News • 04 Oct 2019

How mental health affects physical health and vice versa

Ahead of this years’ World Mental Health Day and Queensland Mental Health Week, Open Minds has taken a look at how mental health affects our physical health and vice versa. There’s a clear link between our minds and our bodies, and if one declines, the other can be impacted.

Understanding the links between mind and body health is the first step towards improving health both mentally and physically.

Poor mental health can make every day tasks more difficult, such as engaging in physical activity, making wise food choices, and making and maintaining friendships. 

Poor mental health can also impact decision making, the way a person sees themselves and the world around them.

Mental illness can cause challenges around gaining motivation to change behaviours and lifestyle.

Conversely, having poor physical health can put a person at risk of developing a mental illness.

Physical activity, in particular, can boost mental health through the release and uptake of endorphins (feel-good chemicals) in the brain.

If poor physical health results in a person not being able to upkeep their usual level of exercise, this means they are no longer getting their usual dose of endorphins.

Even a short brisk walk can improve mental alertness, energy levels and mood, and being unable to undertake this due to physical illness is going to impact the mental health and wellbeing of that person too.

Jae Eng, Centre manager at the Open Minds Mental Health Hub at Morayfield said: “Neglecting your mental health can put you at greater risk of developing a chronic health condition such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, a weakened immune system and gastronomical problems, to name just a few. 

“Depression alone can cause chronic fatigue, insomnia and increased sensitivity to aches and pains due to abnormal function of neurotransmitters in the brain.”

Lifestyle factors can play a big part in both mental and physical health, these factors include:

  • How much physical activity a person gets
  • What a person chooses to eat in their diet
  • The quality of sleep a person experiences
  • Whether a person takes drugs, consumes alcohol or smokes
  • Employment and education

Achieving optimal mental and physical health involves achieving a balance across these factors.

According to the World Health Organisation, factors such as where we live, our environment, genetics, income and education level, and our relationships with friends and family all have considerable impacts on health all round.

How can we optimise both mental health and physical health?

Rather than looking at the two separately, it’s important to realise that the two are fundamentally linked.

Jae said: “A collaborative approach to addressing the impacts of poor mental and physical health is needed to achieve the greatest outcomes. 

“If you do have a chronic health condition, you may qualify for treatment under a Chronic Disease Management Plan which gives you access to up to five Medicare rebated sessions per calendar year to engage with a range of allied health professionals including podiatrists, mental health worker, physiologists, dietitians and so forth.”

About the Open Minds Mental Health Hub

The Open Minds Mental Health Hub provides confidential counselling and psychological services for people of all ages, including children. With a team of 12 allied mental health professionals, the centre supports people who are experiencing depression, anxiety, and other mental health concerns. The centre is situated within the Health Hub Morayfield on Level 1. Find out more or book an appointment here.

About the Health Hub Morayfield

The Health Hub Morayfield introduces a new model of healthcare into Australia. It brings integrated health, education and research services together in one centre to ensure easy access to affordable healthcare and support facilities; improving health outcomes through the delivery of person centred care. The hub is situated at 19 – 31 Dickson Road, Morayfield, QLD, 4506. Find out more about the Hub here.

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