RYAN FRAZEE WRITES- How can we truly help the mentally ill?
The Western world has undoubtedly revolutionized science and medicine. Yet the West has often overlooked and mishandled mental illness. In the United States in particular, the unfortunate tradition of stigmatizing psychiatric disorders such as Social Anxiety and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is proving increasingly detrimental. In the United States, generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) accounts for 8% of primary-care visits and has a lifetime prevalence of 18%. Certain psychiatric disorders are being diagnosed at a rapidly increasing rate, especially youth depression and adult suicide ideation.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) represents a different approach. For thousands of years, TCM has prioritized an equilibrium of mind, body and spirit. Instead of using prescription drugs with potentially negative side effects, TCM offers patients low-risk, highly effective therapies such as acupuncture, moxibustion, tui na massage and herbal medicine. Acupuncture in particular has been scientifically proven to lower stress levels, specifically by positively stimulating pressure points throughout the nervous system. Long term benefits of acupuncture include relief from migraines, digestive issues, allergies and chronic pain. Contrary to what many Western doctors believe, TCM is not simply a band-aid approach to temporarily mitigate psychiatric disorders.
Besides, Western-based treatments for psychiatric disorders are expensive. American advocates of TCM seek to lighten this heavy financial burden.
The downward trajectory of mental health policies and practices started when President Reagan ended federal funding for mental health programs in 1981. Since then, professionals in healthcare as well as the general public have shown decreased mental health awareness. Yet mental health problems directly correlate with economic struggles. High rates of homelessness, the incarceration of schizophrenics and resulting low productivity in the workplace are incredibly costly for the nation.
TCM provides a loud voice railing against the silent ignorance, and apathy, prevalent in America today regarding the need to provide treatment for those suffering mental health problems…will the US, and the rest of the Western world, listen?