Not until we are lost do we begin to find ourselves
– Henry David Thoreau
US Adults who experienced Mental Illness in 2018*
US Youth age 6-17 who experienced Mental Illness in 2016*
Lost earnings in the US economy each year due to Mental Illness*
What is Mental Health?
The term Mental Health refers to our overall state of mind and wellness. Simply put, it is how we feel and our outlook on life. A large part of this depends upon how effective we are at managing stress in our lives. Whether it be constant digital stimulation, media and advertising, financial issues, career demands or family obligations, balancing all of these responsibilities is a real and constant challenge.
Hiking, Yoga and being in Nature are all effective tools that can help manage stress. But they are just that, tools. Tools that, when properly used, can help us achieve balance in our lives. But we must be diligent and take responsibility for our wellness to achieve this balance. When our lives are balanced and stress is kept under control, we tend to make better lifestyle choices which can improve our health and well-being. Achieving this state of total wellness depends on several independent factors.
The physical element of wellness relates to our diet, nutrition and exercise. Our bodies were designed to move. Muscle tissue is the only material, natural or man-made, that gets better with use. Stop and think about that for a minute. Movement and exercise also releases endorphins and hormones into the body that make us feel good. Incorporating more whole food-plant based choices into your diet and understanding your particular nutritional needs will provide the fuel your body and brain need for optimal performance. Thus, adequate exercise and nutrition are the cornerstone of wellness.
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2. Emotional and Mental
The second element of wellness addresses our emotional and mental needs. Studies have shown that having a solid support system and a good social network increases our longevity and helps create a sense of belonging. We instinctively know that experiences in life are more meaningful when shared with others. Finding your tribe should be a priority.
The final element of wellness addresses the Spiritual realm. Having a firm sense of purpose and feeling that you are contributing to a cause greater than yourself is a vital part to having a sense of fulfillment and wholeness. At some level, we all want to leave our mark on the world and make a difference in the lives of others. Finding and understanding our purpose is key for this.
We are a product of these physical, emotional/mental and spiritual elements. It is necessary to acknowledge and balance these elements with the demands and responsibilities of daily life. Only then can we achieve total wellness and maintain sound Mental Health.
What is Mental Illness?
Mental Illness refers to conditions such as anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or schizophrenia. They affect a person’s mood, emotional state or how they relate to their surroundings. The cause of these conditions are complex and vary with each individual. It is generally accepted that there is not a single root cause, but rather many factors that contribute to the condition. These factors are cumulative and may include trauma, violence, abuse, genetics, prolonged stress or a dysfunctional home.
One out of every five U.S. adults experience some form of mental illness each year. That equates to approximately 47.6 million adults in the US alone. Add an additional 7.7 million youth annually, and it becomes clear how mental illness results in $193.2 billion of lost earnings each year.*
How you can help
Chances are someone you know has been, or is affected by Mental Illness. You can help eliminate the stigma associated with mental illness by raising awareness and learning about ways to support those that are affected. Sometimes, it can be as simple as starting a conversation.
I am committing to do my part by supporting Hike for Mental Health. HIKE for Mental Health is an all-volunteer 501(c)(3) organization whose mission is to raise awareness of Mental Health by supporting clinical research and giving back to the hiking community. They are committed to contributing 100% of the proceeds they raise to their chosen organizations: currently 80% goes to the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation, 10% to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and 10% to the Pacific Crest Trail Association. Collectively, these organizations benefit millions of people each year.
Other ways to help:
You don’t need to be a hiker to help! If you are interested in donating or volunteering to help Mental Health research and these iconic long trails, you can find links within my site or by visiting HIKE for Mental Health directly.
Happy Hiking and Namaste!
* Statistics from National Alliance on Mental Illness (www.nami.org)