Whilst there is an ongoing increase in excellent therapeutic and holistic treatments to help people suffering from a vast range of mental health issues, and there is more and more open and honest talk about mental health, a recent article in The Guardian newspaper claims that “far more attention should be devoted to preventing mental illness rather than simply treating it as it arises”, comparing the current approach to only treating heart disease after a cardiac arrest.
We are so used to hearing about ways to prevent physiological illness – eat your five a day fruit and veg, recommended weekly units of alcohol, what is a healthy BMI, eat less sugar and fat, GM foods, too much red meat, oily fish for Omega 3 acids, nuts and seeds, a balanced diet, immunization, vaccination, – all these recommendations help us avoid physical and other health trauma such as heart attack, diabetes, cancer, obesity. But what can we do to prevent mental illness? What are the best foods, lifestyles or support networks to help us avoid issues such as anxiety and depression? What could we do to improve mental resilience?
A recent paper in the journal Lancet Psychiatry pinpointed key risk factors that may lead to mental illness. In broad order, they include genetics, early brain trauma, childhood abuse and/or lack of stimulation, bullying, substance abuse, social adversity, shock and trauma, exposure to violence both domestic and military, immigration and social isolation.