September is physical activity and mental health month so we thought of touching base with some of our returning athletes from the recent Pacific Games in Papua New Guinea to get their thoughts on physical activity and mental health.
Our next athlete is William Qounadou who won silver as part of the men’s basketball team.
What are the first images that come to mind when you see ‘physical activity’ and ‘mental health’?
I imagine running and seeing a person walking around aimlessly, talking to themselves.
Okay, what about the first words?
Exercise and ‘mad’
How important was physical activity growing up as a kid?
It has made me the person I am today
So what do you notice most about yourself when you’re not physically active or you’re feeling ‘down’?
I get injured easily and become lazy.
What about bouncing back to reach your goals? How do you deal with pressure?
A positive mindset goes a long way and knowing that everything happens for a reason. If I am struggling to stay positive, I talk to friends and just try and do what I know to do.
How do you promote physical activity at home with your family?
I wake up and chase everybody outside to do something. I think the best start is through leading by example.
Finally, what message would you give Fijians about physical activity and mental health?
Never lose hope – there is always a second chance!
Health: Let’s move Fiji!
September marks Physical Activity month in the Health Calender and it is important to be reminded of the health benefits that we can get from just simply moving.
Physical activity reduces the risk of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as heart disease, diabetes and mental illness. Being active keeps the mind and body fresh & healthy bringing extra strength, stamina and flexibility with a positive body image.
The non-communicable disease crisis in Fiji is predicted to worsen with increasing problems of unhealthy lifestyle and behaviour according to the recently released STEPs Survey 2011. Inactivity is a contributing factor towards the risk of establishing NCDs.
Despite the positive health effects that physical activity has on the prevention of these chronic lifestyle diseases, the levels of physical activity in Fiji are alarmingly low. Fijians are not meeting moving enough to meet the recommended levels for health.
The Hon. Minister for Health & Medical Services Mr Jone Usamate said, “Too many Fijians are currently suffering from NCDs that can be prevented through lifestyle changes such as adopting a healthier diet and increasing levels of physical activity”.
“The Ministry of Health recommends 30 mins of moderate physical activity for adults and 60 mins of play time for children on 5 or more days per week. Incorporating physical activity into your everyday routine can be easy and free”.
8th September also marked World Physical Therapy Day, an opportunity for physical therapists to raise awareness in keeping people well, mobile and independent.
The Ministry of Health & Medical Services Physiotherapy department at CWM Hospital will also be launching a 30 minute physical activity DVD which is inclusive of all and can be done by all ages and for those with disabilities who don’t have any health complications. These DVDs are free of charge and are available at the Wellness centre.
Meanwhile, Fijians are encouraged to engage in physical activity and a balanced diet. Incorporating physical activity and proper nutrition will contribute to the overall wellness of everyone, healthy or sick.
This is the first of a series of articles, which are written around the celebrations of World Suicide Prevention Day (September 10) and World Mental Health Day (October 10) to raise awareness on issues concerning mental health.
There is evidence that people do not relate well to the term “mental health”. When we hear the term, we think “mental illness” and negative words associated with it like “madness” and “stigma” and “discrimination”. So when we talk positively about people’s emotional/psychological/spiritual health, experts around the world advocated that we use the term “wellbeing” or “emotional wellbeing” to describe good mental health.
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines mental health as a state of wellbeing in which every individual realises his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.
In Fiji in recent years there has been a shift away from a focus on illness alone, to more attention on wellness, both in policy and health practice. Fiji is a leader in this field with the creation of the National Wellness Centre in the Ministry of Health. Illness and wellness are now considered to be more than simply two ends of a continuum, but separately operating dimensions. It is the same with mental illness and emotional wellbeing. Emotional wellbeing is seen as a very important part of wellness. A person can still have high emotional wellbeing even if she or he has a mental illness, or a physical illness.
It is strongly believed by modern medical scientists that some serious mental illnesses are caused genetically or biochemically. These include psychoses (common symptoms are being out of touch with reality evidenced by hearing voices and believing things that are not true) and major depression. Only a small percentage of the population suffer from these illnesses. So both researchers and clinicians are moving away from viewing mental health in terms of the presence or absence of symptoms. Instead, they have been trying to discover what it means to be in good mental health, and what we can do to nurture our own mental wellbeing. For most of us, this is our challenge in the ever-changing world with its many pressures.
Countries including Fiji, New Zealand and Great Britain are teaching that there are 5 ways to wellbeing: Give, Connect, Be Active, Take Notice (or be curious), and Keep Learning. We will talk about these in a future article.