A volunteer befriending scheme for people with mental health issues is making a lasting impression
- The Guardian,
- Wednesday March 26 2008
There is an explosion of pink outfits in the office near Southend seafront where Linda White and her friend Jacqui Herbert are having the full works - hand massage, manicure and nail art. The dress code and treatments are to celebrate the achievements of a local befriending service that has reduced the loneliness and isolation of people with mental illness.
White, 50, shows off her jewel-encrusted fingernails, as she explains how Good Companions has changed her life. "I was unable to work and on benefits due to mental illness, and I wanted to put something back, help somebody else. Because I have had my own difficulties with things like depression, it's something I'm good at." She nods to Herbert. "Jacqui knows she can ring me any time for a chat or if she wants to go out for an hour."
Herbert, 39, was referred to Good Companions by her social worker. "I have anxiety and depression and didn't go out much," she says. Her only social outing was a trip to the mental health drop-in centre, which meant she was meeting only other people who were ill. "This," she says, looking around the room, "is just about being normal."
Eight years ago, Veronica Grocutt, 67, was being treated for depression, anxiety and panic attacks when she was referred to Good Companions. She still has a befriender, but has since become a befriender to Barbara Shipton, 63.
"Even if you only go out for a cup of tea and a chat, it's a break," Grocutt explains. "We've been to Yarmouth together. I've been there for her, and she's been there for me."
Shipton agrees: "People do steer clear of mental illness. I have had people I've know cut me dead - they think it's contagious. But I met Veronica eight years ago and it's brilliant we have got on so well."
Good Companions was set up 10 years ago by the Southend branch of the mental health charity Rethink to tackle social isolation in Southend and surrounding areas of Essex as far west as Brentwood.
Volunteers undergo Criminal Records Bureau checks and then a four-session training course over four weekends. The course explains what Rethink does, the main mental illnesses, and their signs and symptoms. It also gives a brief overview of mental health services, medications and treatments, as well as explaining the Mental Health Act.
There are 200 service users on Good Companions' books referred by GPs, community mental health workers, social workers or following a care review. At any one time, there are around 100 volunteer befrienders, who commit to a minimum one hour a week. That could be a trip to the cinema, pubs, an outing, or simply going out for a cup of tea and a chat.
Alison Williams, Good Companions' volunteer recruitment and mental health promotion officer, says a lot of emphasis in the early stages of training is placed on understanding the stigma that mentally ill people face, and dispelling some of the more lurid myths about psychosis and other conditions.
Williams's role has recently been extended to include outreach and recruitment work in schools, colleges, with the local police, fire brigade and local authorities. "We spoke to 800 people last year, dispelling myths and attacking stigma," she says. "People come away realising that people with psychosis aren't mad or violent. They realise they need help and support."
The scheme's manager, Neil Harding, says befrienders get an expenses allowance, but it is not often taken up. "People say: 'I was going to the pictures anyway and I just went along with a friend. Why should I need expenses?'."
Befrienders also act as a sounding board of their friends' mental health. "Someone might say something to their befriender that they want dealing with in terms of their care, and they know it will be raised with one of our staff," Harding says. "Volunteers get access to one of our staff until 10pm every night, even weekends, so if they are worried, or something happens they think the mental health team needs to know, they can get in touch."
Good Companions pays a lot of attention to awareness of boundaries and ensuring relationships are appropriate. Where problems crop up, one of its staff involved in the initial matching will discuss the situation with both sides. The scheme, which employs 10 full-time staff, is run under contract from South Essex primary care trust.
Williams says she is touched by the level of response to appeals for volunteers. "It's heart warming. People think that everyone today is out for themselves, but we hear so many people say they want to give something back."
For Mental and Emotional Health
Historically, traditional Western medicine has approached healing in just the body or just the mind. It also tends to view the source of a problem as external, in a "disease" or "disorder" model. For centuries, Eastern medicine has taken a very different direction, viewing the mind and body as unified, with energy fields both inside and around the body seen as part of the total health system, and approaching healing as an internal process.
