HOLISTIC ALTERNATIVES ( please see the research and link page for weblink nos below)
• Caring and empowering personal advocacy from the first contact with any service, including information about side-effects of drugs prescribed.
• Various psychotherapeutic models leading to greater self-awareness, increased self-esteem, better stress management and self-empowerment, such as counselling, open dialogue therapy and Cognitive Behavioural Therapies. See above links re Soteria houses (3), John Watkins (4) and Finnish Open dialogue (12)
•Support to find a life-enhancing diet and exercise regime. There is a lot of research regarding the use of Nutrition in treating mental illness e.g. orthomolecular medicine. (7) And a huge evidence base of the importance of exercise for mental well-being (1)
• Support and help with reducing medication safely once symptoms abate, such as is carried out by the Freedom center in USA. (7)
• Facilitated and/or peer-led support groups (e.g. Hearing Voices Network NZ)(1o)
• Research and development into what those being treated truly find effective.
• Co-operative treatment, rather than compulsory treatments. If the compulsory treatments currently being used were truly safe and effective, surely people would not have to be forced to use them.
• There is growing evidence-based research on other modalities that are effective for treating mental health disorders, such as yoga and mindfulness meditation, acupuncture, cranial osteopathy, vitamin and mineral analysis and treatments.
None of these are “magic bullets”, but there is huge healing potential in a person being supported in a wide range of these options.
Many of us involved in the field believe that the use of psychiatric medications on children under 12 years of age should be banned.
“Not only is there is no solid science behind viewing mental disorders as simple malfunctions of biology “corrected” by drugs, but many people with even the most severe diagnosis of schizophrenia or bipolar go on to recover completely without medication. The experiences that get labeled mental disorders are not “incurable” or always “lifelong:” they are more mysterious and unpredictable. For some people psychiatric drugs are helpful tools that change consciousness in useful ways, but they are not medically necessary treatments for illness. Once you acknowledge this, more options become thinkable. And the potential risks of psychiatric drugs come under greater scrutiny, because they are very serious: including chronic illness, mental impairment, dependency, worse psychiatric symptoms, and even risk of early death.”
The Harm Reduction Guide to Coming of Psychiatric drugs Published by Icarus Project and the Freedom Center. Page 10
With thanks to Adrienne Giacon of Hearing Voices NZ Network for providing some of this information and extra research links and to Rachel Tobin, Fergus Wheeler and Linda Bremford for editing help