As many of you who follow my work know, I have the good fortune of being a teaching fellow this semester at Harvard. The class, Rethinking Mental Health: Spirituality, Healing and Culture, attracts students from widely diverse backgrounds. From counselors, and psychiatrists, to medical research students, doctors and wellness practitioners, to students who just want to feel more healthy – mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Everyone however has one thing in common: they are open to seeing and experiencing healing “another way.”
There’s a new movement taking shape right now, one in which people are raising the bar on their expectations for quality of life. I, for one, couldn’t be happier!
After 20+ years teaching and counseling (primarily using the principles of spiritual psychotherapy as taught in A Course in Miracles) I have known that humanity is ready for dramatic change for quite some time. Here, for example, are some statistics that may surprise you.
- Just over ½ (50.6%) of children ages 8-15 received mental health services in 2014.1
- In 2015, 6.9% of adults in the U.S. had at least one major depressive episode.2
- Also in 2015, 18.1% of adults experienced an anxiety disorder. 3
Anxiety and depression often go hand in hand, with about half of those diagnosed with depression also experiencing anxiety.
So what’s a nation to do? Well, fortunately for us all, one answer combines two of my very favorite worlds and areas of expertise – food and mental health.
A recent article in Harvard Medical School’s Harvard Health Publications asks (and answers) some pretty provocative questions about “nutritional psychiatry”. Such as: “Can better nutrition ease angst?” And, “Are antioxidants anti-anxiety?”
To which I answer with my own question: Can anyone say Soul-Full Eating? 😉
To find out more about nutritional strategies to ease anxiety, read the original article from Harvard Health Publications by Uma Naidoo, MD.
On a similar note…
Many of us are aware that our food choices have an impact far beyond our personal well-being. A major component of Soul-Full Eating is to become aware of how the things we consume effect the world at large, including those who grew it in the first place. It seems obvious that we should care about the health of those who cultivate our earth – yet it’s a conversation we don’t seem to be having as much as we should. We talk about sustainability, hard work and financial hardships with regard to farming today, but not so much the physical and mental wellbeing of the farmers themselves.
Occasionally the silence is broken, however, and the personal experience of those at the heart of our food system is brought to light. This heart-wrenching example published by Environmental Health News in 2014 examines the link between pesticide use and the high rates of both depression and suicides among farmers.
These findings gave me all the more reason to support the Environmental Working Group’s “Grow Organics” movement. You can too, just by signing this petition which urges our government to invest in smarter food and farm policies.
1. Use of Mental Health Services and Treatment Among Children (n.d.) Retrieved January 16, 2015, from National Institute of Mental Health http://www.nimh.nih.gov
2. Major Depression Among Adults. (n.d.) Retrieved January 16, 2015, from National Institute of Mental Health http://www.nimh.nih.gov
3. Any Anxiety Disorder Among Adults (n.d.) Retrieved January 16, 2015, from National Institute of Mental Health http://www.nimh.nih.gov