NEWS // April 24, 2017

It's Up to Us Inspires Mental Health Wellness Through Physical Activity

Submitted by Alfredo Aguirre, LCSW., Director, Behavioral Health Services, County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency

In California and around the country, a movement is underway to end the stigma and discrimination against those who experience mental health symptoms and illness. This movement is supported by millions of people who believe that everyone experiencing a mental health challenge deserves the opportunity to live a healthy, happy and meaningful life.

Each May, our community comes together to raise awareness about mental health. As San Diego County begins to develop a heightened awareness of the issues faced by those challenged by mental illness and learns how to improve mental health through prevention, San Diegans are creating opportunities for improved personal wellness.

One opportunity for improved personal and community wellness is physical activity. Exercise not only benefits your physical health but it also improves mental health. The research is conclusive - once you start getting active, even the smallest of physical efforts can create positive changes in overall mental health. The Mayo Clinic reported that exercise can help ease symptoms of mental illness and mild or moderate depression and improves mood in general. For those who suffer with more severe mental health issues, regular physical activity can help symptoms from recurring once a person starts feeling better.

Physical activity improves mental health by:

  • Releasing natural chemicals in the brain (like endorphins) to stimulate positive feelings and new energy
  • Creating a physical calming effect as body temperature rises with exercise

Exercise has a number of emotional benefits too, including:

  • Improved personal confidence when exercise goals are met and a new physical appearance emerges
  • Letting your mind experience a new positive distraction that can help take away negative thoughts or worry

Social interaction and new relationships can be formed during group exercising that can increase the number of new friends and boost your mood.


A great resource for the countywide stigma and discrimination reduction campaign is the County of San Diego’s It’s Up to Us  website, designed to empower San Diegans to talk openly about mental illness, recognize symptoms, utilize local resources and seek help.

By raising awareness and providing access to local resources, It’s Up to Us aims to inspire wellness, reduce stigma and prevent suicide. The website has a full array of on-line resources including resource guides, awareness education, and intervention and recovery information to help support someone you care about.

You can also visit the Behavioral Health Services (BHS) website for the most current events calendar and other activities being offered in support of Mental Health Awareness Month

Get Active! Stay Active! Your mental health will benefit.