“We need to bring mental health into the light.” - Lady Gaga
Being diagnosed with a mental health disorder all too often leads individuals to harboring intense feelings of shame and distress. Yet ironically, mental illness is one of the most common health conditions in the United States today!
Studies indicate that more than half of all Americans will be diagnosed with a mental illness in their lifetime and that roughly 20% experience mental illness in a given year. Mental illness is certainly not something to be ashamed of.
Sadly, there remains a stigma surrounding mental health which all too often keeps those who are suffering from seeking professional help. According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), this alarming reality happens more than half of the time. Currently, the number of people who are reporting symptoms of anxiety, depression, stress, substance abuse and suicidal thoughts has nearly doubled since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
Our world needs more compassion and more resources for those suffering from mental health disorders. Fortunately there is good news. Long ago, an effective treatment that truly helps battle these hidden afflictions was discovered: exercise!
Does Exercise Really Work?
Why yes, in fact it does! Exercise has been scientifically proven to boost your mood and lower symptoms of both depression and anxiety. When you’re physically active, the endorphin levels in your body increase and natural feelings of happiness and joy are produced. Interestingly, exercise also supports nerve cell growth in the hippocampus. This incredible process, all thanks to exercise, helps relieve depression through improving nerve cell connections.
There is also evidence that exercise helps our minds learn how to cope better with stress overall. In a recent study, researchers discovered that individuals who consistently participated in a vigorous exercise program were 25 percent less likely to develop depression or an anxiety disorder over the next five years. Exercise even lowers your chances for developing dementia due to the increased blood flow throughout your body. Powerful results!
Doctors frequently recommend an exercise program to address mental health disorders before resorting to prescribing medications. This sage advice is commonly shared amongst trainers and countless celebrities as well.
Lena Dunham, has publicly praised the power of exercise on her Instagram account: “To those struggling with anxiety, OCD, depression: I know it’s mad annoying when people tell you to exercise, and it took me about 16 medicated years to listen. I’m glad I did. It ain’t about the ass, it’s about the brain.”
Kelly Ripa once said “I like what [exercise] does for my mind. If I’ve had a bad day, if I’m feeling stressed out, if I’m feeling overwhelmed — it takes it all away. It’s my antidote for everything. If I feel any sort of emotional upheaval, I go for a jog and I feel better.”
All too often, we only acknowledge the physical benefits of exercise. Our goals tend to be focused on things like getting that beach bod or losing 10 more pounds. This perspective is so misguided! What if we started to view those things as secondary benefits? Can you imagine what might happen if we recognized that the true power of exercise is its direct correlation to our happiness? Because the truth is, when it comes to mental health, there is no medication as effective as exercise.
Mental Health in the Workplace
Since the pandemic began, nearly half of American workers have reported they are suffering from mental health issues. This reality has only amplified an already critical employee mental health crisis. Your employee’s well-being is at stake and it’s time to take a proactive approach to inspiring healthy habits and building a sense of community.
Exercise primes us to connect with others and it expands our capacity for joy. When exercise becomes part of your company culture, friendships will develop naturally and finding a sense of community at work makes your employees seven times more likely to be engaged in their jobs.
When an organization prioritizes the mental health of their workforce through incorporating wellness into their company culture, everyone wins. When aimed at prevention, programs like Peerfit are infectious; they help build community and create an environment your workforce wants to be a part of.
You already know your employees are your greatest assets. Are you ready to provide your team with wellness programs that help prevent and treat mental illness? Reach out through our form below to start a conversation today.