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Health week. Friday April 1, 2016

Many countries have a Mental Health Week, and last year I was involved by sharing my story on a website and being interviewed on a local radio's breakfast show. These weeks are helpful in raising awareness, providing information and reducing stigma.

Of course, if you live with a mental illness you have had it for 52 weeks of the year not just for one week, as with any illness that has its own day or week for promoting understanding.

I feel that dividing health into physical and mental creates a division that leads to shame and unfair allocation of resources. Research has shown that mental illness leads to or can be caused by physical illness and physical illness can lead to mental illness, so much overlapping.

I think having a health week or month, when the focus is on our overall health like the old saying a healthy mind in a healthy body.

When depression anxiety and other mental health issues are isolated, it can lead to people feeling they do not belong.

Imagine if depression and other illnesses weren't separated into a mental health issue. Research would look at all areas of illness, people would not feel they were different because their illness affected their brain and thought process and not their heart or liver. Everyone would benefit as people would be treated as a whole and not fragmented into body parts. Researchers would share their knowledge.

What do you think? Maybe you disagree and you think this idea would not be helpful. Maybe you agree, maybe you have another idea. Please share any thoughts as I think this is an important discussion and I would be so interested to read all your comments.

A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

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Debs Fri, Apr 1st 2016 @ 7:34am

Great blog Leah. It always surprises me that 'mind' and 'body' are still treated separately in modern medicine - there is no division between them and depression is as much about what's happening in the gut as it is in the head. So, yes I agree with you that there should be no division between so-called mental and physical health. I do think though that weeks dedicated to specific conditions (such as depression) are a good idea because they focus clearly on one particular issue that our media can latch onto and investigate/promote/shine a light on.

Do you still have the 'Are you ok?' day in Oz? I always thought that was a great idea and would love to bring it to the UK. Xxx

Leah Fri, Apr 1st 2016 @ 7:51am

Thank Debs for your reply. Yes we still have R u OK day in Oz. gets bigger each year.

Di Fri, Apr 1st 2016 @ 7:35am

HiLeah, I completely agree with you. I think the mind can cause physical health and vice versa. Prior to being diagnosed with anxiety depression my body was displaying many physical symptoms, which have now resolved. I can use my body to help me identify when my mood is slipping. I also observe people with physical illnesses who do well if their mindset is good and vice versa. So I am 100% with you on this one.

Leah Fri, Apr 1st 2016 @ 7:52am

Thanks for your comments Di, hope people in authority catch on.

Hopeful One Fri, Apr 1st 2016 @ 8:03am

Hi Leah- I say "hear hear". The sooner we can get rid of this distinction and regard both mental and physical dysfunction on equal terms the greater the chance of progress in solving the malfunctions that affect both where one must say mental dysfunction lags considerably.

Today I have to pay homage to Ronnie Corbett who sadly passed away and who so enhanced our lives with his humour. Here is a selection of his one liners.

George Trimble,Blackpool's longest serving deck chair attendant was better tonight after collapsing at work.It took 5 people 40 minutes to work out how to get him up again.

A man who threw his mother-in- law into the crocodile pool at the London Zoo has been prosecuted by the RSPCA.

As a young man I danced several leads for the Hibernian and Strathclyde Amateur Bowls and Ballet Society until an unfortunate accident with a rather restrictive jock strap put an end to a promising career. I went from Sugarplum fairy to Nutcracker in one ill judged leap.

There was some good news for the bugler who fell into a combine harvester while on the run last week.His family said he would soon be out on bale.

LillyPet Fri, Apr 1st 2016 @ 8:13am

What a sad loss, such a funny guy. I laughed at the deckchar and with guilty pleasure at the mother-in- law jokes. Thanks for the tribute H and for brightening my days! LP :)

Leah Fri, Apr 1st 2016 @ 12:01pm

Vale Ronnie Corbett-what a gentleman who could make fun of himself and make others laugh with him. What a talent.

Leah Fri, Apr 1st 2016 @ 12:02pm

Hopeful One, Thanks for your kind words and your great one lines from the late and great Ronnie Corbett.

