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Opinion

Public Health, Mental Health Intertwined

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I started writing Our Health Policy Matters three and a half years ago, right after the 2010 mid-term elections.

Since then, I have written about two policy areas about which I am passionate – public health and mental health.  As I explain below, I am about to change my professional focus.  And while I will be speaking about one more than the other in the future, for me these two areas are related. Let me explain why.

Mental health and public health are first and foremost about wellness.  They are about identifying risk factors for disease and eliminating or mitigating them.

Many of the same environmental risk factors contribute to poor health, especially poor mental health.  These include poverty, violence, abuse, and neglect.  When we address or mitigate these risk factors, we improve our nation’s health and mental health together.

Read more at Our Health Policy Matters.

We often place the burden of responsibility for maintaining one’s health squarely on the shoulders of individuals.  But this is a too-narrow approach.  We cannot prevent every physical illness by eating right and exercising, nor can we prevent every mental illness by simply willing it away.
What we forget sometimes is a simple, self-evident concept about wellness – the brain is a part of the body, and there is no health without mental health.