Many kinds of Eastern medicine have begun to find their way into Western culture. In addition, other non-traditional approaches have become more visible in addressing what may be viewed as both physical and mental dis-ease. Many are being integrated into traditional mental health settings as their safety, effectiveness, and scientific validity are recognized.
The sections below focus on several types of mental healthcare practices previously considered outside the scope of conventional Western medicine, many of which are now commonly incorporated in treatment. In general, these approaches may be divided into two broad categories:
- Complementary or integrative approaches (working along with traditional medicine)
- Alternative approaches (working in place of traditional approaches)
Complementary and alternative approaches often see life experience and an individual's coping mechanisms as the source of difficulties that it is not what has happened to a person that is the problem, but how the person perceives and deals with what happened. It is apparent that what one considers to be the source of a problem (genetics, disease, internal energy imbalance, or life experience) will affect what treatment options are considered to manage or rectify the problem.
There are many types of complementary and alternative treatments, which tend to fall into such areas as:
- Alternative medical systems
- Creative arts therapies
- Nutritional or other "balancing" approaches
- Energy therapies
- Mind-body approaches
Why would someone consider complementary or alternative treatments for mental and emotional problems?
Most people in our society are familiar with mainstream, Western medicine. At its best, Western medicine can diagnose and treat many problems that otherwise might cause devastating effects in a person's health. However, mainstream medicine also has limitations. In recent years, there has been an increased interest in approaches from other parts of the world, or from other perspectives. Eastern medicine often relies on concepts that are outside Western understandings. For example, most Eastern approaches view disease or disorders (including mental conditions) as indication of blocked energy in the body, while Western medicine is more likely to want "scientific proof" that this energy even exists.
Some reasons people consider complementary or alternative treatments are:
- Feeling that Western medicine is too mechanical, dogmatic, or compartmentalized
- Belief that Western medicine is fine for what it is, but does not go far enough
- A perspective that the cause of a problem may lie in life experiences, rather than in genetic defects or diseases
- Concern about the safety of medications, particularly those used to treat mental or emotional problems
- Seeing CAM as less invasive than Western approaches and wanting to try it instead of, or at least prior to, seeing a medical doctor
- Objections to what they see as "instant fix-it" or "pill-popping" attitudes
- Being "turned off" to traditional treatments, because of a lack of trust in doctors, or bad experiences with the medical world
- Religious beliefs that preclude drugs or surgery
- Desire for a sense of spirit or human depth that seems missing in Western approaches
- Desire for engaging more of the "whole" person in treatment
- Interest in exploring practices that have been in use for thousands of years in other parts of the world
Most traditional psychotherapy approaches are based on memory and cognitive reasoning. But current research indicates that the source of anxiety or depression may be unrecognized trauma in a person's life, and that emotional trauma may result in only fragments of thought or sensations, rather than cognitions. For this reason, healing whether from one traumatic event or a series of events may not lend itself to the more traditional therapies.
In deciding about the use of complementary or alternative approaches, an individual or parent should become educated about available options in order to make the best choices for their particular needs. For example:
- Some might want to see a medical doctor or take psychiatric medication to relieve the most severe symptoms of anxiety or depression, while considering other alternatives for ongoing treatment
- Some might prefer to avoid physicians and medications entirely and pursue different means to address symptoms
- Others might want to try a variety of alternative approaches to find a good "fit" for the specific problems in their lives.
Alternative Medical Systems
There are many other medical systems in the world, beyond the standard Western system. Cultures throughout the world have a variety of healers or shamen. These systems are well-developed, with a 5,000-year old track record for healing, and many are gaining wide acceptance as alternative or complementary approaches in the West. Each of these systems addresses human suffering in different ways, but generally they seek to re-establish a balance or harmony within the body and in the lifestyle of the person being treated. Because they tend to view mental or emotional difficulties as part of a larger matter of balance and overall health, they are included here:
- Ayurveda ("Science of Life" Traditional Medicine from India) is the oldest medical system. The focus on energy and balance rather than symptoms seeks to restore wholeness in the mind-body-spirit system. Disease is viewed as an outgrowth of mental conditions. Each person has a particular combination of physical, mental and emotional characteristics distinct bioenergetic types known as Vata, Pitta, and Kapha that are genetically determined and prenatally influenced. Different causes and treatments of physical and emotional disorders are based in part on this individual constitution, with the kind of patient being more important than the kind of symptoms. Physical and mental health is achieved by balancing diet, exercise, sleep, and sexual activity. Some of the tools of Ayurveda include a variety of stress management techniques, meditation, aromatherapy, yoga, and massage.
- Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), in use for more than 4,000 years, is based on the flow of vital energy (qi or chi, pronounced "chee") throughout the body. In a healthy state, the yin and yang (negative and positive energies) are balanced, while a disease state results from an imbalance. Thus, the use of herbs, nutrition, meditation, acupuncture, and exercise are intended to restore balance and return the body, mind, emotions and spirit to health.
- Native American healing is thousands of years old and combines religion, spirituality, herbal medicine, and rituals to treat medical and emotional problems, including trauma and addictions. Because there are hundreds of tribal nations, the practices vary, but generally include purifying ceremonies, chants, sweat lodge, and other tribal customs. Healing rituals can last for minutes, days or weeks and may involve a combination of dance, chanting, body painting, and prayer.
- Homeopathic Medicine ("like cures like") was developed n the early 20th century. It does not treat a "disease" or disorder by name (such as depression) but rather by specific symptoms (including things that affect symptoms, such as sounds, smells, tastes, moods, energy, time of day or temperature when symptoms are worse, etc.). Small, highly diluted quantities of specific substances are used to cure symptoms which would actually be caused by larger doses of the same substance.
- Naturopathic Medicine sees physical and mental health as arising from a healing power in the body that establishes, maintains, and restores health. Many other treatment modalities (such as Chinese medicine, homeopathy, etc.) are incorporated to support this healing power, along with nutritional and lifestyle changes.
Nutritional or other "balancing" approaches
- Vitamins and supplements: Many people may suffer from both physical and mental conditions that arise from inadequate nutrition. Nutritional deficiencies often first appear in the form of mental symptoms. Some researchers believe that the imbalances in the system can be regulated by nutritional supplements. For example, depression may be caused by an amino acid imbalance or vitamin deficiency. The B-Vitamins, omerga-3 fatty acids, and folic acid are helpful for regulating stress and balancing mood. St. John's Wort and Kava Kava may help with depression and anxiety. However, without proper guidance of a nutritionist, these substances may also create serious side effects for some people.
- Allergies: There are many theories that allergies to such foods as wheat, sugar, and milk cause or exacerbate symptoms in schizophrenia, autism, anxiety, learning disabilities, ADHD, and other conditions. Some people find that avoiding these foods, or determining other possible food sensitivities may reduce symptoms. Other suspected sources for emotional problems are sensitivities to substances such as paint fumes, plastics, or even electromagnetic fields. Some of these can be avoided, if it is determined that they may be causing emotional symptoms.
- Dietetic changes: Many people find that adjustments in their diet may affect their mental and emotional health. For example, blood sugar levels have a strong impact on mood and emotional energy, and can be managed by eating small amounts every few hours, particularly of protein-rich foods, in a well-balanced overall diet.
- Light therapy: For some people, a lack of full-spectrum sunlight may cause Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), and they may best be helped by daily exposure to light from a special bulb, which is now easily available from many lighting stores. This is particularly useful for those in far northern regions that do not get sunlight for long periods during the winter.
- Chelation therapy: A synthetic amino acid called EDTA is added to the blood, where it "grabs" (chelates) onto metallic substances, which are then allowed to wash out of the body. An analogous process is unclogging a drain by adding a chemical which dissolves the block, and then washing the compound down the pipes. Patients who have had chelation treatment often notice less depression, more alertness, and better memory. It is speculated that this improvement results when harmful toxins are removed from the blood stream, thus protecting the brain from effects of these toxins.
