Mental Health Is a Part of Overall Health—And We Need to Pay More Attention to It
Eating well and getting fit are important, but they aren't a replacement for seeking help when necessary.
This week has been difficult for fans of food or fashion. On Tuesday, news broke that designer Kate Spade had been found dead of apparent suicide, and this morning we awoke to the news that chef and author Anthony Bourdain has died as well, the same way.
The media world (and food media in particular) can seem small at times. Many of us worked with or knew Bourdain personally. But almost all of us have been influenced by him in one way or another. His death is shocking and unexpected. We are all a little rocked, here.
But it's clear that these two high profile deaths have not happened in a vacuum. They are part of a larger problem: According to the Centers for Disease Control, suicide rates have been rising across the country, growing by more than 30% in some states over the last 19 years. And as the Washington Post notes, it's a growing issue among both men and women.
As we are focused on helping readers get and stay healthy, we feel it's important to address how vital mental health is to overall health and well-being.
Though we occasionally talk about exercise and other health-related issues, including seasonal depression, our focus is, of course, on cooking, and on helping readers such as yourself both learn to cook, and to find ways to cook healthier, with the understanding that cooking more leads to better health.
We publish articles about links between diet and a variety of issues, such as bone health or mental health, but the problems that many people are suffering undergo far beyond any advice that this site—or any other—can reasonably assist with. If your bone is broken, you need to see a doctor. All the articles in the world about bone health won't fix it.
In the same vein, foods that boost mood are fine in general, but if you or someone you love is suffering from true depression, it's important to seek medical care. We feel no shame about going to a doctor for high blood pressure, or heart disease, or for injured limbs. But when our brains fail to work as they should, we tend to feel guilty, as if there is something wrong with us, personally. And it can be tempting to hide, or to seek solutions that don't involve professional help.
Mental illness should be treated like any other illness. We can make lifestyle choices to decrease our risks, but if we're unlucky enough to suffer from it, there should be no shame in seeking treatment, or in taking steps to take care of ourselves. Being healthy—or getting healthy—is the ultimate goal.
In that vein we urge anyone who feels as if it would be useful, to seek counseling sooner rather than later, and to avoid letting small problems grow into unmanageably large ones before finding help. But if you or someone you love is in an emergency, please visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or call 1-800-273-TALK (8255). You do not have to solve this on your own.