Mental Health Month – Podcast Ep. 23

Mental Health Month – Podcast Ep. 23

Welcome to the 23rd episode of the Living Healthy Podcast, presented by LA Fitness.

May marks the start of Mental Health Month, and so on today’s episode, we bring back Dr. Neel Doshi, to help us understand exactly what mental illness is, the effects of mental illness on the body, and how social media and technology play into these conditions.  

We also discuss ways to reach out for treatment and the future of mental health in general. Dr. Doshi is double board certified in Adult Psychiatry and Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, with Kaiser Permanente of Orange County. He joined us about 6 months ago to discuss this topic, and we had yet another great conversation with him!   

For more information on ways you can get involved for Mental Health Month, please visit

How Are We Doing? 

This podcast should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Timecard Markers – Mental Health Month – Podcast Ep. 23


Begins at 0:01    

Dr. Neel Doshi, double board certified in Adult Psychiatry and Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, with Kaiser Permanente of Orange County, joins the show    

Begins at 0:39 

What is Mental Health? 


Why is Mental Health Becoming So Mainstream?  


How Can We Bridge the Empathy Gap? 


What Are the Best Ways to Engage with Someone Struggling with a Mental Illness?  


How Do Mood and Emotions Correlate with Mental Health?  


How Much Does Your Environment Affect Your Mood?  


Humor’s Impact on Mental Health 


Natural Defense Mechanisms: How They Play a Part in Our Emotions  


Social Media and Technology: How It Affects Mental Health  


Mental Health Apps  


Which is a Bigger Threat to Positive Mental Health: Social Media or Living a Sedentary Life? 


Are There Certain Types of Exercise That Are Best for Improving Mental Health?  


How Long Should You Exercise to Reap the Benefits?  


Does Everyone with Mood Issues Need to Be in Therapy?  


The Future of Mental Health 


Actionable Advice 




Recommended Podcast Episodes 

What is Considered Being “Mentally Healthy”?

What is Considered Being “Mentally Healthy”?

What is mental health?

Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social health and well-being. It is important at every age. According to the WHO (World Health Organization), mental health is “… a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities can cope with the normal stresses of life can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.” It is important to note that the WHO stresses that mental health “is not just the absence of a mental disorder.”

Why is it important?

Mental Health is important because it affects us every day, in almost everything we do. It impacts how we function, interact with others, and how we feel about ourselves and our lives.  Furthermore, it can have a profound impact on our bodies and physical health as well.

What can be done to improve mental health?

For children and adults, learning how to identify and understand our emotions is a vital component in improving mental health. Emotions are not bad – however, we need to better teach people to identify and understand their emotions and most importantly, what to do with them.  We also must teach and develop personal coping skills so that one can process and use their emotions in a healthy and productive manner.

There are several key things we can all do to improve and maintain our mental health which includes keeping a regular schedule, especially ensuring adequate sleep. Getting regular exercise (even low intensity like walking counts) every day. Try to reduce the amount of time you sit for, as they say, “sitting is the new smoking”! Try and eat a healthy well-balanced diet with lots of fruits and vegetables. Connecting with others and helping others can also improve our mental health. Lastly, don’t be afraid to get professional help if you need it!

How someone can get help if they need it?

It doesn’t always feel like it, but there is help everywhere.  A few national resources that are available to anyone are the National Suicide Hotline (1-800-273-8255), Textline (741741), and online chat. The National Alliance of Mental Illness ( is a great resource not just for those who are struggling with their mental health, but also for their families.  For the LGBTQ+ population, Trevor Project has a hotline (1-866-488-7386), Textline (678678), online chat and multiple other online resources too.

Individuals should also contact their healthcare provider to learn more about the resources that they offer.  At Kaiser Permanente, our mental health resources include a wide range of services for all ages from medication management, individual therapy, group therapy, wellness phone coaching and in-person classes through our Center for Healthy Living as well as numerous online services. 

There are also people around you that are there to help, whether it’s a teacher, a coach, a religious leader or spiritual counselor, a supervisor at work or an Employee Assistance Program.

Kaiser Permanente also has a great website called which provides resources and help for those wanting to help someone else or those looking for help themselves. 

Mental Health Tip!

