Veterans suffering from PTSD deserve effective help.
“The need for non-drug treatment options is a significant and urgent public health imperative,” says NCCIH Director Josephine Briggs, MD.
Urgent, because the need for cure is growing, and also because conventional drug treatments aren’t working over the long haul.
This excerpt comes from a thoughtful and helpful Arlington, Virginia Patch article by Richard Geiger, who follows the VA’s search for non-drug PTSD treatment of symptoms.
Geiger looks at how the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) are focusing treatment on individuality.
He also looks at lessons learned from the experience of Col. (Ret) Janet Horton, a Christian Science U.S. Army Chaplain, one of the first female chaplains ever called into active duty. She found it unproductive to try to work directly with symptoms at all. Instead, she focused on the individual’s untouched spiritual identity.
There’s a reason they’re called man’s best friend.
If you’ve ever had a dog, then you already know something about dogs’ unconditional love. This warrants considering more deeply the divine source and nature of love and its healing power.
Health blogger Linda Ross in Connecticut shares a touching account on LinkedIn of a dog’s unconditional love reaching a soldier suffering with PTSD. It gives a glimpse into unconditional love’s ability to reach below the surface and melt away “difficult memories”. We might also consider how we all have a “divine friendship” with divine Love.
With the one-year anniversary of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, coming up tomorrow, Saturday, December 14, it’s important to turn our hearts and thoughts in directions that will continue the healing process.
In Watching what we’re watching for health’s sake, we are reminded that research shows a link between watching news of traumatic events and stress symptoms. It’s helpful to limit our intake of traumatic images and keep the main focus on good things. For example, Fred Rogers, beloved host of the children’s TV series “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood”, shared his mother’s advice to “Look for the helpers.”¹ St. Paul said, “Whatsoever things are … of good report; … think on these things.“²
The people of Newtown appear to understand this. According to a story by Boston’s NPR news station WBUR, “residents of Newtown, Conn., have decided against a public commemoration to mark the first anniversary this coming Saturday of the shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School… Instead, the town is endorsing a ‘year of service’ and is asking residents to put a candle in their window on Dec. 14, the day of the shooting, to show their commitment to the idea of service to each other.” John Woodall, psychiatrist and Newtown resident, explained, “We came back to this idea that a commitment to transform that anguish into a commitment to compassion and kindness, that’s where we wanted to keep the focus.”
And it turns out that service is also good for health. Studies have shown an association between volunteering and health benefits – both physical and mental. These benefits include lower rates of depression and fewer incidences of heart disease, as well as greater longevity. For example, researchers at the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan found that volunteers experienced a significantly lower mortality rate if their service was done unselfishly.
So, it seems we need to both “look for the helpers”, and be the helpers!
As hearts continue to mend, it’s fitting that an online memorial site created by the victims’ families uses a heart for a symbol in its design. The motto at the bottom says, “Sandy Hook School – Always in our hearts”.
St. Paul once expressed this prayerful petition for a group he was ministering to:
“That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love…”²
And a more recent religious and spiritual thinker, Mary Baker Eddy, once shared this heart-felt sentiment:
“May the great Shepherd that ‘tempers the wind to the shorn lamb,’ and binds up the wounds of bleeding hearts, just comfort, encourage, and bless all who mourn.”³
As we remember – perhaps with a candle in the window, a commitment to unselfish service, and a loving prayer from the heart – may all find comfort and peace!
Images of the category EF-5 tornado that went through portions of Oklahoma on Monday and the trail of destruction it left behind can be disturbing to watch. And, as in the case of other recent tragedies, such as hurricane Sandy, the Newtown massacre and the Boston Marathon bombing, our hearts yearn for everyone involved to find comfort and peace, along with any needed provisions.
Perhaps we recognize familiar sentiments from these words of the Old Testament prophet Jeremiah when he wrote in the book of Lamentations¹ about devastation:
The recent tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut pulls at the heartstrings of all of us. We long to know that everyone involved will soon find some measure of comfort and peace.
As we search for answers to why the tragedy unfolded in the first place and to how to help children who are suffering trauma recover, many have offered helpful ideas. One idea struck me as not only of benefit in dealing with trauma but also useful for preventing the illnesses that can accompany stress and emotional duress.
In a recent opinion piece¹ in Heritage-Media West newspapers, Smita Nagpal, a licensed psychologist and licensed professional counselor, advised, “Limit exposure to TV images and news coverage. The graphic images and repetitive scenes can be disturbing for children.” “Talk honestly about the incident, without graphic detail…”
May was National Mental Health Month here in the U.S.
Here are brief excerpts from five interesting news stories on the subject that show things we’re learning, new approaches that are being tried to treat mental health issues, and a recognition that spirituality is important.