The world is abuzz with health-related issues discussed under the banner of health and wellness. This is a top concern not only for individuals, but especially for mental health and nursing professionals. Well, it just makes sense to put measures in place that will help people prevent diseases and disorders from happening in the first place … right?!

The Importance of Preventative Care

There is a great deal taking place in these helping professions. We know that preventative health care strategies help lower the risk of diseases and disorders. In fact, “a majority of deaths in the US annually are caused by chronic conditions which are in fact preventable.” While prevention lowers risks, it also keeps costs down. 

And think about what companies must pay when their employees are out sick! Also, as the senior population finds itself working longer to supplement their social security payments, physical and mental health conditions seem to increase. Prevention can help seniors stay healthy while growing older.

The Role of Nurses and Mental Health Professionals in Prevention

Nurses can assist in preventing both diseases and mental health disorders by working collaboratively with mental health care professionals to develop treatment plans geared toward the individuals they serve. We can do this by educating our nurses in preventative care strategies. Nurses can also act as advocates for those who have, or are at risk of developing mental health disorders.

One way to help mental health care workers prevent both diseases and mental health disorders is to transition from being reactive to proactive. “Positive psychology has the potential to address these issues within mental health care and provide primary care providers with strategies to serve their patients more effectively.” For example, with the growing level of scientific studies being conducted with positive psychology, we know that we can improve physical and mental health even in the absence of disease. Well, this is prevention! We can implement these strategies not just in the office, but also in the community through health promotion.

Nutrition: Food as Medicine for Body and Mind

Before we leave this topic, let’s examine the role of nutrition in managing mental health and physiological issues. One example is how nutrition can influence development of depression. Those who have diets high in unhealthy fats, sugar, and refined carbohydrates are at a much higher risk for mental health conditions. But if one’s diet is high in fish, fruits and vegetables, nuts, olive oil, and plant foods, one has a lowered risk of developing depression. While this is great news for mental health care practitioners, it’s also good news for nurses because “healthy eating can also help people with chronic diseases to manage their conditions and prevent complications, which in turn, can positively affect their mental health.”

Working Together for a Healthier Future

What is the future of nursing in preventative care?We live in a digitally-connected world. Empowering patients to take preventative measures to support healthy habits and monitor their health builds disease-resilient communities. Through education, screenings, and monitoring, nurses can help patients take charge of their health and make the necessary changes to lead healthier lives.” If we can find ways to educate patients (especially with the use of apps and telehealth) and the community through strategic partnerships, that can help tremendously with prevention. This empowers and enables people to take charge of their health.

What is the future of mental health care practitioners in preventative care?  Education plays a crucial role in empowering people. In fact, Mental Health America is “promoting public mental health literacy, which includes an understanding vital conditions necessary for basic safety and well-being, and highlighting the protective factors that reduce risk and promote overall health, mental fitness, and resilience.” The promotion of spirituality, mindfulness, and being connected socially is also going forward. The over-whelming conclusion of scientific research is that it is directly related to resilience and overall well-being. And he use of digitized peer support is fast becoming more important.

Working individually is a wonderful thing. Working together is stronger.

Knowledge is power, so take charge of your health!

 

Dr. P