Mental health can be improved and maintained by treating the whole person and by helping the patient feel connected with – and loved by – others and the divine.
Treating the whole person
In 2007 Malkia Newman was appointed to the board of the Oakland County Community Mental Health Authority and she now chairs this board. Speaking at last month’s Public Services Committee meeting, she shared her insights from being the only person ever to be treated by the program and, then, to become its board chair. “Having received the treatment, having received the education, because education and treatment go hand in hand – you can’t just throw medicine at a problem, you have to treat the whole person.”
It’s a little word, really. One that often gets overlooked in the drama of an exciting story as it’s told or recorded. The word is a soft one to say; it’s a meek word. But more than most, it’s a mighty word.
In a brief video, Eric Bashor in the Christian Science Press Room shares how some mental health treatments today go beyond a drug-based approach.
Bashor cites a Washington Post article by Tony Lobl entitled, World Alzheimer’s Day: The healing depths of togetherness. The article includes this guidance from Professor John Swinton of the University of Aberdeen: “…good dementia care has to do with enabling the persons to remain in relationship with God and with one another despite the ravages of the condition.”
Russ Gerber takes up this question in a recent in-depth article in The Washington Times entitled, “First, health care excellence” - apparently inspired by a question asked at a recent talk sponsored by the Harvard Medical School. Gerber draws some interesting lessons from placebos and the Pony Express in his examination of the benefits of improving our ideals.
What is an ideal? Dictionaries, including Webster’s Dictionary, draw this picture of the word “ideal” for us:
(noun) a standard of perfection, beauty, or excellence;
(noun) a principle to be aimed at.
(adjective) existing as a mental image;
(adjective) relating to or constituting mental images, ideas, or conceptions.
What we expect and accept matters. Better ideals help us move from ordinary to excellence.
Gerber writes, “Having a higher thought model, an ideal of excellence in all aspects of health care, is the first step toward improving today’s health care system and our own health practices.”
Consider these thought-provoking questions about grief:
Is grief a mental illness?
Do drugs help or hinder the healing of grief?
What brings comfort to the grief caused by loss and pain?
Anna Bowness-Park, of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, answers these questions in a tender, heart-warming article in which she shares how she found freedom from intense (or “raw”, as she puts it) grief after the passing of a beloved uncle. This article was first published in The Times Colonist on October 17, 2012, but its message seems especially timely in light of recent events.
My previous post was a guest post by friend and colleague Stormy Becker Falsoin Georgia about her insights as a runner, having run her first marathon earlier this year. That guest piece was published shortly before the tragic events at the Boston Marathon. With the events of that day still pulling at our heartstrings, I thought you might enjoy seeing how this runner prays.
With the Boston Marathon being run today, this guest post by my friend and colleague Stormy Becker Falso in Georgia seems especially relevant. A runner for some time, she ran in her first marathon earlier this year. Enjoy her insights.
I heard the rhythmic footfalls quickly approaching from behind. I was running my fastest, but I could hear them overtaking me. A runner, tall and lithe, effortlessly passed me. I watched as he disappeared into the distance. As I continued my steady gait, I thought about his efficient movement and grace.
Instead of feeling impatient with my own plodding pace, I spent time thinking about how this runner’s example of effortless speed, revealed possibilities for my own improvement. I see the same possibilities when I read about people who have been healed of illness through prayer. I find these reports of healing not only in religious and spiritual literature but also in popular non-fiction. For example, have you read the incredible story of Louis Zamperini in “Unbroken”? He left PTSD and raging alcoholism behind virtually overnight as a result of a spiritual experience.
Perhaps her prominence in the field of health is sometimes overlooked because of her historical association with a religion and the fact that medicine and medical research, in her day especially, were almost exclusively the purview of men.
In celebration of Women’s History Month the Huffington Post ran an article last month with pictures of “50 Women Who Shaped America’s Health“. Numerous comments were shared online noting that this list is incomplete.
The Huffington Post listened and added 5 more women taken from their readers’ input. That makes this list 50+5.
Certainly there are many more. But here’s one woman that surely should be included in the field of health – Mary Baker Eddy.
It’s springtime, when the rains bathe and nourish nature and then the winds come to dry things out.
This week has been designated in Michigan as Severe Weather Awareness Week. Already, we’re seeing occasional wind advisories in our weather forecasts. For safety’s sake, it’s certainly wise to be alert and aware.
And just as flying above the clouds lifts us above storms, when it comes to health, spirituality can help us get on top of things.
I write about how spirituality and thought benefit health and serve as the media and legislative spokesperson for Christian Science in Michigan. A life-long Michigander and MSU graduate, I like to travel and am a fairly decent table tennis player.