At Truehope we have first hand experience with suicide. Our founder Anthony Stephan’s wife Debora, followed in her father’s footsteps and succumbed to suicide after her 10 year battle with bipolar disorder. As the sole provider for their 10 children, Anthony later realized two of his children, Joseph and Autumn, had inherited their mothers disorder. The psychiatric medications that had failed his wife were now also failing his children.
The story of how Truehope began is an unusual one, and it makes us passionate about mental health and suicide prevention. In Canada, suicide is the leading cause of death for both men and women from the teenage years to middle age. Among 15-24 year olds, 24% of deaths are due to suicide. Among 25-44 year olds, the number is 16% (CAMH).
Mental health problems such as depression are thought to come from a complex mix of genetic, biological, personality, and environmental factors. There are many influences at play, so what can you do support your loved ones in their mental health, and prevent suicide?
Know the warning signs
Is there a high risk?
Additional signs in your loved one that require you take immediate action:
What you can do
If you suspect a loved one is struggling and considering suicide, it can be hard to know what to do. We recommend:
In an emergency do not leave the person on their own, and always call 9-1-1 or go to your local emergency department.
We can all admit it’s often a struggle to express our feelings. With mental health issues, there’s the added barriers of stigma and the potential for discrimination. There is help, and there is a way to find health and more meaning in life.
Unfortunately we live in a society where there is still a stigma around mental health. It’s especially saddening when you consider mental illness affects all Canadians at some time, whether personally, through a family member, friend or colleague.
Taking the stigma out of mental health begins with understanding how many people it affects, regardless of race, their social standing, politics, or bank balance. It does not discriminate. Canada's largest mental health teaching hospital, The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), says:
By comparison we widely accept other diagnoses without the fear and stigma towards those experiencing them. The Government of Canada says about 1 in 12 (or 2.4 million) Canadian adults over the age of 20 live with heart disease, 1 in 10 Canadians suffer from a thyroid condition, osteoporosis will affect 1 in 4 women and more than 1 in 8 men over the age of 50. We do not deny our friends, family, or even complete strangers empathy for suffering from these physical conditions. Why should mental illness be any different?
Check yourself: are you judging someone with mental health issues? Have you ever described someone with depression as just being lazy and thought they should just “snap out of it”? Or have you thought that someone with anxiety is just being irritable? Would you offer the same judgement to someone who has broken their leg, or who has the flu, or has cancer? It would be better to express empathy to someone with a mental health issue in a similar way toward someone with any other health issue.
Be kind to others, take the time to really listen to your friends and family, and have empathy for strangers. You never know what they have been through, and how your judgement can hurt them. Ask how people are feeling, if they are ok, and how you can help. Tell them you care for them, and how important they are to you. Honour their feelings, and ask if they’d like to talk.
Finally, watch your language, because the words we use have an impact. Avoid using words like “crazy”, “schizo”, “wacko”, “insane”, regardless of what you’re describing.
Almost half of Canadians who have experienced depression or anxiety have never been to see a doctor about it. The stigma attached to mental health issues, and the discrimination that people experience, may prevent them from getting the help they need.
Remember the statistics: one day, it might be you with a mental health challenge. Truehope will be there to support you.
What are your experiences around the Stigma of Mental Illness?
Share with us on Facebook and Instagram.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), depression is the leading cause of ill health and disability worldwide. The number of people affected continues to rise, with an increase of more than 18% between 2005 and 2015. That means over 300 million people are living with depression around the world!
Nutrition plays an important role in our mental health, and is considered to be a significant factor in the prevalence of depression in Canada. We have an increasing reliance on processed and packaged food that certainly help with convenience, but are not full of the vitamins and minerals we need to functional optimally. Plus our fresh fruits, vegetables, pulses, beans, and animal proteins are not as nutrient dense as they used to be, due to our industrialized farming practices.
Today we’re going to discuss nutritional changes that will be supportive to those with depression, and will be preventative for everyone else.
Start right now!
There are some things that are very easy to get started with. They include:
One of the biggest things to consider is the quality of fats you consume. Every single cell in your body requires fats to function properly, and the brain is 60% fat. Consuming the right kinds of fats makes a big difference to your mental health.
