OAK RIDGE,TN (WLAF)- In a world that increasingly recognizes the importance of mental health, Ridgeview Behavioral Health Services is taking a resolute stand to promote suicide prevention awareness through the powerful medium of exercise during national suicide prevention awareness month.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released provisional data indicating that more people have died by suicide in 2022 than ever before. The data shows that approximately 49,449 people died by suicide in 2022 – which is nearly 15 deaths for every 100,000 people. With the alarming rise in suicide rates, it has become imperative to address mental health issues proactively, and Ridgeview is determined to make a difference.

Suicide is a complex and sensitive issue that impacts individuals, families, and communities worldwide. Ridgeview believes that by focusing on prevention, education, support, and treatment we can work together to make a significant impact on reducing suicide rates. One of the pivotal aspects of this multifaceted approach is the incorporation of exercise into mental health management.

Exercise has been proven time and again to have an incredibly positive impact on mental well-being. Physical activity not only contributes to improving physical health but also plays a vital role in enhancing mental resilience. Engaging in regular exercise has been linked to reduced stress, anxiety, and depression levels. It stimulates the release of endorphins, often referred to as “feel-good” hormones, which can uplift one’s mood and promote a sense of well-being.

Dr. Renu Bhateja M.D., psychiatrist and Chief Medical Officer of Ridgeview, emphasizes, “Many studies have shown exercise can improve mental health as it releases natural brain chemicals like dopamine and serotonin, which improves mood, quality of sleep, and overall cognition. It also includes other health benefits like reducing risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and dealing with chronic pain. Physical activity doesn’t just have a direct impact on brain chemistry, but it can also provide individuals with a sense of accomplishment, routine, and a positive outlet for stress.”

Dr. Peter Attia, a respected authority in the field of emotional health and well-being, states in his new book Outlive: The Science & Art of Longevity, “Our emotions are like a compass guiding us through life. Just as we need physical exercise to keep our bodies fit, we also require emotional exercise to keep our minds resilient. Engaging in regular physical activity has been shown to have a positive impact on our emotional state, fostering a greater sense of control and contentment.”

Through its various initiatives, Ridgeview aims to shed light on the strong connection between exercise and mental health. The agency is working diligently to spread awareness about the benefits of physical activity, both in terms of preventing suicide and maintaining overall mental well-being. This includes hosting community events like the Oak Ridge Fall Classic 5k as part of elevating public awareness around suicide prevention and the value of incorporating exercise into daily routines. The 5k takes place Sept. 16 in Oak Ridge during the month-long national campaign.

Ridgeview invites everyone to work together in creating communities where mental health is valued and supported. By recognizing the potential of exercise to positively impact mental well-being, we can take significant strides towards reducing the stigma associated with mental health issues, prevent suicides, and take vital steps towards to hope, healing, and recovery.