Typically society defines health in a specific way. Often when we are determining if someone is healthy we look at their appearance, what they eat, how fit they are and if they suffer from any known physical health issues. If someone has a good level of fitness, has a healthy BMI, generally eats a nutritious and balanced diet, doesn’t suffer from any physical health conditions and asserts that they are physically fit and healthy we may be missing a vital piece of the wellbeing puzzle.

Physical health is of course important. However mental health is something which can dramatically affect the life of an individual and because it’s not visible like a broken bone, or an unhealthy BMI, it can often be overlooked by patients and doctors alike, especially when the patient is physically healthy and takes great care to maintain an optimum physical health.

Eating disorders, anxiety, depression, addictive behaviours, substance abuse and OCD, are just a few of the debilitating mental health conditions which can manifest themselves in anyone, no matter how outwardly “healthy” they appear.

The fact is, regardless whether we admit it to ourselves or others, mental health disorders are staggeringly common today. The statistics show that “mental health problems are one of the main causes of the overall disease burden worldwide[1].” In the UK, each year it’s estimated that 1 in 4 people will have experienced symptoms of a mental health problem. Those that do suffer with mental health issues are expected to die 10.2 years earlier than those that don’t, according to study published in the Lancet[2]. This study shows that mental illness has a greater impact on our mortality rates than smoking, but still so many of us are loathe to look into ways to help ourselves.

Today numerous studies have been done showing that mental health problems like anxiety and depression can be just as detrimental to your future physical health as obesity and smoking. For example a study in the United States showed that ‘those living with high levels of anxiety and depression were 65% more likely to develop a heart condition, 64% more likely to have a stroke, 50% more likely to develop high blood pressure, and 87% more likely to have arthritis than people who did not have anxiety or depression.[3]

When mental health issues are demonstrated to have equally, if not more, of a health impact on us as some of the leading physical illnesses, why aren’t we doing the same for our mental health as we would for our physical health, and even our physical appearance? If we are overweight, most of us will diet or go to the gym or do some other form of exercise. If our hair looks unkempt, we’ll go to the hairdresser. We’ll seek medical advice if our bodies don’t feel right or we notice a mole has changed colour or grown bigger. Why is it then, that we are so reluctant to do anything to help our mental health? Shouldn’t we consider illnesses that affect our minds just as important as those that affect our bodies?

In order for us to have optimal health, we need to realise that it’s more than just a physical thing. Going for a mental health check up should be no different to deciding to look after yourself a bit more by going to the gym. At Behavioural Wealth, we offer a two day Advanced Health Assessment in a quiet and private Central London Location, close to Mayfair. This is a thorough physical, mental and nutritional health check up which will be followed by expert advice from our team of medical and therapeutic professionals on how to ensure you look after every health, not just the physical, to the best of your ability.

[1] Vos, T., et al. (2013) Global, regional, and national incidence, prevalence, and years lived with disability for 301 acute and chronic diseases and injuries in 188 countries, 1990–2013: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study. The Lancet. 386 (9995). pp. 743-800.

[2] Erlangsen, Annette et al. “Cause-specific life-years lost in people with mental disorders: a nationwide, register-based cohort study.” The lancet. Psychiatry 4 12 (2017): 937-945 .

[3] Niles, A. N., & O’Donovan, A. (2019). Comparing anxiety and depression to obesity and smoking as predictors of major medical illnesses and somatic symptoms. Health Psychology, 38(2), 172-181.