Fact: 1 in 5 Australians Are Diagnosed With A Mental Illness Each Year

Here's how exercise comes into play.

mental health
Image: iStock

We live in a health-conscious world where nut milks have replaced dairy, cauliflower has replaced rice and stevia has become the new sugar. We’re quick to try diets like keto, turn vegan in a second and don’t think twice about intermittent fasting. More and more Saturdays are spent doing coastal walks, sipping on green juices and smashing out HIIT classes—all in the name of health and wellness.
While that’s all well and good, mental health continues to be a serious issue here in Australia, and if there’s one thing that’s just as important as making your physical state of being a priority, it’s looking after your mental state of mind—which, as we see here, both go hand in hand.

downward dog
Image: iStock

“The most recent studies have shown that 1 in 5 Australians will have a diagnosable mental illness every year,” explains Lysn psychologist, Breanna Jayne Sada. “That’s 20% of the population, or if you have a group of five friends, at least one of you every year would meet the criteria for a mental illness diagnosis.”
“The most common mental illness would be some sort of anxiety disorder. Following this is depressive or mood disorders such as depression or bipolar.”
Sadly, the rate of mental illness in Australia is on the rise in both men and women, but the good news is that, according to Breanna Jayne Sada, we as a nation are getting better at talking about mental health.
“I still think we have a long way to go when it comes to removing the stigma and stereotypes about mental illness and help-seeking,” she says. “The fact that it can happen to any one of us means that it needs to be an open, ongoing discussion.”
The Black Dog Institute states that: “Every day, at least six Australians die from suicide and a further thirty people will attempt to take their own life.”
In reflection of this alarming and scary statistic, gym chain Anytime Fitness has partnered up with Suicide Prevention Australia for the country’s largest ever suicide prevention community challenge, Tread Together (a 24-hour treadmill challenge).

Heading the initiative is Wellness Director at Anytime Fitness, Dan Conn who has openly and honestly spoken about his own struggles with depression.
“With one life lost every three hours to suicide, it’s more important than ever to get involved in raising awareness and breaking down stigma,” says Dan. “We know that exercise and physical activity have a positive impact on people’s mental health, so this is the perfect way to get your endorphins pumping while raising funds for a very worthwhile cause.”
Dan believes that focusing on eating right and exercising has played a huge part in his own long-term battle and recovery. Not only that, he believes that the power of basic fitness and nutrition is underestimated when it comes to the treatment and management of mental health overall.
There are numerous studies that show a direct link between physical activity and lower cases of depression and in line with this, Breanna Jayne Sada says taking care of your body is one of the most effective things that can be done in looking after your mindset.

food to boost productivity in the workplace
Image: iStock

“Exercising, sleeping well and eating the right foods can help to keep your mental health in check. It’s important to fuel your body with nutritious foods, as many people don’t realise that food can actually affect our brains and mood. Be mindful what you’re putting into your body, ensure you’re getting enough sleep and exercise regularly because it releases feel good endorphins.”

“The more I study and research the scientific effect on the brain that movement and the food we eat has, the more it has made me want to pass on what I’ve been taught,” Dan tells Amodrn.
“Balancing all aspects of wellness is a tough gig, we all feel that life throws things at us. Just focusing on the basics has always been what’s super important. Keep moving, eat clean and healthy and seek out the positive side to what’s ahead for you.”

Want to get involved? Check out the event details below!

What: Tread Together, 24-hour fundraiser at Anytime Fitness for Suicide Prevention Australia
When: Friday, May 25th
Where: Over 270 Anytime Fitness gyms nationwide
What: Members and non-members pre-register to be sponsored to run (or walk, or dance) on a treadmill for as little as 15 minutes, or for any length of time – all the way up to a full 24 hours on a treadmill at their local Anytime Fitness. The event simultaneously kicks off at 3pm on Friday 25th and ends on Saturday 26th.
With the overall goal of raising $500,000 by the end of the 24-hours, the treadmill challenge aims to raise much-needed funds for Suicide Prevention Australia and the National Suicide Prevention Research Fund.
To register, or see the full list of participating clubs, go to treadtogether.org.au

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