Get “Active and Healthy” for Your Mental Health


By: Roslyn Holliday-Moore, Public Health Analyst, SAMHSA Office of Behavioral Health Equity and Victoria Chau, Public Health Analyst, SAMHSA Office of Behavioral Health Equity

Most people know that physical activity can reduce risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and other chronic diseases, but fewer know that it is also important for mental health. Research suggests that exercise and physical activity can help to improve symptoms of anxiety and depression. People of color, particularly youth, are less likely to be physically active compared to Whites and, in general, as people get older they exercise less. Since the U.S. population is becoming more racially diverse, more people are at risk for inactivity. April is National Minority Health Month, led by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health. Recognizing the risks of inactivity, the theme this year is “Active and Healthy.”

In keeping with this year’s theme, SAMHSA is promoting efforts for communities to get “active and healthy” through the National Network to Eliminate Disparities in Behavioral Health (NNED). Nearly 100 NNED members took their first steps together in the Office of Minority Health’s Active and Healthy Challenge at this year’s NNEDLearn 2019 training.

NNEDLearn 2019 included instruction on two interventions, Preventing Long-term Anger and Aggression in Youth (PLAAY) and Project Venture, which incorporate physical activity into efforts to promote mental health and resilience for youth of color. PLAAY is an intervention aimed for Black male youth that uses Recast Theory (Racial Encounter Coping Appraisal and Socialization Theory) to promote mental health and the development of healthy coping skills for Black male youth through youth athletics. Project Venture is an experiential youth development program tailored for American Indian/Alaska Native Youth at high risk for substance use and related problems. These evidence-based interventions are geared to youth exposed to trauma and violence in their communities.

NNED members are on their way to being more “active and healthy.” Are you? Learn more about how communities are implementing PLAAY and Project Venture and how culturally specific interventions are increasing health and resiliency in minority youth.


Additional Resources:

PLAAY in Binghamton NY 

SAMHSA Behavioral Health Equity

SAMHSA’s Creating a Healthier Life

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ “Move Your Own Way” Initiative



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