One of my favorite exercises to recommend to patients is gratitude. Thinking of three things you are grateful for every night before you go to bed has been shown to significantly improve your mood. It doesn’t have to be anything outrageous, you can be grateful for having a bed to sleep in, or for your bad day being over, or for the amazing thing that happened to you that day. But, remember just three! No more, no less, even if every night it’s the same three and kids can do it too. Try it for a week, see how you feel!

Ashley Zucker

MD, Chief of Psychiatry , Kaiser Permanente, San Bernardino

Responses contributed by Ashley Zucker, MD, Chief of Psychiatry at Kaiser Permanente in San Bernardino.

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The Art of Being Present

The Art of Being Present

There is a well-known quote that has been credited to Chinese philosopher, Lao Tzu, that says:

If you are depressed you are living in the past.
If you are anxious you are living in the future.
If you are at peace you are living in the present.

Whether or not that is the direct translation of the quote or a slight modernization of it, the meaning behind what is being said is worth exploring further.

The art of being present is hard for many. Why else would there be novels and movies revolving around the idea of a character who yearns to have made a different choice, or self-help books that emphasize the importance of being in the now rather than worrying about the future or consumed by the past?

But it’s hard. It’s hard to just flip the switch in your brain that also allows us the ability to feel nostalgic over memories or the ability to daydream about the future. Hard, yes. But impossible? No.

There is a difference between remembering the past versus being consumed by it.

There is a difference between a nervous excitement over the future versus a feeling of terror or panic.

Being present is possible and it really just means training yourself to be in the now. The whole “take-things-one-day-at-a-time” is great advice because no day is guaranteed to anyone.

Why worry about the past? You can’t go back and change anything. The past is gone and the only thing you have is the now. Now flip it. Why worry about the future? It’s not promised to you. All anyone has is the now.

The would-ofs, could-ofs, should-ofs, and the what-ifs of life should not take precedence over this exact moment here and now. Mental health can be improved by a change in mindset. For some, that means meditation. Allowing yourself to slow down, practice controlled breathing, and take some time to be present.

For others, it means practicing more gratitude. By taking the time to acknowledge all that you’re grateful for and all that is going right in your life, you can start developing the habit of focusing on the good rather than the bad. This can be as simple as writing down three things you are grateful for each morning or every night before bed.

And because there is no one cure-all way to be more in the present, you may find the solution that works for you is speaking with a friend, a family member, or a healthcare professional that can help find a method that best fits you.

Mental health is just as important as physical health (if not more!), which is why we are happy to bring attention to it and partner with NAMI throughout the month of May. If you’d like to learn more about Mental Health Month, please visit

And remember to fully live for today!

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The Benefits of Exercise for Cancer Patients

The Benefits of Exercise for Cancer Patients

After finding out they have cancer, people want to know what’s happening to their body. They have questions about what their treatment options are, how likely those are to succeed, and what sort of side-effects they may encounter, to name a few. Many people are curious about exercise, and whether it can play a role in their cancer journey.  

Physical activity and exercise can be a key part of someone’s cancer-control regimen. That’s one of the many answers that can be found in the NCCN Guidelines for Patients®—available for free at—a series of understandable and informative books from the National Comprehensive Cancer Network® (NCCN®). That’s the same nonprofit organization responsible for the NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology (NCCN Guidelines®) which many doctors rely on for up-to-date, evidence- and expert consensus-based recommendations for high-quality cancer care. 

According to Robert W. Carlson, MD, breast cancer oncologist and CEO of NCCN, “Studies have shown that staying physically active is one of the best ways for people who’ve been diagnosed with cancer to take special care of themselves before, during, and after treatment. However, it’s important that patients talk with their doctor or physical therapist about the type of exercise they’re considering, so they can make sure it will be safe for them. Physical activity and exercise recommendations should be tailored to individual abilities and preferences.” 

Uterine cancer survivor and advocate Colleen Johnson, PhD, knows a thing or two about individual abilities, and how to push herself beyond all limitations. When Colleen was first diagnosed with cancer at age 57, she was a self-described couch potato with an unhealthy BMI. Her first course of treatment involved major surgery, so she needed a few months of recovery before ultimately taking up running—a hobby that helped her to lose weight, get rid of diabetes, and take back control over her body. Colleen completed her first full marathon just 17 months after surgery. After that, she set her sights on ultra-marathons, and now runs at least one 100-miler every year to remain healthy while also raising awareness for uterine cancer.  

