005). Physical activity and mental health in schoolchildren: A complicated relationship. Acta Paediatrica, 94(12), 1699-1701. doi:10.1080/08035250500369627

Mandell, W. (2014). The Realization of an Idea. Web. 2014. <

Nordqvist, J. (2013). What is Tai Chi? What are the health benefits of Tai Chi?. Web. 2014. <>

Paluska, S.A., Schwenk, T.L. (2000). Physical Activity and Mental Health. Sports Medicine. Print.29(3), 167-180.

Participaction. (2013). Getting Active is Good For You. Web. March 14, 2014. <>

Perceval, M. M., Fuller, J. J., & Holley, A. M. (2011). Farm-Link. International Journal Of Mental Health, 40(2), 88-110.

Pizer, A. (2013). Benefits of Yoga. Web. March 13, 2014. <>

Rickwood, D., Deane, F. P., Wilson, C. J., & Ciarrochi, J. (2005). Young people's help-seeking for mental health problems. Advances in Mental Health, 4(3), 218-251.

Sharma, A., Madaan, V., & Petty, F. (2006). Exercise for mental health. Primary Care Companion To The Journal Of Clinical Psychiatry, 8(2), 106.

Shaw, B. (2008). Meditation provides physical, mental, and emotional benefits. Web. 2014. <>

Taylor, C., Sallis, J., & Needle, R. (1985). The relation of physical activity and exercise to mental health. Public Health Reports (Washington, D.C.: 1974), 100(2), 195-202.

Wray, A. (2012). Antigua: Unity Games Run Through. Web. 2014. <>

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