Wellness Coordinators: Are You Addressing the Positive Side of Health? (Start Today)

The focus of health and wellness professionals today is on disease and problems – in other words, what’s wrong (negative health). Wouldn’t you rather be focusing instead on positive health, or in other words, what’s right?

Health Today

Health today has a disease focus – a focus on risk reduction, avoidance, prevention and treatment of disease, infirmity and disability. This focus stems, no doubt, from medicine and its focus on pathogenesis, which is the study of the origin of disease. In a pathogenic model – health is measured by the incidence of disease or health related problems. Success in the pathogenic model is measured by the avoidance or elimination of problems, diseases and premature death.

Health is often depicted as being a continuum, with one end being premature death and the other end being wellness. The mid-point of the continuum is often described as being a neutral point where no discernible illness or wellness can be detected. If success in the pathogenic model is the avoidance or elimination of problems or disease, then success in this case this does not create a state of wellness, but instead a point there is no discernible illness or wellness. The betterment of health or the movement towards wellness would then require that deliberate, specific concrete actions to be taken.

The necessity of taking deliberate, concrete action to achieve optimal health, positive health or high level wellness would be consistent with what researchers have found in other areas. Researchers have shown that eliminating negatives alone does not, in and of itself, create positive conditions. Some examples that demonstrate what I am saying would include:

• Herzberg who showed that eliminating dissatisfaction does not create satisfaction

• Compton who showed that eliminating depression does not create joy

• Seligman who showed that mental health was not the mere absence of mental illness

• Becker and colleagues who showed that ending disease does not create positive health

Instead of aiming for a return to neutral or the status quo, a focus on positive health moves our focus towards outcomes that exceed our expectations, in other words, our idealized outcomes.

Positive Health

Positive health has its roots in the salutogenesis model. Salutogenesis provides a focus and methodology to discover and develop the causes or origins of positive health. Salutogenesis complements pathogenesis by working to optimize health and well-being through continuous and never-ending improvement. Salutogenesis is about how to add positive actions, opportunities, conditions and outcomes to move us beyond the neutral point to higher, positive levels.

Positive health is a deliberate consciouly created dynamic state. Positive health has also beed described as well-being, thriving or flourishing.

To achieve and continually improve positive health, a supportive, nurturing and encouraging environment must be consciously and thoughtfully developed and continuously improved. This supportive and nurturing environment is a necessary ingredient in the behavior change process.

Positive states are created through deliberate, conscious effort and action. To create positive states, specific efforts must be taken that go just beyond the elimination of health risks and problems. These specific efforts need to be supported through the use of following 9 Es and 1 C:

  • Engagement
  • Education
  • Empowerment
  • Effectiveness
  • Enablement
  • Evaluation
  • Emotions
  • Energy
  • Expectations
  • Comprehensive

Use these 9 Es and 1 C in your worksite wellness program to help your employees achieve positive health.

If you are interested in reading more, consider these references:

Antonovsky, A. (1979) Health, stress and coping. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Becker, C. M., Dolbier, C.L., Durham, T., Glascoff, M. A., & Adams, T.B. Development and preliminary evaluation of the validity and reliability of a positive health scale. (2008). American Journal of Health Education, 39(1), 34-41.

Becker, C. M., Moore, J., Whetstone, L., Glascoff, M., Chaney, E., Felts, M., & Anderson, L., (2009). Validity Evidence for the Salutogenic Wellness Promotion Scale (SWPS). American Journal of Health Behavior, 33(4), 455-465.

Becker, C., Glascoff, M., & Felts, W. (2010) Salutogenesis 30 years later: Where do we go from here? International Electronic Journal of Health Education, 13, 25-32.

Compton, W. C. (2005). Introduction to positive psychology. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Dunn H. L. (1961). High-level wellness: A collection of twenty-nine short talks on different aspects of the theme “High-level wellness for man and society.” Arlington, VA: R.W. Beatty Co.

Herzberg F. (2003). One more time: How do you motivate employees? Harvard Business Review, 81(1), 86-96. (Original work published 1968).

Seligman, M. E. P. (2008). Positive health. Applied Psychology, 57(s1), 3-18.

