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Modifiable Risk Factors for People with Mental Health & Substance Use Disorders

Zim Okoli
June 27, 2018

Dr. Zim Okoli shares 5 modifiable risk factors for people living with mental health and substance use disorders:

  1. Poverty: Dr. Okoli states that people are not born impoverished but born into societies where there is inequitable distributions of wealth. Many of these situations are modifiable with the addition of tailored policies to specific needs in order to eliminate these issues.
  2. Obesity is of great concern for those with mental health issues. Many medicines cause weight gain. Part of the treatment plan needs to include good nutrition education, adequate exercise, and enough sleep.
  3. Some medication side effects can cause heart problems, creating a need for other prescriptions to counteract those risks. It is important to advise patients to eat heart healthy, low cholesterol foods to maintain heart health.
  4. Substance use such as alcohol and drugs can affect those with mental illness. The substance may mimic mental illness making the illness difficult to diagnose. Or people experiencing new mental health problems may try to self medicate to help manage the illness, often making it worse.
  5. A lack of access to resources such as no transportation or no healthcare providers in the area can cause significant problems to those with mental health issues. Telehealth and mailing medications has helped combat this. 

SAMHSA has done a great job in giving resources and evidence-based research to help those living with mental illness. We are grateful to have an organization furthering research on this topic! Visit SAMHSA for more information on their dimensions of wellness.

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