For Prevention and Mental Wellness
By David L. Shern, Ph.D., president and CEO, Mental Health America
Prevention and wellness are receiving greater attention these days as essential components of our health care system. They don't just apply to reducing to the risk of heart disease or other illnesses. We also know that we can promote good mental health and prevent conditions or at least reduce their severity.
There is a solid science base to promote mentally healthy lives. As a recent report by the National Research Council and Institute of Medicine indicates, school-based and other programs have effectively reduced mental health, substance abuse and behavioral problems among youth. Early intervention programs can stop or contain mental health conditions before they start. Now we need to incorporate the science of prevention into everyday health care practice.
We also need to promote mental wellness and use science-based approaches that can protect mental health and improve mental well-being.
What is mental wellness? It's a healthy balance of the mind, body and spirit that results in overall well-being. Wellness is a concept that applies to keeping healthy as well as getting healthy. It involves designing personal strategies and work, school and home environments that promote belonging, opportunities to contribute and to receive help and support when needed.
Wellness is more than an absence of disease. It involves complete general, mental and social well-being. It helps people cope with the threats and challenges that put our mental health at risk.
Mental wellness also builds resilience through protective factors that keep people well in the face of threats to their health. Mental wellness allows one to cope and deal well with daily life and the challenges it brings-at home, work and in life.
To help all people achieve mental wellness, we launched Live Your Life WellSM, which provides 10 evidence-based tools to combat stress and promote individual resiliency during major life changes or times of stress. They can help you relax, grow and flourish. You can learn more about these tools at www.liveyourlifewell.org.
In these times, protecting and strengthening our ‘mental health' and promoting wellness couldn't be more important. Every day, Mental Health America is working to help all Americans to live mentally healthier lives.
At our Centennial Conference held in Washington last month, we looked at the challenges and opportunities for promoting prevention and mental wellness and how we can make them essential components of our health care system.
This link will take you to C-SPAN'S website where you can view highlights of the Conference, which featured such speakers as Mrs. Tipper Gore, George Stephanopoulos, former House Majority Leader Richard Gephardt, and leading researchers and advocates in the mental health field.