Benefits of Exercise for Mental Health

By Stefanie Moore
Digital Marketing Coordinator

Exercising and working out is not just beneficial to your overall health, it is also essential to your mental health as well.

I am writing this as running and working out has benefited me a lot, mentally. A stressful day in the office, a stressful week, a lot going on, or just emotions going haywire, going for a run helps me keep that under control.

Exercise improves your mood. A run after a stressful day often makes oneself feel better. Michael Otto, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at Boston University told the American Psychological Association “the link between exercise and mood is pretty strong. Usually, within five minutes after moderate exercise, you get a mood-enhancement effect.”

Research has shown exercise helps long term and helps alleviate depression. The evidence is based on experimental studies, as well as population-based correlation studies.

Researchers have also explored using exercise for treating anxiety.

Currently, researchers do not fully know which types and how much exercise can be useful for treating mental health conditions.

According to NAMI, “Exercise has been researched and validated for treating a variety of mental issues and mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety, eating disorders, bipolar disorders, schizophrenia, addictions, grief, relationship problems, dementia and personality disorders. Additionally, exercise alleviates such conditions as bad moods, stress, chronic pain and chronic illnesses.”

NAMI’s 8 Keys to Mental Health Through Exercise include:

1. Heal your mind and body with exercise
2. Improve your self-esteem with exercise
3. Exercise as a family
4. Get motivated
5. Change how you think about exercise
6. Overcome roadblocks
7. Get FITT — Physically and mentally
8. Implement your vision and flourish

Before running, stress would overtake my mind, making me have anxiety. I will admit, I have anxiety over somethings still, but while working on them, and implementing exercise and running into my life, I have been able to handle it better.

I workout to improve my mind, reduce stress, improve my mood, alleviate anxiety, tap into creativity, and inspire others. I often run or workout with my husband. We have even done vacations around races. I also love running with my dog Buffy, if it’s not too hot for her. Yoga has also been very beneficial to me, as one of my yoga instructors have said, it helps you zen.

The HuffPost published 13 Mental Health Benefits of Exercise, which includes:

1. Reduce Stress
2. Boost Happy Chemicals
3. Improve Self-Confidence
4. Enjoy The Great Outdoors
5. Prevent Cognitive Decline
6. Alleviate Anxiety
7. Boost Brainpower
8. Sharpen Memory
9. Help Control Addiction
10. Increase Relaxations
11. Get More Done
12. Tap Into Creativity
13. Inspire Others.

For what benefit do you focus on gaining from working out?

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Be sure to watch for updates from Highland-Clarksburg Hospital about its 3rd Annual Ugly Sweater Run in December 2018.

This year, Highland-Clarksburg Hospital (HCHI) is encouraging residents of WV to share their story and raise awareness of Mental Health Month with the hashtags #StigmaFreeWV and #MentalHealthMattersWV.

Assets are available on our website at https://highlandclarksburghospital.com/mentalhealth/ which includes profiles photos, cover photos, fact sheets and more. There is also a link to share your story, anonymously if you would like.

Highland-Clarksburg Hospital is a private, non-profit mental health hospital located in Clarksburg, WV. HCHI offers services for youth, adults, and forensic patients, all suffering from mental health problems.
In the following weeks in May, we will feature blog posts written by staff and therapists here at Highland-Clarksburg Hospital. Posts will include information about breaking the stigma, warning signs of a mental health condition, improving mental health with exercise, nutrition, and mental health, and the top diagnosed mental illnesses.

For more information about Highland-Clarksburg Hospital, visit HighlandClarksburgHospital.com or call 304-969-3100. Keep up-to-date with our activities and events by following our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/HighlandClarksburgHospital

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Highland-Clarksburg Hospital (HCHI) is a private, non-profit hospital that is dedicated to providing the best care for persons with mental disorders in West Virginia, parts of Ohio, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. It has established an integrated system of high-quality behavioral health services, including mental health treatment services for Children, Adolescents’ and Forensic patients. Highland-Clarksburg Hospital is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

Please note, not everyone can workout due to other health conditions, be sure to have a doctor’s approval.

