I'm proud to be an Ambassador of The Black Dog Institute's Exercise Your Mood Month. We know that mood disorders will affect approximately 1 in 7 Australians and, according to the World Health Organisation, depression will be the number one cause of disability by 2030.
Due to the success of last year's "Week", this year they have super-sized and upgraded to an entire Month! Exercise Your Mood Month is The Black Dog Institute's national campaign to increase awareness about the importance of regular exercise for maintaining good mental health. Research by the Institute has shown that people who exercise regularly experience fewer symptoms of depression and anxiety.
On my Rural Mental Health Services consultation tour, I've noticed that the ‘exercise your mood' approach is being taken up by community and neighbourhood houses to foster mental health and wellbeing. I've been hearing some great stories of zumba classes, meditation and walking groups - and how indispensable they have become for many.
I know, myself, how important it is for me to get to my Pilates class after a stressful week in the "Big House on the Hill" in Canberra! I'm sure my longsuffering (if loving) family could testify to the beneficial effects of exercise on my mood!
Given that less than 50% of Australians experiencing a mood disorder will seek professional help, it's crucial that we are all aware of the symptoms of depression and offer support to those who appear at-risk.
Let's work to de-stigmatise the issue of depression and mood disorders by talking about these things as a community - with no shame.
The Black Dog Institute believes everyone deserves peace of mind, and I absolutely agree!