“Mental health is an integral part of health; indeed, there is no health without mental health.” (World Health Organization, 2010) Nutrition initiatives, as part of collaborative programs for mental health promotion, can support and promote mental health by enhancing social inclusion, self-reliance, food security, and healthy body image, while reducing health and social inequities. Nutrition interventions, provided by Registered Dietitians to individuals with mental health conditions and their care providers, can lead to reduced nutrition-related side effects of psychiatric medications, better self-management of concurrent and comorbid conditions, and improved function overall.
As experts advising on diet, food and nutrition, Registered Dietitians have an important role in mental health promotion, disease prevention and treatment of mental health conditions. Dietitians of Canada, as the national professional association for dietitians, recognizes that all dietitians work either directly or indirectly in support of mental health. Recommendations for better integration of nutrition and mental health services include advocacy in practice and policy, support for training of health professionals, collaboration in program planning, screening and standards in nutrition and mental health, and continued research.
A team of dietitians specializing in mental health promotion and care authored sections of a Dietitians of Canada role paper which outlines how nutrition helps provide a solid foundation for mental health. The overall goal of the role paper, Promoting Mental Health through Healthy Eating and Nutritional Care, is to support the work of dietitians and to guide future dietetics practice as it relates to mental health. The document also provides policy makers, and other interested groups and individuals, with an evidence-based summary of the current literature about the promotion of mental health through healthy eating and nutritional care.
This role paper is also available divided into three section papers (below), each representing an area of practice in nutrition and mental health:
The Role of Nutrition in Mental Health Promotion and Prevention (1)
The Role of Nutrition Care for Mental Health Conditions (2)
Nutrition and Mental Health: Therapeutic Approaches (3).