The concept of five-a-day for healthy eating is now cemented in the nation’s minds (even if it has not turned into practice for some!). Using the same formula a campaign, MindApples, has been set up to get people to think of 5 things they can do to help their mind each day.
Mental health is more than just illnesses such as depression, stress or bipolar, it can be positive too, like fitness and physical health. The campaign of MindApples is focused on getting people to do simple day-to-day activities that are good for the mind. They are using crowd sourcing for some ideas by getting people to suggest their own five-a-day on the website and at events. These are ‘harvested’ for an overview of what we are doing today for our mental health and what we could be sharing to help tomorrow. Taking the approach of not simply telling people what they should be doing, but educating them about mental health to raise awareness and understanding as well, the idea has been very successful.
The need for this positive care is clear. Mental health problems cost £77 billion a year, which includes the impact of sub-clinical mental health problems (i.e. when people’s mental health is not optimal, but they are not being seen by doctors for it.). It influences physical health and a number of social factors from employability, relationships and crime. The Department of Health recently said that up to 50% of mental health issues could be preventable (Flourishing People, Connected Communities, 2009), which highlights the importance of ideas such as this. Getting people to take responsibility for our mental health in the same way we do for our teeth, physical fitness and general health could help avoid those preventable cases.
What would your five-a-day be?
Contributed by Anya de Iongh, Dorchester
A free booklet on the Mind Your Head Challenge 7 tips for 7 days is available on request.