LillyPet Fri, Apr 1st 2016 @ 8:05am

Morning Leah :)
I agree, with you!
I've never questioned why there's such a huge division before, but yes, a holistic approach would be far more effective. It happens in the education system for children with additional needs, but gets lost in the adult world. Some other cultures seem to be better at seeing mind and body as a whole, I'm thinking of Tai Chi and Yoga.
The way the health system is set up in the UK, it's all about minimising cost.
As a community we're very good at looking at the links between what is going on for us physically and our emotional wellbeing. We do that bit for ourselves. I'm all for removing the artificial barrier and the old historical stigma that goes with it.

The recent interest in mindfullnes brings everything together quite nicely! Being aware of the present moment, doing a body scan to be aware of what we can feel, observing our breathing and keeping our mind in the present moment is very healing for body and mind. Perhaps it's only a matter of time before the financial saving that would be made if the two were brought together is realised!
Today I feel ok, a bit achy, drowsy, tense muscles (clenched jaw which I keep having to release every time I realise I'm doing it!). Am glad it's Friday and up for taking on the day!

Thanks for a really refreshing blog Leah. Well wishes to all :) LP xx

Leah Fri, Apr 1st 2016 @ 12:04pm

Lilypet, Thanks for your insightful post. I think other cultures seem to have a better grasp of combining mind and body in a holistic way.

Samantha Fri, Apr 1st 2016 @ 9:16am

I agree Leah, mental and physical health are not treated equitably yet without good mental health it's hard to be physically healthy. For me my physical health has a huge impact on my emotional status and vice versa and whenever I go to a doctor with a visable physical ailment, be it a swollen joint or acne for example, they will ask - do you think it's your depression returning. In one way I get that they acknowledge the link but in another I think they'd like to put any condition down to depression.
I think that anything that brings mental health into the 'limelight' is good so I welcome any awareness days or media coverage of mental health issues. But I don't believe many people go into work and say 'hey it's my day today, national depressive day', after all depression is depressing. I think having a wellness day, a wellbeing day, an are you OK day would not only bring it to the media's attention but get people talking about how they are in a wider sense. So for example when asked if they are OK someone may say they're OK but they have put on a lot of weight in the last year and they don't feel good about it, this could lead to discussion about reasons behind this and underlying emotional needs could emerge.
In reality it would work great with health enablers like this community but others may not be equipped to encourage, cope or care about this kind of conversation but it would still be more helpful that the mental health days as people generally feel less able to dive right in and discuss mental health. So yes I agree that the focus should be on us as whole beings, looking at our emotional, physical, mental and spiritual needs.
A thought provoking blog Leah, I'd back a plan for an alternative awareness week.

Leah Fri, Apr 1st 2016 @ 12:06pm

Samantha, I like the idea for an alternative awareness week, as long as we are clear what we are alternative to.

Denise Fri, Apr 1st 2016 @ 9:41am

I have never replied to a post before (though I enjoy reading them), but this one struck a particular cord as I work in the health care sector. I agree the divisions between mental and physical illnesses is unhelpful to all those involved (including health care staff themselves)....definitely one important way forward is to include more mental health and mental illness training for all health professionals.
Another issue may be the focus on cure - which surely limits the capacity to see the day to day management of a condition as a successful strategy - and applies equally to both mental and physical health. Avoiding health crisis may be a more realistic goal...being aware of warning signs and symptoms - and knowing when to seek help and advice.
But this also got me thinking about how I 'manage' myself....Personally I enjoy keeping physically fit and I know what I need to do to achieve the goals I set, and I do this with consistency and a fair amount of success - but I am far less confident with my ability to maintain my mental health - because it does not (yet?) feel under my control. I wonder if others may feel like that about physical health? My dilemma then - is if I view my 'health' as two distinct entities how do we start to unify them within health services?

Leah Fri, Apr 1st 2016 @ 12:07pm

Denise, Welcome and thanks for choosing my blog to be your first one you reply to. I hope it will be the first of many.You raise many interesting questions. I will need to ponder on an answer.

