Researcher urges same focus from government on mental health as physical health

Credit: Morguefile

Professor Barbara Sahakian says it’s time to put the same focus on mental health as we do on physical health. Sahakian who is an expert on cognitive enhancers says mental health is just as important as physical health. We all know the importance of exercise and diet, but there isn't the same emphasis on staying mentally fit. 

Brain issues are a leading cause of disability, but Sahakian says mental health is something we take for granted.

"Just as joggers check their pulse rate, we should encourage individuals to regularly keep an eye on the state of their mental health. Often people wait too long to seek help, making their condition more difficult to treat.”

To help improve mental health she recommends innovation and technology. “Innovation which promotes enjoyable cognitive training for example through the use of games on iPads and mobile phone apps will be of great benefit to healthy people and those with mental health problems alike”

She also says it’s essential for technology that can identify brain problems and monitor mental health problems so treatment can be started early. Shifting the way society views emotional health could lead to prevention.

Sahakian whose research at University of Cambridge, UK is focused on finding treatments for memory loss and behavioral and psychological dysfunction is presenting her findings at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAA) meeting, 2013.

Statistics included in her findings include:

  • Just forty percent of people with dementia are aware they have it
  • High cost of disability from mental health issues in the UK
  • Cost effectiveness of early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease

"We need to educate the public about what to look for and make them aware of the importance of early detection and intervention” of mental health problems, Sahakian said in a press release. The challenge is to promote mental health with the same vigor as physical health. 

February 17, 2013