Mental Health

Mental Health

This section of the website aims to provide you with information relating to nutrition and physical activity in persons with mental health problems
From this section of the website you can access information relating to policy and strategy, surveys, initiatives, key resources and useful links.
Recent evidence suggests that good nutrition and physical activity may be just as important for our mental health as for chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and obesity and that a number of conditions, including depression, may be influenced by dietary factors levels of activity.

Policy and Strategy

Together for Mental Health – A Strategy for Mental Health and Wellbeing in Wales (2012) A 10-year strategy for improving the lives of people using mental health services, their carers and their families.
The Associate Parliamentary Food and Health Forum is an all-party independent forum for the exchange of views and information on food policy in the UK Parliament. Members of the forum include MPs, Peers, Academics, Food and Health Industry Specialists, Food Research Organisations, Charities and Commercial Food and Health Organisations.
The report examines the scientific evidence on mental health and diet, concentrating on the role of omega-3 fatty acids. It supports Food Standards Agency guidelines that fish consumption should be increased and emphasises the importance of omega-3 fatty acids in the diet of pregnant and breast feeding mothers as well as children.

Data, Research and Surveys

The Welsh Health Survey is published by the Welsh Government. It is a source of information about the health of people living in Wales, the way they use health services and the things that can affect their health. It is largely a self-completion survey and includes questions on age, sex, weight, general health and well being, illness, use of health services, alcohol, fruit and vegetable consumption, physical activity and smoking.
Results of the 2013 Welsh Health Survey  showed that:
  • 9% of adults reported currently being treated for depression
  • 8% of adults reported currently being treated for anxiety
  • 2% of adults reported currently being treated for another mental
  • illness
  • 12% of adults reported currently being treated for any mental illness.
The percentage of adults who reported being treated for depression and for anxiety increased towards middle age before decreasing in retirement age.
A higher percentage of women (14%) than men (9%) reported being treated for any mental illness.
Commuting by walking or cycling ‘can boost mental wellbeing’

New research on walking and cycling supports NICE recommendations that active travel can help boost mental wellbeing. Researchers found that people who walked or cycled to work benefitted from improved mental wellbeing in comparison with those who travelled by car and this supports NICE guidance on walking and cycling which recognises the benefit of active travel on physical and mental health. The research was carried out at the University of East Anglia’s (UEA) Norwich Medical School and the Centre for Health Economic at the University of York and included data on around 18,000 commuters from across the UK over a period of 18 years.

Obesity and Mental Health
This paper presents the current evidence around obesity and mental health in the UK and highlights associations between obesity and common mental health disorders.
Let’s get physical report
This report from the Mental Health Foundation highlights how physical activity is beneficial for people’s mental health and wellbeing. The report highlights the impact that physical activity has on people’s mental health and wellbeing, following a public attitude survey which showed that a quarter of the British public don’t enjoy physical activity.


At a national level there are a number of initiatives taking place to raise the profile of the links between food, physical activity and mental health.
The All Wales Mental Health Promotion Network  provides leadership and focus for public mental health in Wales. The Network will increase public and professional understanding of mental health promotion, share learning and develop evidence and practice around mental health and act as a conduit for the dissemination of promising practice.
World Mental Health Day  has been celebrated annually on 10 October since 1992. Every year a different theme is set by the World Federation for World Mental Health Day.

Sharing Practice – Local Initiatives

Fairbridge Kitchens of Cardiff project involves researching food from the different cultures within Cardiff, the creation of a cheap and culturally recipe book, teaching marginalised youths how to cook them, putting on a cultural buffet spread for community leaders, and the provision of a Basic Food Safety Qualification. It breaks down cultural barriers and takes positive steps to tackle discrimination whilst at the same time putting across a healthy eating message. In addition it is teaching valuable life skills for those who may be becoming independent for the first time. For more information telephone Fairbridge on 02920 303910.
Mentro Allan Merthyr Tydfil and Blaenau Gwent  – Mentro Allan was a joint partnership project which enabled the local community to access the amazing natural resources available to its residents in order to increase physical activity levels and improve health. The project’s primary target group was people with poor mental health.


Food and Mental Health Campaign – aims to increase awareness and understanding of the links between food and mental health, and to press for shifts in policy and practice as a result. For more information visit the Mental Health Foundation  or the Sustain  website.

Key Resources

Please find below a list of key resources relating to nutrition, physical activity and mental health. For more resources please visit the Nutrition Network for Wales Resources Database.

MIND Food and Mood Website

MIND have developed a new part of their website to include information about food and mood.
Much of the content has been transferred from the Food and Mood Community Interest Company website with developments to the new website planned. It contains information about the relationship between food and mental health, a food and mood plate, recipes, fun stuff and resources.
The Food and mood project set up by Amanda Geary was originally established by the MIND Millennium awards scheme which was specifically about promoting innovative approaches to mental health issues. Along with other initiatives this project has allowed the research on the links between food and mood to become better understood and more accessible to people suffering mental health issues. This in turn has lead to people being able to take more control over their own mental health and develop self-management approaches through food.
For more information visit
Ecotherapy The Green Agenda for Mental Health  – as part of Mind Week 2007 Mind calls for a new green agenda for mental health, following growing evidence in support of using ecotherapy or green exercise as an accessible, cost-effective and natural addition to existing treatment options.
Mental Health Foundation Healthy Eating and depression: How diet may help protect your mental health  contains information for anyone who wishes to protect their mental health through healthy eating.
Mental Health Foundation Feeding Minds  indicates what foods may help promote mental wellbeing.
Mind Your Heart, healthier lifestyles toolkit for workers in Mental health

Useful Links