Skyblue Fri, Apr 1st 2016 @ 10:19am

Hi Leah. Yes! The annoying thing is that science has already discovered the link between brain and gut and there are some doctors who are now adopting this understanding and taking a holistic approach. I am reminded of once seeing two pictures side by of the brain and one of the gut...and laughing out loud because they were so similar. But mainstream thinking always lags behind and how, as Denise asks, do we start to unify the body/mind thing within the health services? It's so important that we all do our bit, however small, to get the knowledge out there not only so people can be healed quicker, but to avoid that horrid isolation that you mention. Eventually the stigma to mental illness will dissipate. I personally believe that the only perspective that works is a holistic one. My own depression has been greatly lifted by changing my diet, taking on more exercise, altering my thinking (with help)and adopting some new practises. Thanks Leah. This is a key issue. xx

Leah Fri, Apr 1st 2016 @ 12:08pm

SKyblue, Thanks for your interesting reply and some thoughtful points you ahve discussed.

Frankie Fri, Apr 1st 2016 @ 10:44am

Hi Leah; you are so right - the link between mental and physical well-being is key; in my experience of physiotherapy, this link is understood better by health professionals (I am in the UK) - in fact I mention this in a future blog. Thank-you. Frankie

Leah Fri, Apr 1st 2016 @ 12:09pm

FRankie, thanks for your post and I look forward to your future blog.

Ella Fri, Apr 1st 2016 @ 10:47am

Important issue, great post, thanks. Yes, of course I agree! It's a modern phenomenon to separate everything out (in many areas of life). Focussing in on detail can be important and useful but not at the expense of the overall. And surely by now most physicians know this? We know that depression leads to less physical activity AND vice versa. We know that mood affects oral intake across the full spectrum of amounts and nutritional/stressed/recreational choices. We know which foods affect mental health positively and which negatively. Our systems still mitigate against a holistic approach. But there is always hope for better through awareness raising, a willingness on our own part to remain open to new research and a desire to pursue habits which are kinder to ourselves.

Leah Fri, Apr 1st 2016 @ 12:11pm

Ella, Thanks for your reply. It is true that it is a modern trend to separate everything out so we can focu on detail but I think this can still be achieved in a holistic way.

Richard Fri, Apr 1st 2016 @ 11:40am

Leah. Thankyou for starting off a meaningful debate on Moodscope. Peace and Love, Richard.

Leah Fri, Apr 1st 2016 @ 12:12pm

Richard. Thanks for kind words.

The Gardener Fri, Apr 1st 2016 @ 6:11pm

Hello Leah - like the idea - at my age become a cynic. when I was a 'proper' journalist for a while in the 80's the holistic approach was hailed as THE way forward. Docs just don't have time to look 'through' the presentation of physical symptoms to see the often underlying mental problems, particularly depression. Now, in UK, they know there will not be funds or staff, nor time for what could be a long-standing problem.

Leah Fri, Apr 1st 2016 @ 9:35pm

Gardener, As usual you raise many pertinent issues. A theory can sound great on pper the hard part is putting it into practice.

The Gardener Fri, Apr 1st 2016 @ 6:18pm

This sounds priggish - but throughout ideas for 'drink' free weeks, 3 days one diet and three days another - a day starvation - crazy, often dangerous diets - I have stuck to one theory. Something of every sort of food, emphasis on fruit and veg, plenty of liquid, and lots of exercise - treats of course, good desserts and wine. None of our family have been overweight. That said, I am in danger of 'binge' drinking, sedatives and sleeping pills do me harm - and I have to have something to alleviat the increasing grimness of the state of affairs. It scares me, never been addicted to anything - now, can't wait to have a drink.

