The Future of Mental HealthNov 07, 2019
by Henry Emmons, MD
We are living with an epidemic of mental health problems.
The numbers are staggering.
The percentage of people in the US suffering from depression, anxiety, and poor focus/memory are historically high and increasing by more than 10% each decade. The rise is even faster among adolescents. If you are struggling with one of these common mental health problems, you are most definitely not alone!
Currently available treatments often don’t work well over the long term.
Antidepressant medications still form the mainstay of treatment for depression and anxiety, while stimulants are the primary treatment for ADD. Consumers and professionals alike are realizing the limitations of conventional treatments and desperately looking for more natural, safe yet effective alternatives.
Natural approaches to mental health treatment are too often disorganized and unscientific.
There is no unified theory explaining the epidemic of disorders, either in the biomedical or holistic frameworks, and alternative solutions often lack scientific support, cohesion, and effective education. Coherent and common-sense models are needed before safe and effective recommendations can be made.
The Future of Mental Health
At NMH, we believe that the future of mental health is more natural, accessible and sustainable than the mental health of today. We understand that each person is unique and complex, with many factors to consider when it comes to sustaining a vibrant sense of well-being. Embracing both simplicity and complexity, we want to help create a new approach to mental health. Here’s what we think that might look like:
The Future of Mental Health Is Integrative
Being integrative means we don’t throw out the old tool-kit. We expand upon it. We find inspiration and adopt practices from a variety of traditions and systems, like neuroscience, functional medicine, Ayurvedic medicine, plant-based medicine and the psychology of mindfulness. Anything that works and is safe is worthy of consideration.
The Future of Mental Health Is Based on A Paradigm of Wholeness
Our approach is embodied in the whole person: body-mind-heart-soul are inseparable aspects of who we are as human beings. We begin with the body and honor its wisdom, which often points us to the root cause of imbalance. We are not afraid of the distressed mind. Emotional and psychological symptoms are valued as the “trailhead” to greater well-being and inner growth. Meaning, purpose and the life of the soul/spirit/heart are integral parts of our approach (and often left out of other models).
The Future of Mental Health Is Individualized
We focus on strengths rather than pathology. So, we’re less concerned with traditional diagnoses like “depression, anxiety and ADHD” and more concerned with what to do about them. What is labelled as “depression”, for example, can show up in several completely different ways depending on the person. We want to find solutions that really fit that individual and their own unique pattern of depression. We will introduce you further into our subtype system for depression, anxiety and ADHD in Day 6.
"We’re less concerned with traditional diagnoses like “depression, anxiety and ADHD” and more concerned with what to do about them." -Henry Emmons, MD
The Future of Mental Health Is Self-Care
We work with lifestyle factors like diet, movement, sleep and stress to address potential underlying causes of illness and create greater resilience for the future. We know that this isn’t always enough to turn around a severe episode of depression, for example, or to prevent recurrences of illness. But good self-care is an indispensable foundation upon which to build a flourishing life. We also use our subtype model as a guide to choose the best, most efficient and effective self-care practices.
"[G]ood self-care is an indispensable foundation upon which to build a flourishing life." -Henry Emmons, MD
The Future of Mental Health Is Safe, Natural Therapies First
We prioritize more natural, less-invasive approaches to support mental health and resilience that work to ignite the mind and body’s innate healing capacities.
When treating depression in our clinical practices, for example, whenever possible we start with diet to improve brain chemical imbalance. When that is not enough, then we may add herbs or nutritional supplements (“nutraceuticals”). And when that is still not enough, then we may add a medication (“pharmaceutical”). But even when medications are used, it is intelligent practice to get the right nutrients to the brain so that medication has what it needs to work with.
The Future of Mental Health Is Skills-Based
One of our catch-phrases is “More Skills, Less Pills.” We’ve seen first-hand how often medications that were once effective seem to “poop out” over time. Far better than relying on a medication, or even a therapist, is to develop your own innate mental and emotional skills that you can take with you and continually improve upon.