Celebrate Mental Health Awareness Day with BOKS

Today is Mental Health Awareness day, and here at BOKS we felt it important to take the time to celebrate the fact that this once highly stigmatized issue is finally getting the attention it deserves. While we’ve made strides with awareness – we still have a lot of work to do if we want to reverse trends showing an increasing number of people suffering from mental health conditions, specifically children:

Approximately 6.1 million children in the U.S. aged 2-17 years old have received an ADHD diagnosis while 4.4 million have diagnosed anxiety, and 1.9 million have diagnosed depression.

These numbers are staggering, but what’s more shocking is that many of these kids and teens don’t receive treatment for their disorders. Approximately 80% of kids with diagnoseable anxiety disorder and 60% of kids with diagnoseable depression are not getting treatment.

There are medications and various prescriptions children can be put on to aid in the symptoms of their mental health disorders. These medications, such as Ritalin and Adderall, however, all have various side effects!

The commonality of mental disorders has increased over the years and to us, it isn’t a coincidence that at the time recess and physical education are being cut from a typical school day and kids spending more time on our phones, on the couch watching TV, and not playing outside.

Many doctors are now prescribing play and physical activity as a means to alleviate symptoms of anxiety, depression, and behavioral disorders.

A new study conducted at the University of Vermont, “advocates for exercise as a fundamental treatment” for patients diagnosed with a range of mental disorders from anxiety, to depression, and even schizophrenia, suicidality and acute psychotic episodes.  The research found that physical exercise is “so effective at alleviating patient symptoms that it could reduce patients’ time admitted to acute facilities and reliance on psychotropic medications.”

But you don’t need to be diagnosed with a mental disorder to reap the many mental and emotional benefits from exercise. Moving your body daily is simple and for some just means walking around more. According to a recent study done by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, just 15 minutes of running a day or an hour of walking has been shown to reduce the risk of major depression by 26%.  Whatever movement is fun and gets your heart rate elevated above your resting bpm (beats per minute) is all that matters.

To further drive home the positive effects of physical activity on one’s mental well-being, a number of researchers analyzed data from survey results from over 1.2 million people during the years 2011, 2013, and 2015. Researchers compared the number of days with “bad self-reported mental health between individuals who exercised and those who did not.” The study then examined the effects of exercise type, duration, and frequency to see if exercise helped, hurt, or was neutral in regard to one’s mental state and well-being.

The study found that individuals who exercised at least three to five times per week for a duration of 45 minutes, reported experiencing 1.5 fewer days of poor mental health (compared to 3.4 days reported by those that did not exercise).

Exercise is a miracle drug that not enough people are taking advantage of. Moving, sweating, and varying your cardiovascular output on a daily basis will not only change your body physically, but it will better your mind, mood, and mental state as well.

A study conducted by Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital on the efficacy of BOKS and the impact our program has on a child’s well-being proved that running around in the morning really does make a difference. The study found that kids who participated in BOKS 2-3 times per week had improved social-emotional wellness and reported higher positive affect.

As a free physical activity program, our mission is to make physical activity and play a part of every childs’ day. We aim to provide the tools and resources to our community to get more kids moving and in turn create a healthier and happier generation of active kids!