Mental Healthcare in America Could Use a Healthy Dose of Chinese Medicine

by | Oct 10, 2023 | Blog Posts, Chinese Medicine, Systems Thinking

Most mental health treatment in America includes prescription medicine and psychotherapy. But results in the last century show that the biomedical healthcare system, alone, can’t fully manage America’s mental health needs. Since the pandemic, the number of people suffering from emotional and mental anguish is staggering compared with pre-pandemic levels.

 

More than 1 in 5 adults in the United States live with a mental illness.[1] Just imagine, in the wake of modern life and current events, how many people live with a negative emotion like anger, sadness, grief, anxiety or fear. The numbers are likely much higher!

 

You, as an adult, are fortunate to be in charge of your own health and have the power to add self-care skills to your life.

 

The challenge lies in how to choose what’s best for you.

 

You can go to therapy to treat your negative emotions, and there are several styles available. You can even combine psychotherapy with prescription medication. And if this combination works for you, that’s wonderful!

 

But there are 4 reasons why these two options might not work for everyone:

 

1.  Not Enough People

There aren’t enough people trained in mental health to take care of everyone who needs it. And it could get worse. More and more healthcare practitioners are facing moral injury (labeled as burnout by large healthcare organizations) from the unsustainable and undermining environments they work in.

 

2. Poor Access

Access becomes more difficult, especially, if you can’t afford the care. If you find a good therapist, they are often closed to accepting new patients or they put you on a waitlist. Longer delays in treatment potentially lead to poorer outcomes.

 

3.  Not Unique to You

Medications work for some people, don’t do much for others, and in some cases, are harmful. Each of you has a unique constitution according to Chinese medicine. If you know your constitutional 5-element pattern, (listen to Season 3, Ep 1), you’ll have a better sense of whether you need to expand beyond the biomedical framework.

 

4.  Too Much of the Same Thing

What if you CAN afford to get the healthcare you want? If you’re not sure what you need for your care, be careful what you want. Sometimes relying only on one medical model can lead to invasive and potentially harmful intervention, especially if you’re not responding to their methods of treatment.

 

 

The ultimate goal is to minimize your need to see a doctor.

 

One technique that can help reduce your emotional burden is a self-care method called EFT. My client, Ramey, shared her experience learning this from me on Season 3 of Third Opinion MD podcast (Episodes 6 and 7).[2]

 

What is EFT?

 

Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), is also known as tapping. It’s a rapid and simple technique that involves tuning into an intensely stressful thought while tapping acupuncture points in a sequence. EFT combines the effects of stimulating acupoints with Western cognitive behavioral therapy, desensitizing techniques, and imagined or actual exposure therapy.

 

The results, if EFT is correctly applied, lead to long-lasting or permanent relief from negative emotions connected with a thought or situation.

 

But how is it possible for a simple method to help with depression, anxiety, addiction, and phobia? Don’t complex problems require complex solutions?

 

When life gets complex, you might think back to when you were a kid. It’s not so much about life being simpler back then, but about how you perceived and approached the world. Adults tend to get in their own way more than kids do when it comes to emotional balance.

 

Children, the future of our society, depend on adults to guide them. They experienced more anxiety and depression from before to during the pandemic with a more significant increase in depressive symptoms among girls.[3] Their resilience is at risk of dwindling when they become adults. This is why the most powerful form of treatment for mental illness must be prevention and teaching self-care.

 

There’s a growing body of research recommending prevention through an integrative approach. According to the American Psychological Association’s publication, Promoting Mind-Body Health in Schools, EFT is “an emerging research-based intervention that has been found to be an effective stress and anxiety management tool for students and school personnel.”[4]

 

Studies with school children performing EFT resulted in:

  • lowered cortisol levels
  • reduction in perceived levels of stress
  • reduced anxiety
  • decreased test anxiety
  • improved self-esteem and compassion
  • improved reading scores and other subject areas

 

Teaching self-care and prevention should be a primary focus as early as possible, and EFT is one tool that can help. The evidence-based research is now catching up with the practice-based evidence from millions of people around the world successfully using this technique for their self-care.

 

A few words of caution:

  • EFT is not meant to replace your mental health care like therapy or medication, but it can enhance and potentially liberate your dependence on them.
  • Third Opinion MD values education, and this content does not take the place of clinical decision-making by healthcare providers. Please consult with your doctor for your health issues.
  • Do not learn EFT without supervision and guidance by a trained individual in this technique.

 

Expand your thinking about mental health from mental disorders as a problem of the mind to a more systematic approach to achieve emotional balance. EFT is one of many self-care tools I teach my clients so that they can be in charge of their health again.

 

Listen to how my client, Ramey, discovers EFT and shares her experience in Season 3, Episodes 6 and 7. Consider Ramey’s health story as a way to witness how to expand your thinking about mental health.

 

 

Never forget that the potential and simplicity of healing lies within you.

 

 

Follow Ramey’s Health Journey in Third Opinion MD podcast, Season 3

Season 3 is about pulling the curtain back so you can learn the process with my client, Ramey, on how to form a unique Health Strategy. Ramey reached a point where she wanted to dig deeper to find more health solutions through the Health Strategy Consult program.

 

Resources

Listen to Third Opinion MD podcast

Sign up for the Third Opinion MD Newsletter to stay up to date on workshops, podcast news and more:

Follow Third Opinion MD on Instagram

Book a Complimentary consult meeting with Barbara de la Torre

 

References

[1] About Mental Health. (2023, April 28). https://www.cdc.gov/mentalhealth/learn/index.htm

 

[2] Listen to Third Opinion MD podcast, Season 3, here: https://www.ThirdOpinionMD.org/podcast

[3] Madigan, S., Racine, N., Vaillancourt, T., Korczak, D. J., Hewitt, J. M. A., Pador, P., Park, J. L., McArthur, B. A., Holy, C., & Neville, R. D. (2023). Changes in Depression and Anxiety Among Children and Adolescents From Before to During the COVID-19 Pandemic. JAMA Pediatrics, 177(6), 567–581. https://doi.org/10.1001/jamapediatrics.2023.0846

 

[4] Gaesser, A. H. (2020). Emotional freedom techniques: Stress and anxiety management for students and staff in school settings. In Promoting mind–body health in schools: Interventions for mental health professionals (pp. 283–297). American Psychological Association. https://doi.org/10.1037/0000157-020

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