- Aromatherapy: The use of essential oils extracts or essences from flowers, herbs, and trees is one of the oldest therapies, dating back 6,000 years to ancient Rome, Greece and Egypt. These oils are usually massaged into the skin, wafted in a room, or dissolved in a bath. Of our five primary senses, the olfactory is the only one that transmits information directly from the nose into the limbic center of the brain, the seat of emotions and memory. Recent brain scan research has shown that different scents affect brainwave production; for example, with some increasing alpha (relaxation) waves and others affecting beta (alertness) waves. Aromatherapy is effective with many disorders, including stress, anxiety, pain, PMS, depression, certain types of male impotence, and many others.
- Bach flower remedies: This system is similar to homeopathy, in that tiny quantities of a plant-based substance are diluted, preserved in brandy, then sipped in water. There are 38 different flower essences and one combination known as Rescue Remedy. The remedies are used for a variety of emotional difficulties, including many specific fears and types of depression, as well as personality characteristics, such as selfishness, intolerance, and inflexibility.
Creative arts therapies
Creative arts therapies such as dance, music, art, and drama may help reduce symptoms by providing outlets for expression of emotions. They also offer access to "right-brain" material non-verbal, emotionally based which can be impossible to reach through the traditional talk therapies. Creative writing using dreams, symbols, and myth can also be a way to process emotional material.
Therapists who are registered in their specialization have received training in the use of creative expression to assist with mental health issues. Many creative arts therapists are also licensed mental health clinicians, while others may work with a licensed professional as an adjunct to treatment. The links below indicate the training programs available to art, music, dance and drama therapists, which can assist you in understanding what each type of art can do, and how to know if a provider has been certified as a therapist.
Energy therapies involve focused attention on the energy fields that are believed to surround and penetrate the body. Some of these therapies use movement, while others involve manipulation of the energy field or the body. Still others focus on the electromagnetic fields that are all around us. Some examples of energy therapies are:
- Qi gong (pronounced "chee kung") is an ancient Chinese system using movement, meditation, relaxation, mind-body integration, and breathing exercises. The purpose is to improve circulation, balance flow of chi, reduce stress and anxiety, and restore energy and health.
- Reiki (pronounced "ray-kee") is a Japanese system of transferring energy from the practitioner to heal the patient's spirit, which leads to physical health. The Reiki Master does not touch the person directly, but places hands over the body. Reiki also uses distance healing, believing that energy fields in the universe are all interconnected and thus can be affected from far away.
- Therapeutic Touch is a form of "laying on of hands," which may also involve the healer passing hands over the body without actually touching it, to detect energy imbalances and re-direct them through the energy of the therapist. According to the founders, TT is "based on the assumptions that human beings are complex fields of energy, and that the ability to enhance healing in another is a natural potential."There are a growing number of registered nurses who have also been trained in this healing art in classes around the world, who use their gentle presence and touch to assist patients with many kinds of physical and emotional distress. Skeptics challenge the existence of an energy field and claim that relief occurs because people feel comforted to which most healers would probably say that is not the only reason, but if comfort helps, that's also a good thing.
- The power of the mind meditation, prayer, and distance healing are all varieties of thought forms used to calm the mind and body, and to call in a sense of intervention in health from energies of the spirit. Because stress is at the root of so many physical and mental disturbances or at the very least, stress will exacerbate existing conditions learning to relax the mind and body will ease many symptoms in the mind and body.
- There are many types of meditation that come from various cultural traditions (Buddhist, Zen, Tibetan, Transcendental, yoga, etc.). In general, they often involve calm and regular breathing, and a focus on one object (a "yantra" such as a candle or picture), one thought (such as "peace" or "relax"), or one word (a "mantra," often in Sanskrit or another language) that the mind is directed to return to over and over, and to set aside other distracting thoughts. With regular practice, one can learn to sit quietly and relax deeply, with a calming result.
- Prayer has been used for thousands of years by every culture. Regardless of religious tradition, prayer in general reflects a belief that there is a power greater than the individual, and that it is possible to access that power through words or thoughts. Many people attribute the healing of their physical or mental conditions to prayer, or to whatever their personal belief in a God or Higher Source might be. There have even been some experiments that have attempted controlled studies to "document" that prayer works by having strangers at great distances pray for people in hospitals or with various conditions to see if the prayer group improved at greater rates than the control group. These studies are controversial, but those who believe in prayer as a healing power would say they do not need a study to know that it works.
