Getting physical

This is an article for the Glamorgan Gazette and South Wales Evening Post

The job of an Assembly Member is by nature a sedentary one. It can also be very busy, quite stressful and leads to me often eating at odd hours, not always eating healthily or sometimes missing meals altogether.

This was why I was pleased to back the 'Let's Get Physical!' Campaign 2014, which is a joint initiative supported bymental health charities Hafal, Bipolar UK and the Mental Health Foundation.

People with a serious mental illness have a life expectancy around 17 years lower than the general population. This is mainly caused by preventable physical health problems. Eighty per cent of carers have seen a negative impact on their physical health as a result of caring and many put this down to a lack of practical support.

The campaign is primarily about people with a serious mental illness and their carers taking action themselves to improve their own physical health. It involves people setting their own goals by sourcing and preparing healthy, high quality, good value food, finding ways to become more active and being assertive in getting the right support from health professionals to stay well.

Throughout the summer events will give service users and carers across Wales the opportunity to get a physical health check up from a qualified healthcare professional, take part in physical activities, receive practical information and advice about how to minimise the side-effects of medication, take part in cookery sessions and get advice andinformation on nutrition and diet and get advice on reducing drug/alcohol/nicotine intake.

It is a campaign that can make a real difference. Keep an eye out for the events in our area.

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