A bite of information | Blog
Nourishing Minds, Bodies and Spirits
May is Mental Health Awareness month and the Canadian Mental Health Association recognizes May 6-12 as Mental Health Week. With this topic being top-of-mind, we want to explore the link between mental health and food insecurity.
How does food insecurity relate to mental health issues? Consider if you are anxious about running out of food, or stressed about not knowing where your next meal is coming from, or how you will feed your children. This can be crushing to your mental health. If you must sacrifice meals to pay for rent, or make poor dietary decisions because of budget, food insecurity will not only affect your physical health but also your mental health. This can be debilitating, and lead to episodes of depression, withdrawal from friends and activities, or exacerbate already existing conditions. It’s a vicious cycle.
According to PROOF – Food Insecurity Policy Research – Canadian adults living in food insecure households are at a greater risk of poor mental health. From depressive and suicidal thoughts; anxiety and mood disorders; to major depressive episodes, all increasing with the severity of food insecurity. For children, problems like hyperactivity and inattention are elevated. PROOF’s research makes the connection that the experiences of hunger during childhood have a serious and lasting impacts on mental health, manifesting in greater risks of depression and suicidal idealization in adolescence and early adulthood. Add income problems, physical health issues, extensive health care visits combined with the inability to work or go to school, and all of this can contribute to a downward spiral deeper into poverty.
At the Calgary Food Bank we know food is just the beginning of the conversation. We take the stress of food insecurity literally right off the table and help clients make connections to mental health resources. Imagine the relief receiving seven to ten days’ worth of nutritious food; dinners for your family, school lunches for the kids. Being food secure can lead to resiliency. The health effects of a quality emergency food hamper together with utilizing the amazing mental health resources in the community can create a better sense of self, better able to cope with stress and get you on a path to enjoying life!