Are We What We Eat?

By Brittney Rutledge, MS
Forensic Therapist

What’s for lunch? This question is becoming more expected in behavioral health facilities. There is significant research that a nutritious, well-balanced diet isn’t just good for the body; it’s great for the brain too.

Many well-conducted studies have been published worldwide regarding a link between diet and common mental disorders such as depression and anxiety in both kids and adults.

Half of all long-term mental health disorders start by age 14. Today, childhood mental illness affects more than 17 million kids in the U.S.

“A very large body of evidence now exists that suggests diet is as important to mental health as it is to physical health,” says Felice Jacka, president of International Society for Nutritional Psychiatry Research. A healthy diet is protective, and an unhealthy diet is a risk factor for mental disorders such as depression and anxiety. Food allergies may also play a role in psychoses and personality disorders.

Certain foods may play a minor role in the cause of mental disorders, or they may enhance the symptoms. A nutritious brain diet follows the same logic as a heart-healthy regimen or weight control plan. By helping people shape their diets, we can improve their mental health, and hopefully decrease their risk of psychiatric disorders.

It is essential to be mindful when eating and limiting sugary or high fat processed foods, and choose more plant foods like fresh fruits, veggies, and whole grains.

Although there’s no direct evidence that diet can improve depression or other mental health disorders and it shouldn’t be a substitution for medication and other treatments; it is essential to be mindful of eating habits. Experts have found a correlation with diet and how it may play a role in mental health. What you eat may affect your immunity, how your genes work and how your body responds to stress.

Diet impacts your mental health, and it is crucial for brain development. Specific nutrients and dietary patterns are linked to changes in the brain protein that helps increase connections between brain cells. Therefore, a diet rich in nutrients like omega-3s and zinc boosts levels of this substance. Whereas, a diet high in saturated fats and refined sugars may have a negative impact on brain proteins.

A well-balanced diet also fills the gut with healthy bacteria which is good for the brain. Good bacteria will fend off harmful germs and keep your immune system in check. Good gut health may decrease the inflammation in the body. Foods with probiotics (good bacteria) help maintain a healthy gut environment which may also have positive effects on mood and cognition, whereas, a high-fat or high-sugar diet is bad for gut health and bad for your brain. Some research suggests that high-sugar diets worsen schizophrenia symptoms.

Overall, certain foods may have effects on your mental health, or they may make symptoms worse. The goal is to choose foods that pack as many nutrients in as few calories as possible. Nutrients may be particularity helpful as preventive care in mental illness.

People who have low B12 levels have higher rates of depression and dementia, too little iron in the blood has been linked to depression. Healthy fatty acids like omega-3s aides in improving thinking, mood, and memory. Nutrients like zinc can help control the body’s response to stress where low zinc levels may cause depression. Fermented foods and drinks like yogurt and kombucha with active live cultures provide good gut bacteria; resulting in lower stress, depression, and anxiety. And, dark chocolate has antioxidants, which increases blood flow to the brain assisting in memory and mood. So, the next time you eat a piece of chocolate, don’t feel so guilty, remember it’s good for the brain.

Mental Health is for everybody and just as we should follow a daily regimen that keeps our hearts, skin, and other organs flourishing, we should also be mindful of nourishing our brains, even if we don’t suffer from mental illness.

Remember to eat healthier fats, get more protein, avoid sugar highs, treat stress with vitamins, and learn how to live in constant state of release, forgiveness, and peace.

For more information about Highland-Clarksburg Hospital, visit HighlandClarksburgHospital.com or call 304-969-3100. Keep up-to-date with our activities and events by following our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/HighlandClarksburgHospital

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Highland-Clarksburg Hospital (HCHI) is a private, non-profit hospital that is dedicated to providing the best care for persons with mental disorders in West Virginia, parts of Ohio, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. It has established an integrated system of high-quality behavioral health services, including mental health treatment services for Children, Adolescents’ and Forensic patients. Highland-Clarksburg Hospital is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

Mental Health Barriers: Breaking the Stigma

By Brianna Hardman MSW, LGSW
Therapist, Children’s Services

Each year one in five Americans experience a mental health issue, despite this prevalence, seeking help continues to come with a stigma that leaves many suffering in silence. Only a portion of those who need support can find it, and while there are other reasons such as financial and transportation barriers, the shame and judgment perceived by those experiencing these challenges often leave individuals struggling behind closed doors. We all have heard words such as “crazy,” “nuts,” and “psycho” utilized colloquially to negatively describe people, situations, and circumstances related to mental illness; but do we understand where the stigma derives?

