Mental Health

, by Stephen de Bruyn

The link between thinking and physical health-you are what you think!

Mental health is a pivotal mechanism that works in concert with each of the other mechanisms to shape physical health (Chapman, Perry, and Strine 2005). For instance, the emotional support provided by social ties enhances psychological well-being, which, in turn, may reduce the risk of unhealthy behaviors and poor physical health (Kiecolt-Glaser et al. 2002; Thoits 1995; Uchino 2004). Moreover, mental health is an important health outcome in and of itself. The World Health Organization identifies mental health as an essential dimension of overall health status (World Health Organization 2007). However, the prevalence of mental disorders and their consequences for individuals and societies are often underappreciated by policy makers and private insurers. Data from the National Comorbidity Survey Replication indicate that 26.2 percent of noninstitutionalized U.S. adults suffer from a mental disorder in a given year (Kessler et al. 2005). As the leading cause of disability in both low- and high-income countries, mental disorders account for over 37 percent of the total years of healthy life lost due to disability (Mathers et al. 2006).

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