WHY MENTAL HEALTH? Why do we want you to cycle close to 100km to highlight activities that promote mental well-being?
BECAUSE THERE IS NO HEALTH WITHOUT MENTAL HEALTH. Because mental health is integral to our overall well-being. Because mental health is a strong indicator of quality of life. While some people live life to the fullest and die at peace, despite being affected by mental illness, others are unable to enjoy life and even become physically ill if they are mentally unwell.
Mental illness accounts for 14% of the world's diseases. Nationally, 1/5 of Canadians will experience a mental illness in their lifetime. Many more will be affected by it. It is not a character flaw or a sign of weakness – and still, there is stigma attached to it; and people remain uncomfortable talking about what is obviously a very common affliction in our society.
Mental illness need not be chronic or disabling. There are many forms of treatment that can work quite effectively. But there are challenges. For one, there is no one ‘best practice’ for treating mental illness. Medication is not always effective. And psycho-therapy is financially out of reach for many Canadians. But there is at least one form of treatment that is free; accessible; sustainable and potentially highly effective: physical activity.
Balanced exercise has been shown to enhance brain function, mood and overall health:
- physical activity can help a person with depression learn new thinking strategies
- a person suffering from addiction has a better chance of staying true to their plan and avoiding the addicting habit, if they work out
- physical activity can help someone with anxiety relax by releasing feel-good hormones. Community-oriented exercise can help everyone make friends and increase their support network
Although seeking professional help may still be necessary, exercise is an important aspect of the treatment plan and a very accessible and inexpensive way to get started.
This is why we need your support. We are undertaking the Strong Free and Happy bicycling tour to raise awareness of the benefits of exercise; unite communities over sustainable physical activity; and help improve mental health resources. We want you to participate because:
- training for the event will help you reap the mental health benefits of aerobic exercises
- it would be tough to bring communities together if people from those communities don't show up
- the event will (most likely) be much more fun if you participate ;)
- THERE IS NO HEALTH WITHOUT MENTAL HEALTH.