Most people know that physical activity can reduce risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and other chronic diseases, but fewer know that it is also important for mental health. Research suggests that exercise and physical activity can help to improve symptoms of anxiety and depression. People of color, particularly youth, are less likely to be physically active compared to Whites and, in general, as people get older they exercise less. Since the U.S. population is becoming more racially diverse, more people are at risk for inactivity.
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In 1976 President Gerald Ford honored the contributions of black Americans by issuing a proclamation that officially marked February as African American History Month. This proclamation continued to be issued by every president that followed. For the 2019 celebration, SAMHSA recognizes three leaders who have had significant impact on the mental health of their communities and beyond and have been important contributors to SAMHSA’s efforts to advance behavioral health equity for African Americans.
One of the most important advances in treating serious mental illness in recent years is improving care for people experiencing a first onset of serious mental illness. We know that early phases of psychosis can be identified, and that team based coordinated specialty care treatment reduces the likelihood of long-term disability. SAMHSA’s new Early Serious Mental Illness Treatment Locator will help connect people experiencing a first onset of serious mental illness to effective care.
In a previous blog post, I wrote about crisis intervention teams and their effectiveness in improving outcomes for people experiencing a crisis due to a mental or substance use disorder. Crisis intervention teams work with law enforcement officials to recognize a person who is in crisis and safely direct them to treatment appropriate for their condition.
Mental health is central to everyone’s well-being, particularly adolescents, teens, and young adults. Our youth are active in their communities where they initiate growth, lead and contribute. However, in many cases, some young people face additional challenges that can take a toll on their well-being, including suffering from mental illness. This year, the World Health Organization (WHO) has chosen youth as the focus of World Mental Health Day 2018 with its theme, “Young People and Mental Health in a Changing World.”
Each September 10, the International Association for Suicide Prevention sponsors World Suicide Prevention Day. Here in the United States, overall suicide rates have increased significantly since 1999 in almost every state, but suicide affects some groups far more than others. As we observe World Suicide Prevention Day, I’d like to call attention to the effect suicide has on tribal communities.
American Indian and Alaska Native youth ages 15-24 die by suicide at a rate four times the overall rate for this age group. Alarmingly, these suicides often occur in clusters—multiple suicides within a social group or small community in a short time.