Today is #WorldMentalHealthDay, and I want to take the opportunity to talk about a mental health stigma that is perpetuated by holistic and integrative medicine fields regarding pharmaceuticals for mental health.
Working as an acupuncture and integrative medicine clinician, I can’t help by notice how often my colleagues perpetuate the myth that there is always a natural therapy for mental health conditions that is far superior to psych meds. So often I have patients that come to see me who’ve been told by some other holistic professional that THE path to health and holism is to eliminate their need for psych meds; this is dangerous and we need to do better.
Naturally, when possible, we do want to find non-pharmaceutical options for our patients and help them find health and holism using therapeutic modalities, counseling, nutrition, movement, and other forms of self-care. It’s also no secret that psych meds come with various side effects and that our society overly relies on them in lieu of multi-pronged approaches that address all the factors that are contributing to mental illness.
HOWEVER, when we turn our noses up to psych meds, we inflict shame and stigma onto our patients who are just trying to find some semblance of balance or even just trying to stay alive. When we push a natural-only approach, we imply that needing psych meds is indicative of a weakness or shortcoming. This is a violation of the oath we took to do no harm. The fact is, there are many instances where psych meds are crucial to a person’s health and wellbeing and we need to support that; ESPECIALLY these days when COVID has taken such a heavy toll on our mental health.
We are guardians of healthcare; it is our duty to apply compassion, non-judgement and best practices when it comes to the care of those in our charge. This means knowing when and how to integrate therapies in our scope of practice while also knowing how to collaborate with conventional physicians. The future of medicine is integrative, which means bringing the best of holistic and conventional healthcare together in a united front. If we can work together, we can co-create a healthcare system that provides individualized, patient-centered, and empowering whole-health care.
To my community, I hope you take today and really dig in to your mental and emotional health; what do you need to nurture yourself today? Who can you turn to for support?
Take some time to journal about how you're feeling, what you want to change, and what can support that change.
Take a few moments to just breathe in some fresh air. Make a cup of tea and savor the scents and tastes. Take a bath. Make or order a nourishing meal. Read a book or watch a show/film that makes you feel happy. Take a nap. Go for a walk. Play with your fur babies. Give your loved ones hugs. Set boundaries and protect your energy. Call your healthcare provider and/or therapist and book an appointment. Take your meds and your vitamins. Listen to some music that makes you feel inspired or cozy. Put on those cozy socks (even if it's hot out). Do some yoga or tai chi. Call a loved one. Do what ever you think will bring a smile to your face and warmth to your heart.
Love on yourself, be kind to yourself.