- Others would say that the power of the mind to change the body is evident whenever someone believes in something, a phenomenon known as a placebo effect. Some will then dismiss the value of the intervention as "just" a placebo. However, if a belief that something will help does in fact help, it is important to recognize that what we think or believe has a powerful effect on what happens in our lives. The opposite of a placebo is a nocebo (Latin for "I will harm"), the effect of a negative belief. The power of an idea to cause healing or harm is evidence of the power of the mind to lead to outcomes in the body and the overall health. This fact highlights the critical importance for doctors and others to maintain a positive outlook and not to predict a specific timeframe for the course of a disease.
Better known mind-body approaches
Some types of mind-body healing have become so commonplace, and are so often integrated into traditional treatment, that it is difficult to call them alternatives anymore. Examples include:
- Relaxation techniques or deep breathing
- Yoga or exercise
- Biofeedback and neurofeedback
Some forms of physical manipulation might also be considered mind-body treatments, if the practitioner is skilled in connecting the two. Examples include:
- Cranial-sacral therapy
Newer mind-body approaches
Recent developments in the treatment of emotional trauma include new, highly effective forms of psychotherapy and somatic (body) therapies. Although often intensely interpersonal, these therapies are also psychological and neurological in their focus and application. This group of therapies relies on innate instinctual resources, rather than medications, to bring about healing.
These newer Body-Mind Therapies (such as EMDR and somatic approaches) are discussed in Helpguide's Newer Types of Mind-Body Mental Health Therapies.
The power of thought was discussed above in energy therapies. In addition, in some situations emotional disturbances are actually the result of a lack of acceptance of differences. For example, a person whose temperament is more high strung or more laid back than others in his or her family may be labeled as anxious or depressed, simply by comparison. Another frequently reported source of depression and even suicide is in families with a child who does not match parental expectations who is sensitive when a parent wants toughness, or is fat when a parent wants thin, or is gay when a parent wants heterosexual, or is more interested in fixing engines than going to law school. Learning to accept, allow for, and even appreciate differences in family members is sometimes all that is needed to relieve depression or anxiety.
Hawaiian Code of Forgiveness:
Are we responsible for all that happens in our world - illness, war, violence, but also the good things like love, progress, wise decisions and happiness? Ihaleakala Hew Len, Ph.D., says we are indeed, and we can change the less positive manifestations in our lives by working on our thoughts.
The technique to achieve this is called Ho'oponopono and it is an ancient Hawaiian code of forgiveness, used to correct the things that went wrong in a person's life. It may sound preposterous, but apparently personal responsibility is a reality and it can change things. Dr. Len says "There is no such thing as out there. Everything exists as thoughts in my mind."
Simply put, Ho'oponopono means, "to make right," or "to rectify an error." According to the ancient Hawaiians, error arises from thoughts that are tainted by painful memories from the past. Ho'oponopono offers a way to release the energy of these painful thoughts, or errors, which cause imbalance and disease. (Definition found here)
I want to thank some people who have sent this information around in emails, especially Dr. Joe "Mr. Fire" Vitale, the marketing genius who has met Dr. Len and written up his impressions on his site and blog.
Thanks also go to Gary who sent Vitale's information with the following comment:
Truth is often stranger than fiction. Anyone who is aware of recent research conclusions in frontier science (such as in entanglement physics, quantum mechanics, astronomy, astro-biology, etc) would readily agree. Actually, recent frontier science can be used to, at least, partially explain the strange technique of the Worlds Most Unusual Therapist.
PS If the article seems to you to be complete fantasy without even a 5% probability of possibility, try these phrases (copy and paste each line, separately for each search, as is written below) into your Internet browsers search engine (such as WebCrawler, Clusty, or even Google) on the World Wide Web; very interesting stuff! Then reread the article.
action at a distance physics
Time reversal symmetry
"water molecules" Emoto
Biology of Belief
role of the observer in scientific experimentation physics
But before you go searching for these terms, here the article of Dr. Joe Vitale - food for thought...
