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Introduction to adolescent mental health
Introduction to adolescent mental health

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3 Food, exercise and sleep

Health and wellbeing are dependent on diet, exercise and sleep, and these three aspects of lifestyle are linked to mental health. Enjoying a family meal, getting out in the fresh air or playing a team sport, and having a good night’s sleep could give immediate benefits to a young person’s mood. Longer term, healthy living habits promote healthy growth and development of body and brain. This section addresses the questions ‘How do healthy lifestyle habits support mental health?’ and ‘How can you encourage a healthier lifestyle without making things worse?’

As you work through this section, you will notice that much of the evidence for the mental health benefits of these lifestyle factors is nevertheless tentative. It is often not possible to determine whether adopting healthy lifestyles can improve mental health, or whether researchers are just observing that the two are linked for other reasons. This section will guide you carefully through the scientific evidence and mental health practices that link lifestyle with mental health.