The link between brain health and mental health

Does a healthy brain equal a healthy mind? A global team are working to find the answer.

A new paper has been published in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry by a collective of neurology, psychology, psychiatry, neuroscience and policy experts from across the world.

Lead author of the paper Dr Harris Eyre, Adjunct Associate Professor with IMPACT, says that the link between mental health and brain health hasn’t been fully established and that we need to clarify this.

‘The field of brain health has – to date – been dominated by neurology. There is a serious risk that the mental health field will be left behind or left out. This would be a terrible outcome given mental health is in desperate need of new solutions.’ says Dr Eyre.

The concept of brain health provides us with a new opportunity to bridge both the mental health and neurology communities, allowing us to harness collective resources and generate transdisciplinary scientific, public health and economic interventions.

Brain health is fundamental to good health across the life course of individuals. It does not simply imply the absence of a disorder, but also includes the ability of those living with a brain disorder to thrive, and those who don’t have a diagnosis to pursue health and well-being.

The concept of brain health provides a new opportunity to bridge the mental health and neurology communities to harness collective resources and cultivate transdisciplinary scientific, public health and economic innovations.

What does the evidence tell us?

 Researchers have discovered some impressive links between our brain health and mental health.

For example, several studies have illustrated the critical link that sleep plays on both our brain and mental health. Brain disorders are often associated with sleep disturbances and changes in our sleep rhythms. Alternatively, sleep impairments such as loss of deep sleep can impair our lymphatic functions. Treatments of sleep disturbances like insomnia have been proven to decrease an individual’s risk for clinical depression in older adults.

A driver for change?

Director of IMPACT Professor Berk will speak on these topics with Dr Eyre at the upcoming Brain Awareness Week this week at the Global Partnerships in Brain Research event in Brussels, Belgium.

Prof. Berk says that his team are delighted to explore the field of brain health and to lead this thinking in Australia.

‘IMPACT is proudly transdisciplinary and endeavours to bring together disparate fields to solve complex problems. We will continue to coordinate with other global experts as brain health evolves.’

– Alfred Deakin Professor Michael Berk

Their latest paper has just been published American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry. Read the article here