Neighborhoods all across the nation are starting a human quest toward wellness with rails to trails, community gardens, recycling and state parks accessible to most. Given this national campaign, why do people with mental health challenges die decades earlier than the general population? Many point to the observable: smoking, obesity, psychotropic medications and lack of exercise. What we tend to overlook is that when people live below the poverty level, candy bars, chips and fast food are cheaper than fruits, vegetables and fresh fish. And where are the grocery stores in inner city poverty areas anyway? Convenience stores are on every street corner. What we tend to overlook is that Gina Calhoun (The Copeland Center) shared her personal story of mental health recovery after 17 years of back-to-back institutionalization and escaping from Harrisburg State Hospital to live on the streets. Calhoun highlighted that people with mental health challenges often feel “apart from” rather than “a part of” their neighborhood and live in social isolation, and went on to explore the link of mental health to healthy eating, exercise, and access to the outdoors.
This Speakers Series event was held in conjunction with the 2012 Go Local for Health Summit.