Mental health stigma can be divided into two distinct types. Social stigma is categorized by judgmental attitudes and discriminating behavior directed towards individuals with mental health challenges as a result of the psychiatric diagnosis they have been given. The second type is perceived stigma or “self-stigma” is the internalizing by the individual of their perceptions of discrimination based on mental illness. So both the attitudes of others and the perception of the individual categorize the two main types of stigma that can hinder one’s ability to seek treatment.

These stigmas are held in differing socioeconomic statuses, education levels, and across various cultures, much like mental health issues stigma can also impact anyone. Stigma embraces both attitudes and actions towards individuals with mental health issues, and the social impacts include social isolation, lack of support, quality of life, and low self-esteem. Stigma also has a detrimental effect on treatment outcomes and impedes recovery from mental health problems. Self-stigma is linked with employment success and increased social isolation. These factors alone represent significant reasons for attempting to eliminate mental health stigma and ensure that social inclusion and a supportive, welcoming environment is possible.

Decreasing stigma will, in turn, allow individuals to seek support more readily, and without fear of judgment or discrimination. The impact of early intervention in mental health challenges is clear. The earlier one seeks help, the more likely they will be of overcoming challenges. Not only does early intervention improve treatment outcomes, but can also have an impact on receiving the correct diagnosis to form a solid modality for treatment. It’s never too late to seek help, but early intervention decreases the solitude that often coincides with mental illness.

What can be done to decrease stigma? Awareness such as this month, while we educate and explore mental health needs, can help reduce that stigma and show individuals that they are not alone. Mental illness and stigma can lead to isolation, the simple notion of learning that many individuals are going through similar struggles can be enough to break that barrier and lead to seeking out treatment. For parents and other caregivers, it’s important to talk to your children about the importance of mental health and not to fear sharing if they are feeling sad, anxious, angry, or just different than their baseline. Reaching out to schools and community centers to provide education and awareness can reach a larger audience. Many mental health disorders begin to shows signs in adolescence, and learning these signs can be helpful for children and teens.

Other places of interest to provide awareness are through local health departments, doctor’s offices, and clinics. Mental and physical health often coincides, and those who are reporting physical ailments may have a level of shame or fear in sharing the mental aspects that could be impacting their daily life. As a therapist, I find it important to participate in education and awareness events so that my scope of practice reaches further than the hospital. As providers, we all share the same ethical responsibility, but it isn’t just up to professionals to provide outreach. Trainings, such as Mental Health First Aid, are occurring all over the country and offer information for any interested person to learn how to aid, intervene, and spread awareness about mental health. Reaching out to a local health department, mental and behavioral hospital or other community-based organizations can also offer ways to volunteer and contribute. If we as a society can place an emphasis on mental health care at the same capacity, we do physical health and wellness we can reach a point in which there are less and less individuals suffering in silence.

For more information about Highland-Clarksburg Hospital, visit HighlandClarksburgHospital.com or call 304-969-3100. Keep up-to-date with our activities and events by following our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/HighlandClarksburgHospital

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Highland-Clarksburg Hospital (HCHI) is a private, non-profit hospital that is dedicated to providing the best care for persons with mental disorders in West Virginia, parts of Ohio, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. It has established an integrated system of high-quality behavioral health services, including mental health treatment services for Children, Adolescents’ and Forensic patients. Highland-Clarksburg Hospital is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

References:

https://www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org/

https://www2.health.vic.gov.au/mental-health/prevention-and-promotion/early-intervention-in-mental-health

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/why-we-worry/201308/mental-health-stigma

Warning Signs of a Mental Health Condition

By Jamie B.
Therapist- Forensics

It is essential for our wellness to recognize warning signs of a mental health condition. With May being Mental Health Month, here are a few tips to remember if you feel signs of a mental health condition in yourself, or a loved one.