The World's Most Unusual Therapist
By Dr. Joe Vital
Two years ago, I heard about a therapist in Hawaii who cured a complete ward of criminally insane patients--without ever seeing any of them. The psychologist would study an inmate's chart and then look within himself to see how he created that person's illness. As he improved himself, the patient improved.
When I first heard this story, I thought it was an urban legend. How could anyone heal anyone else by healing himself? How could even the best self-improvement master cure the criminally insane?
It didn't make any sense. It wasn't logical, so I dismissed the story.
However, I heard it again a year later. I heard that the therapist had used a Hawaiian healing process called ho 'oponopono. I had never heard of it, yet I couldn't let it leave my mind. If the story was at all true, I had to know more.
I had always understood "total responsibility" to mean that I am responsible for what I think and do. Beyond that, it's out of my hands. I think that most people think of total responsibility that way. We're responsible for what we do, not what anyone else does. The Hawaiian therapist who healed those mentally ill people would teach me an advanced new perspective about total responsibility.
His name is Dr. Ihaleakala Hew Len. We probably spent an hour talking on our first phone call. I asked him to tell me the complete story of his work as a therapist. He explained that he worked at Hawaii State Hospital for four years. That ward where they kept the criminally insane was dangerous. Psychologists quit on a monthly basis. The staff called in sick a lot or simply quit. People would walk through that ward with their backs against the wall, afraid of being attacked by patients. It was not a pleasant place to live, work, or visit.
Dr. Len told me that he never saw patients. He agreed to have an office and to review their files. While he looked at those files, he would work on himself. As he worked on himself, patients began to heal.
"After a few months, patients that had to be shackled were being allowed to walk freely," he told me. "Others who had to be heavily medicated were getting off their medications. And those who had no chance of ever being released were being freed."
I was in awe.
"Not only that," he went on, "but the staff began to enjoy coming to work. Absenteeism and turnover disappeared. We ended up with more staff than we needed because patients were being released, and all the staff was showing up to work. Today, that ward is closed."
This is where I had to ask the million dollar question: "What were you doing within yourself that caused those people to change?"
"I was simply healing the part of me that created them," he said.
I didn't understand.
Dr. Len explained that total responsibility for your life means that everything in your life - simply because it is in your life--is your responsibility. In a literal sense the entire world is your creation.
Whew. This is tough to swallow. Being responsible for what I say or do is one thing. Being responsible for what everyone in my life says or does is quite another. Yet, the truth is this: if you take complete responsibility for your life, then everything you see, hear, taste, touch, or in any way experience is your responsibility because it is in your life.
This means that terrorist activity, the president, the economy--anything you experience and don't like--is up for you to heal. They don't exist, in a manner of speaking, except as projections from inside you. The problem isn't with them, it's with you, and to change them, you have to change you.
I know this is tough to grasp, let alone accept or actually live. Blame is far easier than total responsibility, but as I spoke with Dr. Len, I began to realize that healing for him and in ho 'oponopono means loving yourself. If you want to improve your life, you have to heal your life. If you want to cure anyone--even a mentally ill criminal--you do it by healing you.
I asked Dr. Len how he went about healing himself. What was he doing, exactly, when he looked at those patients' files?
"I just kept saying, 'I'm sorry' and 'I love you' over and over again," he explained.
Turns out that loving yourself is the greatest way to improve yourself, and as you improve yourself, your improve your world. Let me give you a quick example of how this works: one day, someone sent me an email that upset me. In the past I would have handled it by working on my emotional hot buttons or by trying to reason with the person who sent the nasty message. This time, I decided to try Dr. Len's method. I kept silently saying, "I'm sorry" and "I love you," I didn't say it to anyone in particular. I was simply evoking the spirit of love to heal within me what was creating the outer circumstance.
Within an hour I got an e-mail from the same person. He apologized for his previous message. Keep in mind that I didn't take any outward action to get that apology. I didn't even write him back. Yet, by saying "I love you," I somehow healed within me what was creating him.
I later attended a ho 'oponopono workshop run by Dr. Len. He's now 70 years old, considered a grandfatherly shaman, and is somewhat reclusive. He praised my book, The Attractor Factor. He told me that as I improve myself, my book's vibration will raise, and everyone will feel it when they read it. In short, as I improve, my readers will improve.