Mental Health Nursing in the UK

If you would like to work as a mental health nurse (RMN) in the UK you will need to register with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) under Part 1 and 3 of the Register.

RMNs can work across the complete range of mental illnesses. They work to prevent mental illness as well as manage mental and physical disorders. RMNs work as part of a team including GPs, psychiatrists, social workers and other health professionals. They can also work with patients in their own private homes and residential units

Mental Health positions can be accessed through various UK job sites. Due to the chronic shortage of nurses in the UK employers are proactively widening their recruitment nets abroad to try and cover their vacancies. This is seen by many foreign nurses as a great opportunity to work in the NHS and experience life in the United Kingdom.

Healthcare agencies provide facilities such as a CV creator service and instant forwarding services. Agency websites also provide information on events, conferences and exhibitions related to mental health nursing jobs in the UK. The role demands lots of dedication and care, so you need to discuss the job profile with your future employers in advance of accepting a position.
Mental health nurse deals with the following cares:

* Addictions Psychiatry

* Child and Adolescent Care

* Emergency/Crisis Intervention

* General Psychiatry

* Geriatrics Psychiatry

* Neuropsychiatry Care

* HM prisons

We can sum up the responsibilities of mental health nurses under the following points:

* Reassuring patients about their treatments

* Systematic care and medication

* Attend to patients and discuss their needs and concerns

* Winning the confidence of patients

* Counseling

* Coordination with other health professionals

* Motivating patients to take part in art, drama or occupational therapy

* Organizing social events

* Maintaining patient records

* Developing care plans and risk assessments

Summary : Registered Mental Health Nurses work across a wide range of Mental Health areas. Many nurses will specialize in certain areas building up their expertise in a variety of Environments. Recruitment agencies can play an important part in this by providing the link between nurse and employer.

Does Exercise Enhance Mental Health?

It’s hardly news that exercise and fitness deliver health benefit. However, it may not be general knowledge that exercise also impacts mental health positively.

The best part is that you can get all the values that fitness offers no matter how you choose to exercise – working out alone, embarking on a weight loss boot camp program, or hiring the services of a personal trainer.

Exercise aids mental health improvement through various psychological and physiological effects such as the following;

• It stimulates the release of the chemicals that trigger happy mood

• It promotes quality sleep

• It trains the body on how to better manage stressful situations

• It helps build self-esteem and self-worth.

Stimulation of Endorphins and Seratonin Release

Through studies, it has been shown that exercise and fitness aid the release of two chemicals responsible for good mood. The neuropeptides known as endorphins are created by the central nervous system. These chemicals make you to feel less pain, strengthen your immune response, and promote an ecstatic sensation.

Antidepressants target the neurotransmitter Seratonin. When the chemical is released in larger quantity, it promotes the ability of exercise to ease acute depression.

Quality Sleep

Better and more sleep aided by regular exercise can enhance your mental health. It has been shown that regular workout and fitness activities can make you fall asleep faster. And, you are also able to sleep for a longer time, which will increase your sleep hours ultimately and boost your mental health.

Exercise aids longer slow wave sleep – the sleep stage known to offer the most benefit for both body repair and maintenance, and reduces the restless sleep stage which is the rapid-eye movement sleep.

In addition, quality sleep reduces the risk of depression and anxiety according to a 2006 study featured in the Journal of Sleep Research.

Also, a 2012 study featured in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology reveals that quality sleep may be an effective antidote for mood swings and energy shifts resulting from bipolar disorder.

Additional Benefits

Exercising regularly may also enhance mental capacity since an individual is able to experience a sense of accomplishment in the course of an enriching workout.

Exercise can also aid you to take your mind off a stressful situation, and would lower body fat along with healthy weight loss meals.

And, when your body fat gives way for well-toned muscles and attractive body, your confidence and self-esteem will definitely soar.

Obviously, exercise enhances your mental health among other great benefits.

Obtain Emotional Stability That Supports Positive Thinking Through Mindful Meditation

Mindfulness meditation is a simple form of meditation based on the Buddhist Vipassana meditation method. This form of meditation may also be referred to as Insight Meditation, to see things as they really are.