Often, signs and symptoms will begin affecting daily living before the thought, “Am I suffering from a mental health condition?”

Symptoms can include the following: Things may feel “off,” emptiness, problems with concentration, significant fluctuation in mood and motivation levels, irritability, agitation, sleeping way more or way less than usual, indecisiveness, and/or impulsive decision-making.

Keep in mind: It may be “more than just a bad day or two,” if the signs and symptoms persist, particularly lasting for two weeks or more. Life may feel extra-challenging, with significant distress and impairment in daily activities. Thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and general interactions with the world could be altered.

Each type of mental health condition has a distinct pattern of thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. Being able to recognize that things are “off” is the first step toward understanding and taking control of a potential mental health condition. Symptoms are what we can feel ourselves mentally, physically, and emotionally.

Others often can observe signs of a mental health condition. Take it into consideration if others are noticing signs of potential mental illness. It is essential to be mindful of your typical emotional state — that is your “baseline.” If you are off of your “baseline” for some time, it may be time to reach out for help.

People do not have the same warning signs and symptoms; however if you feel some of the symptoms that are mentioned above, you may want to dig a little deeper. Do any of these symptoms/warning signs exist, and if so, for how long?

  • A marked change in one’s sense of self, a feeling a change in who you are, that manifests through displayed emotions and behaviors
  • Psychosomatic troubles — often, people seek help for one or more physical problems (headaches, digestive issues, significant aches, and pains, for example)
  • Confusion or disorientation, fogginess (again that others can spot)
  • Difficulty concentrating, learning and staying on task (you can’t accomplish things or get things done as you used to)
  • Inability to carry out daily activities
  • Difficulty handling stress
  • Avoiding friends and social activities
  • Changes in eating habits accompanied by significant weight loss or gain
  • Substance use to mask problems (referred to as self-medicating)
  • Suicidal thoughts (noticeable to others through ambiguous statements about not being able to go on, saying that people would be better off without them, giving away possessions, etc.)
  • Problems and struggles that worsen rather than get better
  • A vague sense of shutting down that shows itself through withdrawal from activities, relationships, work, school, and life in general

It is so important to take care of our mental health, as it connects holistically to our overall sense of self-satisfaction and well-being. If neglected, you suffer. Friends, family, and loved ones are affected as well. Relationships can quickly deteriorate if you are suffering from a mental health condition and do not seek help.

You are not alone! There are people to help. If you feel like you need assistance, there are choices. Some of the options are: Visiting your Physician to discuss your symptoms; asking for a referral to meet with a Psychiatrist; Outpatient Therapy (this can happen in a school, office, or home setting depending on the agency); Family Therapy; and/or Inpatient Therapy. A professional in the field of health/mental health will be able to assist with what type of treatment is best for you by assessing your individualized symptoms, and support systems.

Quick Statistics

  • Approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. experiences mental illness in a given year.
  • Approximately 1 in 25 adults in the U.S. experiences a serious mental illness in a given year that substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities.
  • 1.1% of adults in the U.S. live with schizophrenia.
  • 2.6% of adults in the U.S. live with bipolar disorder.
  • 6.9% of adults in the U.S. had at least one major depressive episode in the past year.
  • 18.1% of adults in the U.S. experienced an anxiety disorder such as posttraumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and specific phobias.
  • Among the 20.2 million adults in the U.S. who experienced a substance use disorder, 50.5% had a co-occurring mental illness.
  • Only 41% of adults in the U.S. with a mental health condition received mental health services in the past year. Among adults with a serious mental illness, 62.9% received mental health services in the past year.
  • Half of all chronic mental illness begins by age 14, three-quarters by age 24. Despite effective treatment, there are long delays—sometimes decades—between the first appearance of symptoms and when people get help.
  • Mood disorders, including major depression, dysthymic disorder, and bipolar disorder, are the third most common cause of hospitalization in the U.S. for both youth and adults aged 18–44.
  • Individuals living with serious mental illness face an increased risk of having chronic medical conditions. Adults in the U.S. living with serious mental illness die on average 25 years earlier than others, mainly due to treatable medical conditions.