In Canada we consume too much of the inflammatory omega 6 fatty acids, and not enough of the anti-inflammatory omega 3 fatty acids that our brains love. Not only is omega 6 inflammatory, but it blocks the absorption of omega 3s into our cells. As a result, it’s important to not only increase our consumption of omega 3s, but decrease our omega 6s as well. Here are some tips on how to do that:
Managing blood sugar
We all love candy, baked goods, and snacks like chips. Unfortunately, processed carbohydrates like these can cause a roller coaster of blood sugar levels. This leads to fluctuating energy levels, and can affect hormone and neurotransmitter production. It comes as no surprise that a high sugar diet is connected to a higher risk of depression. Here are some simple ways you can cut back on processed carbohydrates:
Cutting back on the processed foods you eat can make a big difference, and by learning about food quality you can do even more. We recommend buying the best quality food you can afford:
Our digestive tracts need to be full of beneficial bacteria for us to be healthy. This bacteria is called the “microbiome”, and it is essential to our mental health. While there are many facets to supporting your beneficial bacteria, here are some food-based suggestions:
There’s no better time to get started
Our tips today have covered the first nutritional steps you can take to lower inflammation and improve your mental health. There will be more refinement that can be done that’s unique to you, your digestion, allergies, food intolerances, and lifestyle. We recommend working with a Nutritionist or Naturopath to help you do that.
Canada's largest mental health teaching hospital, The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) says that in any given year, 1 in 5 people in Canada will experience a mental health issue. One of the most common forms of mental health challenges is depression.
Happily, there are proven ways we can help ourselves recover from depression, and one of those is regular exercise. The 2005 study “Exercise treatment for depression: efficacy and dose response”, published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, found the “public health dose” (exercising 5x/week, and burning 17.5 kcal/kg/week) led to depression remission rates of 42%.
As a comparison, the Collaborative Depression Study found that cognitive behavioural therapy (or CBT) has a remission rate of 36%, and antidepressant medication 42%.
The big takeaway: Exercise showed the same remission rates as antidepressant medication! This shows us that exercise is an important part of our holistic approach in tackling depression.
Why is exercise good for depression?
The three basic elements of brain health, according to Datis Kharrazian, author of “Why Isn’t My Brain Working?” are:
Exercise causes us to breathe more and increases our heart rates, which increases blood flow. This circulates more oxygen through our whole body, including our brains.
Exercise also improves our body's use of glucose (sugars from carbohydrates), and increases sensitivity to insulin. Improved insulin sensitivity means balanced blood sugar. This means our brain gets the balanced fuel it needs for health.
And all movement, especially vigorous exercise, provides stimulation of neurotransmitter activity in the brain.
Additionally, exercise produces feel-good endorphins, relieves stress, and helps us sleep, which all help to manage depression.
What kind of exercise is best?
Exercise means any physical movement that requires effort. It doesn’t mean we need to run marathons, lift heavy weights, or turn ourselves into pretzels at yoga (but we could, if that’s our thing!).
But what’s best: strength, cardio, or flexibility?
The truth is, all of them are beneficial. Unless we are specialized, elite athletes, it is best for us to regularly do a variety of different physical activities that engages our ability to exert physical force (strength), our physical endurance (cardiovascular), and our ranges of motion (flexibility).
If you are already exercising, keep it up, knowing it’s important to maintain mental as well as your physical health. If you’re just starting out, remember that any exercise is better than no exercise. Start with gentle daily movement and simply sitting less. Here are some general exercise recommendations:
not getting the full complement of the 7 vitamins and 23 amino acids found in Freeminos in your diet, you won’t have all the building blocks your brain and body needs to run all its chemical reactions. When your body doesn’t get all these amino acids, it has to break down tissues like muscles to sustain vital functions. Unfortunately, if you have a health condition like depression, or experience a lot of physical or mental stress you have a higher risk of this breakdown occurring.
So take your Truehope Freeminos, and remember to have grace with yourself.
What will you do today to get moving? Share with us on Facebook, we love hearing from you!
We want to provide nothing but the highest quality information and advice for our followers to improve their health, which is why at Truehope Canada, we're happy to say our writer is a Certified Life Coach and Registered Holistic Nutritionist.