"What about the books that are already sold and out there?" I asked.
"They aren't out there," he explained, once again blowing my mind with his mystic wisdom. "They are still in you."
In short, there is no out there.
It would take a whole book to explain this advanced technique with the depth it deserves. Suffice it to say that whenever you want to improve anything in your life, there's only one place to look: inside you.
"When you look, do it with love."
This article is from the forthcoming book "Zero Limits" by Dr. Joe Vitale and Dr. Len
Americans Have New Options for Their Own Mental Health
(Los Angeles, California): With the growing concern nationwide about violence, drug abuse, illiteracy, and other pressing social ills, people turn to their friends, their church, their doctors, school counselors and often, as a last resort, to the psychiatric industry for answers. But a new movement is rapidly developing. Similar to the popular trend to choose natural healing over orthodox medicine, people are doing the same for their mental health.
Actress Margot Kidder of Superman fame decided this week to lead the campaign to introduce a new voice for mental health care. On April 10, Ms.Kidder was appointed as the national spokesperson for AlternativeMentalHealth.com, the world's largest Internet site on non-drug mental health treatments.
"The number of people looking for help without medication is staggering, she said. Sometimes I am on the phone three to four hours a day with people asking me how I did it. Now I can refer them to AlternativeMentalHealth.com.
After years of searching for answers to her own health problems, Kidder finally resolved her troubles through nutrient therapy. I got a hold of a 900-page medical book on manic depression, sat down with my dictionaries and worked it out for myself, said Kidder.
Among other things, it said that certain amino acid deficiencies were common in manic depression. But the recommended treatment was drugs! Kidder continued. I thought,~Heck, why not just take the amino acids? I did and that was the starting point on my road to wellness.
The actress, who has appeared in 55 feature films and over 100 television shows and continues to work steadily, has since become a passionate spokesperson on behalf of people seeking nutritionally oriented drug-free mental treatments. She was in Los Angeles in January of this year to receive the Courage in Mental Health Award from the California Womens Mental Health Policy Council.
AlternativeMentalHealth.com is a much needed presence on the internet, she said. It has a directory of alternative mental health practitioners around the world and many, many articles on the various causes and drug-free treatments for mental problems.
A recent Harvard study confirms a dramatic increase in the public's interest in non-drug mental health treatments. Reporting in the February 2001 issue of the American Journal ofPsychiatry, the study authors claim, Complementary and alternative therapies are used more than conventional therapies by people with self-defined anxiety attacks and severe depression. Most patients visiting conventional mental health providers for these problems also use complementary and alternative therapies....Use of these therapies will likely increase as insurance coverage expands.
AlternativeMentalHealth.com issponsored by Safe Harbor, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit organization dedicated to educating the public, the medical field, and government agencies on drug-free alternatives for mental health problems. They emphasize the role of physical causes such as medical problems, allergies, toxic conditions, and nutritional imbalances.
Safe Harbor was founded by L.A.businessman, Dan Stradford, who saw his fathern crippled by electroshock therapy and heavy medication in the late 1950s. He was unrecognizable after that, Stradford says. But 42 years later, through nutrient therapy, we have been able to free him from taking antipsychotic drugs. He regained dignity by getting that part of his life back.
A wide variety of physical ailments can cause mental upheaval, yet these often are not looked for by physicians,who can be quick to prescribe antidepressants or other medications. Even when a full physical exam is done, many causes, such as a zinc deficiency or copper excess, could remain hidden because few doctors consider looking for them, usually due to a lack of education in the area of nutrition or a limited understanding of the dangerous effects of the psychotropic drugs they prescribe.
AlternativeMentalHealth.com includes numerous informative articles on specific symptoms and possible natural remedies. Ms. Kidder has recently included an article on amino acids, a natural substance research has shown to have powerful benefits without non-optimum side effects.
The simple fact, says Kidder, is that an extraordinary number of people dislike the effects that psychiatric medication has on them. It can dull the senses and cause all kinds of emotional and physical reactions. I know I was very upset to find out that very simple and logical alternatives existed but no doctor ever told me about them.