Please do not ignore your mental health! Pay attention to the warning signs. There is help available, and it is never too late to start taking better care of yourself — mind, body, and soul.

For more information about Highland-Clarksburg Hospital, visit HighlandClarksburgHospital.com or call 304-969-3100. Keep up-to-date with our activities and events by following our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/HighlandClarksburgHospital

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Highland-Clarksburg Hospital (HCHI) is a private, non-profit hospital that is dedicated to providing the best care for persons with mental disorders in West Virginia, parts of Ohio, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. It has established an integrated system of high-quality behavioral health services, including mental health treatment services for Children, Adolescents’ and Forensic patients. Highland-Clarksburg Hospital is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

Annual Fundraiser to Support New Addiction Services for the Mountain State

Help fight substance abuse by supporting Highland-Clarksburg Hospital’s 3rd Annual Huggs & Kisses III Featuring Coach Bob Huggins

Clarksburg, WV Highland-Clarksburg Hospital‘s (HCHI) annual fundraiser proceeds will be geared toward combating the substance abuse and opioid epidemic in the state. The funds raised will support the hospital’s new substance abuse unit and programming, set to open later this year. Enjoy an evening filled with hope and fun while supporting a great cause.

The 3rd Annual Huggs & Kisses is scheduled for Friday, May 18, 2018, at the Bridgeport Conference Center. WVU Men’s Basketball Coach, Bob Huggins, is the guest speaker for the event. Kaufman Realty and Auctions will host a live auction, featuring a variety of items from sporting event tickets to getaways, after the dinner and speakers. Social hour begins at 5 p.m., followed by dinner at 6 p.m. and the live auction at 7 p.m.

Substance abuse is a growing epidemic in our area, and one way to combat the problem is to recognize it exists and offer solutions. You can help HCHI combat the substance abuse problem in the Mountain State by supporting Huggs & Kisses III.

All proceeds will support substance abuse services and programming at the hospital. The new service will include 38 substance abuse beds aid in the recovery from substance use disorders by providing quality, comprehensive residential services within a safe and caring environment.  The program will incorporate evidence-based practices, prevention strategies, and recovery supports as needed by the individual.

A portion of the proceeds from the event will be donated to support Norma Mae Huggins Cancer Fund.

Highland-Clarksburg Hospital would like to thank the event sponsors for making this possible. The event is sponsored by Corporate Sponsor: Alpha Technologies, Huggins Sponsor: Premier Energy Services, Dinner Sponsors: Jenkins Subaru and BB&T Carson Insurance Services, and Kaufman Auction Sponsor: Bombardier. Additional sponsorship opportunities are available.

Highland-Clarksburg Hospital, Inc. is a private, non-profit hospital that is dedicated to providing the best care for persons with mental illness. HCHI has established an integrated system of high-quality behavioral health services, including mental health treatment services for children, adolescents, and adult patients. The hospital is located in North Central West Virginia and began taking patients in August 2013. HCHI is growing and aims to expand their clinical programs and community initiatives every year.

To purchase tickets online, visit https://highlandclarksburghospital.com/huggs-kisses/. For more ticket options, to become a sponsor, or for general event inquiries, please contact Kathy Burr at 304-969-3102 or kburr@highlandhospital.net.

For more information about Highland-Clarksburg Hospital, visit HighlandClarksburgHospital.com or call 304-969-3100. Keep up-to-date with our activities and events by following our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/HighlandClarksburgHospital

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Highland-Clarksburg Hospital (HCHI) is a private, non-profit hospital that is dedicated to providing the best care for persons with mental disorders in West Virginia, parts of Ohio, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. It has established an integrated system of high-quality behavioral health services, including mental health treatment services for Children, Adolescents’ and Forensic patients. Highland-Clarksburg Hospital is an equal opportunity provider and employer.