“Mental illness exerts a heavy toll on society, but only receives a fraction of the funding that physical illness does. There is a universal need for beneficial and cost-effective interventions for mental illness. But what might qualify as an option?
One possible answer is activity! As a psychiatrist treating a wide range of conditions, I have seen first-hand the benefit of activity and routinely apply it to clients, both in terms of recommending activity of various forms and formal behavioral activation treatment (BAT).
In the realm of physical health, physical activity is well established. But the notion of activity for mental health is still developing. This is why I researched the spectrum of activity to uncover the reasons why activity is so beneficial to mental health. The resulting book, “Activity For Mental Health,” explores activity in general, as well as specific forms — physical, social, nature, cognitive, art/hobby and music.
One key reason why activity in general improves mental health is due to human evolution. In contrast to our primate relatives, humans had to be active in order to search for food, water, safe resting sites and other valuable resources. In other words, we evolved to be active and this is expressed in our requirements for health.
Another reason is the importance of having a positive focus. Negative distractions are ever-present and weigh us down psychologically. However, being absorbed into a positive focus, such as an activity, has the potential to remove a person, or distract, from negativity.
Beyond the benefits of activity in general on mental health, physical, social, nature, cognitive, art/hobby and music activity each have their own unique impact. In this day and age of evidence-based interventions, it is important to establish to what extent the various forms of activity both treat mental illness and promote mental health in the general population.”
Here is a brief overview of why each form of activity is beneficial for mental health.
Article source: NAMI