“You have to find hope, somewhere,” Colleen said. “I found it in exercise and diet. In the beginning, I thought it was probably false hope, but I didn’t have anything to lose by trying it. I was amazed when it turned out to be true—exercise and weight loss really did help fight my cancer.” 

Colleen is now featured on the cover of the NCCN Guidelines for Patients: Uterine Cancer, which can be read and downloaded for free at Her advocacy around this rarely discussed but increasingly common type of cancer—which is also known as endometrial cancer—inspired NCCN to include it in the growing library of patient guidelines, which also include Breast, Colon, Lung, Prostate, Stomach, and other cancer types accounting for approximately 88% of all cancer incidences in the United States. 

Of course, running ultra-marathons isn’t for everyone. Swimming, jogging, biking, and even walking can get your heart rate pumping. Work with your doctor to customize your exercise routine to whatever fits best for your life. Some answers can only come from within, but free, reliable, and empowering information about cancer care is available—if you know where to look 

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6 Fringe Health Topics You Should Know

6 Fringe Health Topics You Should Know

Staying healthy involves much more than just being fit and eating certain supplements or foods. One area that is often ignored is your mouth. If you neglect good oral care it can ruin your health in many ways – and may actually shorten your life. 

1. Your Mouth Affects Your Overall Health 

Recently, researchers have discovered that the health of your mouth can affect the health of your entire body. This is especially true if you have the more serious form of gum disease – periodontitis. Most people have no idea that they have it or how serious it can become – and one reason is that it is nearly painless until it reaches the advanced stages. About half of the adults in America over 30 have the disease and it continues to be the major cause of tooth loss in adults. 

Periodontitis is caused by some of the natural bacteria in your mouth. It gets into your gums through poor care of your teeth and starts an immune reaction. Once it is in your gums, it also gets access to your bloodstream. Not only will it destroy your gums, ligaments that support your teeth, and your jawbone, but the reaction from your immune system will produce buildups in your bloodstream and organs. 

Those buildups can lead to many serious diseases and other health problems. They include cardiovascular disease, diabetes, stroke, heart attacks, several types of cancer, dementia, ED, Parkinson’s, and many more.  

2. Sugary Drinks Are Sure to Produce Cavities 

One of the worst things you can do for your teeth and oral health is to sip on sugary drinks for hours. Many people love to sip on specialty coffees, teas, energy drinks, or fruit juices, thinking it is healthy.  

Unfortunately, the bacteria that cause cavities and gum disease feed on sugar. They also produce the acid that causes the cavities and gum disease for the next 20 minutes after each sip. It is better to drink sugary drinks only with a meal and rinse your mouth with water afterward.  

3. Acidic Drinks Can Damage Your Teeth 

While most people think fruit juice or flavored water is healthy, it can damage the enamel on your teeth. Fruit juice, especially citrus fruit juice, is highly acidic and it also has about as much sugar in it as soda. It will damage the enamel on your teeth, leading to sensitive teeth and cavities.  

4. Vitamin D Strengthens Your Teeth 

Besides the calcium that your teeth need for strength, your teeth also need a good dose of vitamin D. This sunshine vitamin enables your bones and teeth to absorb calcium for ongoing strength. Without it, the acid in your mouth and food will continue to leach the calcium out and make them brittle.  

5. Don’t Brush After Eating 

Researchers discovered that brushing after eating can reduce the enamel on your teeth. This is because acidic foods and drinks actually soften the enamel and a toothbrush can remove tiny bits of it. Brushing right away will also push the acid into the enamel, causing even more damage in the lower layers. You can rinse your mouth out with water and then brush about 30 minutes later.  

6. Stay Hydrated 

While most people who exercise regularly know the importance of staying hydrated, here is one more reason – and it affects your dental health. A dry mouth promotes cavities and gum disease. Normally, your saliva will help to wash away the harmful bacteria and acid off your teeth. A dry mouth lets it multiply more and produce more acid than normal. You can increase your saliva by chewing sugarless gum and drinking more water.  

You can keep your teeth and smile longer by eating healthy, brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing, and making regular dentist appointments. 

This article was written in collaboration with Global Family Dental

Photography provided by John Davydov of Global Family Dental. 

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