Mental health is an issue that so many of us suffer from yet quite little is done to help. 25% of us will suffer from some form of it and yet it carries with it so many stigmas. It often seems that physical health is valued more highly than mental but it doesn’t have to be such a negative problem. I ask what can be done to help and in particular what is the role of complementary therapy in mental health.
What is complementary therapy?
Before we look at its role we should understand what it is exactly. Complementary therapy or medicine is a group of therapeutic and diagnostic practices that are often used in combination with conventional medicine.
Some of the major therapies are massage, aromatherapy, acupuncture, reflexology and chiropractic treatment. There are of course more but for the purposes of this article we’ll just use the ones listed as examples.
Mental health and how difficult it can be to ‘heal’
What is mental health? Before we understand the role of complementary therapy with it, we need to understand what it is.
The World Health Organisation defines mental health as;
“A state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.
The positive dimension of mental health is stressed in WHO’s definition of health as contained in its constitution: “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”
As stated above, poor mental health is a very common issue that 1 in 4 of us will suffer with at some point. It can be easy to spot or impossible to explain, it can be only a minor issue or completely debilitating. Mental health illness can be horrible and difficult to work with. It won’t always necessarily follow patterns or healing timelines, each problem is unique and requires a unique approach.
How can complementary therapy help with mental health?
So how can it help and what is its role? Complementary therapies are extremely useful for improving the mental and physical well-being of a person and often take a holistic approach.
The health of the human mind is decided by a few factors; the life we live (diet, habits, beliefs etc), the chemistry going on inside us (hormones) and the health of our brain and body.
Complementary therapy can certainly help by improving how people feel, setting off chemical reactions and bringing a nice balance to someone’s life. A relaxing massage session for example will make a person feel relaxed of course but it will also improve the health of their body, add a routine and structure to their lives and generally improve their mood.
This can be said for many therapies and usually you can positively change how someone feels either through biochemistry, beliefs or physical change.
Complementary therapies can help with agitation, depression, anxiety, insomnia, low self-esteem, frustration and anger. They can be very useful in combating many problems and can form a positive part of a patient’s life.
It is with this in mind that the answer to my question is this; complementary therapy plays a very important role in mental health and the well-being of a person. If used effectively and appropriately it can make a big difference to an individual.