Psychiatric drug use has increased sharply in recent decades. In the 1960s, when tranquilizers first came on the market, Valium rapidly became themost prescribed drug in medical history.
Antidepressants and anti-anxietyagents are still widely in use. The Family Research Council estimates that 6 million American children are currently taking psychiatric drugs, primarily for Attention Deficit Disorder. Newsweek reports that prescription drug sales have doubled to $145 billion in the past five years.
The use of nutrient therapy for mental disorders has been around since the 1940s. Double-Nobel-prize-winner Linus Pauling was a champion of it and referred to it as orthomolecular (correct molecule) treatment. Research concentrates on extensive lab testing of subjects to determine what metabolic abnormalities they have in common.
One pioneer of nutrient therapy, Dr. Abram Hoffer of Canada, has used a nutrient protocol on schizophrenia, which has proven highly effective in six double-blind studies. The protocol is available free at AlternativeMentalHealth.com.
AlternativeMentalHealth.com. is here to give Americans of all ages a choice through education and access to doctors nationwide who are experts in fields such as nutritional deficiencies, hormonal and metabolicdisorders, and other things that can cause mental suffering, said Stradford. Many people are seeking alternatives to the often devastating effects of electroshock therapy or years on drugs. If we help one of them, then we have accomplished our goals.
For further information on http://alternativementalhealth.com/ contact Dan Stradford at 818-890-1862 or Christie Communications at 805-969-3744.
'Blooming good' mental health therapy
For Gavin however, gardening is more than just a hobby - for him it is also a therapy.
One day a week he has a placement at the Battersea Garden project in London, where for the last five years he has been using therapeutic gardening to help him deal with his schizophrenia.
Here, Gavin and others on placements are taught practical skills alongside specially trained staff who can also offer counselling advice.
Since he had his first schizophrenic episode as a young PHD student 20 years ago, Gavin has rarely worked.
He said the Battersea project, run by the charity Thrive, has offered him new opportunities of tackling his mental health problems.
"There is always the opportunity to talk to staff about personal issues.
"But I guess the focus is on the gardening and it being therapeutic.
"Most of the gardeners, like me, look after a patch of garden of their own and you do get a lot of satisfaction in doing this.
"It is a nice place to work and I think doing this has been one of the most useful things that I have done as far as helping my mental health goes.
"I get a sense of achievement from my gardening and most people can feel that, whether it is from growing tomatoes or bulbs."
He added that this sense of achievement was important to people like him whose illness had meant they had often had to drop out of things in the past.
Gavin said the work could be very physically demanding, but that people were encouraged to work at their own pace, ensuring it was not too regimented for those with mental health problems.
Now Thrive has been awarded a £32,000 grant by the Mental Health Foundation to look into the benefits of social and therapeutic horticulture for those with mental health problems.
Over 24,000 people a week use gardening projects like Gavin's, and research by Thrive shows that most of these have either learning difficulties or mental health problems.
Richard Jones, a horticultural therapist, said they worked closely with health workers and social services to provide support for those on the placements.
He said those using the scheme got a great sense of achievement from growing something.
"As part of the scheme we created a herb garden from scratch where everybody has pulled together.
"We have created one of the best herb gardens in London and it is open to the public.
"It is fantastic to grow something and it gives confidence and inspiration."
Nicola Carruthers, chief executive of Thrive said: "We are extremely excited about this pioneering research.
"We know from experience that gardening has valuable therapeutic benefits, and we urgently want to raise awareness of these among health and social care professionals."
Jane Harris of the mental health charity Rethink said they also helped support projects like this to aid people with mental health problems.
"We also have a couple of projects that do this as well.
"It is giving the people choices about what they want to do. It is not just about giving people drugs.
"It is about asking people what they want. The key is for people to make choices and have empowerment."
campaign for truth in medicine philip day
eft emotional freedom techniques
health wealth & happiness stephanie relfe
intar international network of treatment alternatives for recovery
my therapy practice designed for practitioners and students of alternative medicine worldwide
psychic children dolphins, dna and planetary grids
schizophrenia drug-free crisis centre
siha subud international health association