During the meditation, the meditator sits in observance of all things, their surroundings, their breath, and their thoughts without judgement, exercising compassion, patience, and acceptance for all things.

While it has Buddhist roots, the practice evolved based on research regarding the mind-body connection’s influence on good health. This meditation method does not have religious or philosophical dogmas attached to it.

The practice may be accessed by anyone of any background with beneficial outcomes. Mindfulness encourages and cultivates the art of paying attention without engaging with or attaching meaning to the events, thoughts, and emotions in a manner, which causes conflict or anxiety.

Why Practice Mindful Meditation

In various studies, participants who practiced mindfulness meditation for eight weeks to six months experienced a reduction in anxiety, depression, and physical pain symptoms.

A study conducted by Mass General Hospital and Boston University found these effects presented even when the participants were not actively meditating. The study also found other long-term benefits of meditation practice:

  • Practicing meditation trains the brain to process emotion differently lending stability to an individual’s emotional state as well as decreasing depression and anxiety.

  • Participants learned to process information without immediate reaction or by responding differently.

The study employed two forms of meditation, compassion meditation and mindfulness meditation. Compassion meditation focuses on teaching practitioners to observe experiences, themselves, and others through a lens of loving kindness and compassion. Mindfulness meditation teaches practitioners to observe thoughts and experiences without attaching meaning, to simply observe what is.

Brain scans were taken while participants viewed positive images, negative images and neutral images. This was repeated during and after their participation in the meditation program.

The results indicate that people who participated in the study showed less activity in the emotion and memory center of the brain, the amygdala.

  • The compassion meditation participants presented lowered activity in the amygdala when shown positive and neutral images; the activity in the amygdala increased when they were shown negative images, which showed some form of human suffering.

  • The mindfulness meditation participants showed an overall decrease of activity in the amygdala to all images, positive, negative, and neutral.

The results from the two groups support the study’s hypothesis. Based on the mindfulness meditation results, meditation improves the emotional stability and stress response.

Participants in the compassion meditation group returned lower depression scores.

How Does It Work

Gaëlle Desbordes, PhD, a research fellow at the Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging at MGH and at the BU Center for Computational Neuroscience and Neural Technology, who shared authorship of the study reports, explains the study results, “We think these two forms of meditation cultivate different aspects of mind.

Since compassion meditation is designed to enhance compassionate feelings, it follows that it does increase the amygdala response in the brain to watching people suffer. Increased amygdala activation correlated to lower depression levels in the compassion meditation group, which could mean that having more compassion towards others certainly benefits oneself.

Overall, these results are consistent with the overarching hypothesis that meditation may result in enduring, beneficial changes in brain function, especially in the area of emotional processing.”

How Long Do The Benefits Last

The follow-up observations for the Mass General Hospital and Boston University study were conducted three weeks following its conclusion. This study shows meditators experience the benefits of emotional stability and decreased depression and anxiety when not meditating.

The results of this study also indicate the benefits of meditation extend beyond immediate participation in a meditation program. Whether or not the benefits are sustained beyond this period requires further study. The effects of meditation on emotional stability without a program environment as well as the level of independent practice by participants necessary to experience the same benefits seem to be the next avenues of inquiry.

How This Benefits You

The fact that mindful meditation involves exercising compassion, patience, and acceptance for all things can serve us in a variety of ways. Obtaining emotional stability is a benefit in itself, but it can further serve us in many ways.

In mindful meditation and emotional stability, one can achieve a higher understanding and appreciation of self, which makes for a more positive attitude towards life. Several studies have shown positive thinking to be of benefit to our health.

Positive thinking is known to have a wide reach in serving our health, both physical and emotional. Optimists have better immunity, less depression and anxiety and better heart health.

Positive thinkers are also better able to deal with stress because they are more resilient and have the ability to face challenges and adversity with a positive outlook. This makes them more resistant to and better able to avoid the harmful effects that stress hormones have on the body.

Mindful meditation can help with developing a strong positive attitude, which in turn can greatly improve our health and wellness.