LillyPet Fri, Apr 1st 2016 @ 6:59pm

Your awareness is key TG. I havent been addicted to alcohol or anything unprescribed either and like you it worries me if I find myself looking forward to wine during a stressfull period. I've been prescribed anti depressants and changed from prozac to other ssris over the years, trying not to get to too high a dosage, but have not yet been at a secure enough place to think about cutting down. You've gone this far in your life without getting addicted to alcohol, your way of balancing a healthy lifestile without denying yourself treats has worked for you all this time, it'd be a shame to give up on it now. It'll only make things feel worse anyway. I totally get that feeling of needing to unwind after alot of stress and doing for others. Just as your gut feeling is telling you, keep it in check, cut back or whatever works for you. Big hug TG.LP xx

Leah Fri, Apr 1st 2016 @ 9:41pm

Gardener, I agree with Lillypet that your self awareness and also your honesty is so vital.People who are in danger of 'binge' drinking are normally not aware of it at all. I would feel silly offering any advice as you are the one with the wisdom and life experience. With your 'situation: I think most people would look forward to a drink. Thanks again for replying and sharing your thoughts as I know they will give us all something to think about. Hugs to you, but not koala hugs as they tend to wee when hugged!!! Leah xx

Leah Fri, Apr 1st 2016 @ 9:47pm

Lillypet, Your reply to TG was compassionate and very honest. It touched me.

Anonymous Fri, Apr 1st 2016 @ 7:11pm

Hello Leah. I have come late to the discussion today (more visitors!!) I have had very personal experience of this division of resources and attitudes to mental and physical health and it would take too long to tell you all here about how it badly affected me when I was working. So I think your idea of treating and considering all illness together as one is the best way forward. I am convinced of this. It is such an important issue. Thank you for raising this subject. Excellent Julxx

Leah Fri, Apr 1st 2016 @ 9:44pm

Jul, Thank you for thinking about my blog and responding. I too feel it is an important issue and I realised as others have written there are some practical issues before it can be implemented.Leah xx

Leah Fri, Apr 1st 2016 @ 9:50pm

I want to thanks everyone who has read my blog today. I appreciate that. I think it is important to discuss these issues as they affect our lives. I am always impressed by the quality of the comments and humble to think people have taken time to reply.
It is never too late to reply even days later as I always check to see if there are more comments. I am not sure if this makes me conscientious or vain!! Maybe both!! Thanks again, Leah

Eva Sat, Apr 2nd 2016 @ 12:17am

Not vain (-_-) thanks for a great discussion Leah, some really great points raised. I have an operation coming up and balancing the mental with the physical is foremost in my mind currently for the recovery period.

Leah Sat, Apr 2nd 2016 @ 12:47am

I hope all goes well for your operation, the balancing act and the recovery. Thanks for your kind words. take care,

Pennie-Lynn Sat, Apr 2nd 2016 @ 2:38am

I agree that separating mental and physical health is not helpful, but I don't understand why Mental Health Week or Mental Illness Awareness Week need to go. I am Canadian, so perhaps it is different here, but we have days and weeks for all different kinds of illnesses: heart and stroke, diabetes, cancer, etc. Different mental illness also have their own times of the year, such as Schizophrenia Awareness Day on May 24. Rather than separate mental health, I think it helps integrate us.

People do the Relay for Life race for cancer and then raise money for the Ride Don't Hide event for mental illness awareness. It reinforces the fact that having a mental illness isn't different from having cancer or MS.

Leah Sun, Apr 3rd 2016 @ 10:05pm

Pennie-Lynn, Thanks for your blog. I am In Australia and we have similar days in fat I think it is the same in many countries. I see your point about keeping separate weeks, my only worry was that people would focus on the one day or week and forget about the issues the rest of the time. I appreciate the time you took in replying.

Kaushal Sat, Apr 2nd 2016 @ 12:09pm

I am also agree with @Pennie-Lynn. All factors are important with the health. If anyone try to cure his disease with alopathy, homeopathy or herbal way or ayurvedic - some of them are sleep disorders example:-

All should be matters are count.
thanks for sharing your views Lynn

Leah Sun, Apr 3rd 2016 @ 10:06pm

Kaushal, Thanks for sharing your views and taking time to reply.

Kaushal Sat, Apr 2nd 2016 @ 12:10pm

I am also agree with @Pennie-Lynn. All factors are important with the health. If anyone try to cure his disease with alopathy, homeopathy or herbal way or ayurvedic - some of them are sleep disorders example:-

All should be matters are count.
thanks for sharing your views Lynn

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