By AFRO Staff

While some may feel alone in seeking treatment, mental illness in the general public is more common than one may think. 

According to Johns Hopkins Medicine (JHM), “an estimated 26 percent of Americans ages 18 and older– about one in four adults –suffers from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year.” 

Furthermore, JHM reports that “mental health disorders account for several of the top causes of disability in established market economies, such as the U.S., worldwide, and include: major depression (also called clinical depression), manic depression (also called bipolar disorder), schizophrenia, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.”

The numbers may be shocking, but there are many remedies available to deal with mental issues aside from or in addition to medication. 

According to information released by the Mayo Clinic, physical activity can go a long way in helping individuals cope with depression and anxiety by “releasing feel-good endorphins,” or “natural cannabis-like brain chemicals (endogenous cannabinoids) and other natural brain chemicals that can enhance your sense of well-being.” The Mayo Clinic reports that exercise can also  help by “taking your mind off worries so you can get away from the cycle of negative thoughts that feed depression and anxiety.”

Food can also play a part in mental health outcomes, according to information released by Aetna. 

“The link between diet and emotions stems from the close relationship between your brain and your gastrointestinal tract, often called the ‘second brain,’ reports the healthcare company. “Your GI tract is home to billions of bacteria that influence the production of chemical substances that constantly carry messages from the gut to the brain. Two common examples of this are dopamine and serotonin.”

“Eating nutritionally dense food promotes the growth of ‘good’ bacteria, which in turn positively affects the production of these chemicals,” experts from Aetna report. “When production is optimal, your brain receives these positive messages loud and clear, and your mental state can reflect it. On the other hand, when production goes awry, so might your mood.”

As October is National Depression and Mental Health Screening Month, the AFRO spoke with a few prominent locals on how they cope with the day to day stressors of life and balance their busy lifestyles. 

Peter Lwuh

Peter Lwuh, 22 

CEO at Tykoon Agency and Tykoon Sports

Peter Lwuh says that he maintains his health by maintaining a regular, healthy diet. He enjoys calisthenics, including push ups and pull- ups. He also enjoys hiking to maintain a good balance of exercise. Lush says his go-to tip is to remember that minimizing stress is key! 


Dana Petersen Moore is Baltimore’s first chief equity officer and the director of Baltimore’s Office of Equity and Civil Rights. (Courtesy Photo)

Dana Petersen Moore, 66

Attorney, Baltimore City Chief Equity Officer and Director of the Office of Equity and Civil Rights

I maintain a regular diet, with low carbs, low sugar, no alcohol and no tobacco. My favorite exercise is walking. I started during the pandemic as a way of managing the stress of having to go into the office alone every day and the isolation that came with that. I joined my coach’s Sunday walks through Druid Hill Park. That was a tremendous outlet and I’ve kept it up.  Anyone can do it, and it can be done anywhere!

I absolutely love playing golf. Haven’t been able to do it in a while, however!

[My] best tip for maintaining good health: exercise regularly. Try to do some form of exercise every day.  Definitely manage stress. Find what works for you and deploy it as needed!  Nothing to excess. And it shouldn’t be missed that joy and laughter can cure a lot of the little ills we often encounter!


William Lee

William Lee, 51 

Assistant Pastor, Community of Hope AME Church
Professional Photographer,

I would consider myself in good health. I have a regular diet, but do not eat fast food or fried foods. My favorite exercise is boxing–working mitts, a heavy bag and light sparring. My favorite recreation is listening to great music and looking at photography books. I truly believe the best tip for maintaining is being consistent in exercising and eating right. 


Marcia Ra-Akbar

Marcia Ra-Akbar

Real Estate and Wellness Specialist

Ra-Akbar says her health is in good condition. She maintains her health by eating healthy and describes herself as an “aspiring pescatarian.” Her favorite exercise is the squat and dancing is her favorite thing to do to get moving.


Jeffrey Butler

Jeffrey Butler


Photographer Jeffrey Butler says he’s in good health.  He’s 66 years old and he doesn’t have a particular diet that he follows. He avoids soda and eats smaller portions for his meals. He’s currently looking into intermittent fasting as an option. His favorite exercise is the rowing machine, and his favorite recreation is listening to live music. He suggests being mindful of what your body needs. “Everything doesn’t work the same for everyone. When you find what works for you keep at it.”


Sherri Braxton

Sherri Braxton

Fitness Trainer/Consultant and Owner of “Sherri Fitness”

Sherri Braxton is a trainer and community fitness partner who owns Sherri fitness. The 58-year old consultant says she’s in excellent health and maintains a healthy diet that’s fitness focused. Out of the many exercises she does, jump squats are her favorite. Her choice for recreation is working out and her tip is to eat a balanced diet that includes three main meals, and two snacks throughout the day.


Winston Scatliffe

Winston Scatliffe

Ramp Tech

Winston Scatliffe Sr. is a 58-year-old ramp tech who says he’s in good health. He follows a regular diet with no processed food. His favorite exercises are weight training and running. His choices for recreation are exercise and travel.
His suggestion for maintaining good health is regular exercise and drinking lots of water

Check out the tips below from the Anxiety and Depression Association of America:

  • Get active! Thirty minutes of brisk physical activity daily is ideal but even 10 to 15 minutes a day can help. Depression can limit activity but try to push through it.
  • Nourish your body! Eat well-balanced meals and avoid high-sugar, high-fat, processed foods and alcohol. 
  • Sleep! Too much sleep is not good for depression but getting enough sleep is essential for the mind and body.
  • Journal! Write down recurring negative thoughts or feelings. Writing helps with personal expression and allows you to identify any distorted thinking and maladaptive behaviors.    
  • Challenge your thinking! Are your distortions true? Or do they just feel real? Are you taking into account the evidence? Does it help to think this way? 
  • Limit rumination! Excessively rehashing thoughts, memories or moments in time are a part of depression. Try being more aware when it happens and redirect yourself by thinking or doing something more helpful.
  • Set realistic goals! Rather than tackle a goal on a large scale, break it down so it is smaller and more manageable. Celebrate micro-successes and build on them.
  • Reduce procrastination! Try to do things a little at a time rather than avoid tasks all together. This can promote a sense of accomplishment and self-efficacy.
  • Avoid the big decisions! Contemplating or acting on major life decisions should be avoided until your cognitive and decision-making abilities are sharper.
  • Engage in healthy joyful activities! Try to enjoy the small things like listening to a good song, reaching out to a friend, dancing in your own space, or a cup of tea.
  • Stay connected! It may feel hard but keep friends and family close. Try to explain what you are experiencing and how they can help. Know you are not alone. 
  • Practice self-compassion! Being harsh or overly critical is not helpful, give yourself some grace and kindness.