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Heartland Behavioral Health Services- Mental & Physical Health- October 15, 2013

Alyson Harder talks about the link between mental health and physical health.
Mental health is essential to a person’s well-being, healthy family and interpersonal relationships, and the ability to live a full and productive life.
People, including children and adolescents, with untreated mental health disorders are at high risk for many physical health disorders, as well.

The burden of mental illness in the United States is among the highest of all diseases, and mental disorders are among the most common causes of disability.

Recent figures suggest that, approximately 1 in 4 adults in the United States had a mental health disorder in the past year—most commonly anxiety or depression—and 1 in 17 had a serious mental illness.
Mental health disorders also affect children and adolescents at an increasingly alarming rate; 1 in 5
children in the United States had a mental health disorder,

Mental health and physical health are intricately linked.

Evidence has shown that mental health disorders—most often depression—are strongly associated with
serious chronic diseases and health conditions, including diabetes, hypertension, stroke, heart disease, and
cancer.

This association appears to be caused by mental health disorders that precede chronic disease; chronic
disease can intensify the symptoms of mental health disorders—in effect creating a cycle of poor health. This cycle decreases a person’s ability to participate in the treatment of and recovery from mental health disorders and chronic disease.

Childhood obesity has become largely categorized as an epidemic in this country

Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and tripled in adolescents in the past 30 years.

Obese youth are more likely to have risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure.

Obese adolescents are more likely to have prediabetes and Type II Diabetes.

Children and adolescents who are obese are at greater risk social and psychological problems such as
stigmatization and poor self-esteem

The poor physical health of individuals in rural communities often adversely affects their mental health.

Along with a growing decline in physical health, a study in 2010 found the number of rural children
with mental health and behavioral problems has increased. This has a significant impact on rural families

Individuals who live in rural areas and have a mental health disorder are less likely to receive any
treatment.

In rural areas transportation has often limited individuals in seeking/obtaining treatment, access to free exercise-related trails, parks, YMCA’s, etc

Rural women and children are more likely to be affected by depression and generalized anxiety disorder,
than members of more urban populations


Fortunately, with education and access to services, a number of mental health disorders can be treated effectively. In addition, in communities where there is a focus and collaboration on health and mental health, outcomes for children and adults living in these communities can be impacted on a positively.

Therefore, efforts are underway to reduce the burden of death and disability caused by chronic disease in the United States while at the same time, improving mental health nationwide.  The collaborative approach to health and wellness is critical to improving the health of all Americans.

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