May is mental health awareness month.
People diagnosed with the serious mental illness are at risk of dying 15 to 30 years earlier than the general population according to a 2006 study by Colton and Manderscheid.
Factors that can increase the risks are: Lack of physical exercise, low access or lower consumption of healthy foods, increased risky behavior including smoking, drug use and alcohol abuse.
Financial insecurity can lead to less access to healthcare, less access to affordable and healthy groceries, and less access to things such gym memberships, fitness equipment and gear and appropriate shoes. It can be a vicious cycle.
Physical exercise can reduce the risk of developing the mental illness, as well as helping alleviate symptoms in most diagnoses.
Steps to better mental wellness:
Consult your medical provider and/or mental health provider. Be sure to get clearance from the doctor before starting any exercise program.
Ask your mental health provider if they participate in the in “shape program.” It is a national program that helps patients with severe persistent mental illness implement fitness and nutrition into their lives to increase positive outcomes.
If you have insurance, call your health navigator and ask what mental wellness programs they cover and ask about benefits such as gym membership discount, reduced cost on fitness gear, points for tracking fitness, etc.
Some insurance programs will cover a dietitian to help with meal planning.
Ask local gyms about special rates, scholarships, or even a job there that includes access to the gym.
If the gym provides a trainer, take it advantage of this amenity and have them show you how to work out safely.
Find a friend, support greatly increases your odds of consistency and success.
Wishing you great health and prosperity.
Liz Jones is the owner of Liz Jones Wellness LLC, in Hunt and Rockwall counties, and is building Jones Wellness Ranch north of Greenville. She can be reached at [email protected] or through her website at LizJones.co.