Harmony in Healing: The Evolution of Integrative Mental Health Services
Integrative mental health services represent a progressive approach to holistic wellness, seamlessly merging conventional psychiatric practices with complementary and alternative therapies. These services prioritize personalized care for mental well-being, recognizing the interconnectedness of mind, body, and spirit. By blending evidence-based treatments with complementary modalities such as mindfulness, nutrition, exercise, and mind-body techniques, integrative mental health aims to foster resilience, empower individuals in their healing journey, and promote sustainable mental wellness. This approach acknowledges clients’ diverse needs and preferences, providing a dynamic framework that improves collaboration among practitioners to enhance mental health outcomes.
Discover the Integrative Approach to Nutrition and Weight Management Services.
Nutrition is always a key component in mental health treatment. Individuals grappling with developmental issues like ADHD and mood disorders like depression have exhibited nutritional deficiencies. Inflammation is a significant contributor to chronic medical and mental health issues. The foods that contribute to inflammation in the body are those high in sugar and high fructose corn syrup, are highly processed, and contain tons of dyes and preservatives, like candy, potato chips, and soda. In addition, trans fats or partially hydrogenated oils, excessive alcohol, and processed meats, like bacon, smoked meats, and sausage, have also been linked to inflammation. Diet plans that help reduce inflammation include the Mediterranean diet, Blue Zone Diet, intermittent fasting, vegan/ vegetarian, and anti-inflammatory diets. Outside of a specific diet plan, I counsel parents and youth to focus on a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, healthy fats, legumes, and good-quality beef.
IV Hydration/Nutritional Support
Sleep is crucial for children and adolescents, given it is a time for growth, restoration, and repair. A lack of sleep or poor sleep habits in children and adolescents can lead to learning, mood, and behavioral issues. In addition, certain mental health conditions can worsen sleep issues. Depression, for example, can lead to problems around falling asleep, staying asleep, and waking up too early.
Typical care options include a structured sleep hygiene routine such as going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, a warm bath before bed, warm tea or milk, elimination of electronics at least one to two hours before bed, and sleep relaxation techniques, such as progressive muscle relaxation. Other options to combat sleep issues are closing off light from the room with heavy shades and eliminating all illuminated devices, including clocks. I also recommend setting the room temperature between 65-68°F at night.
Utilizing exercise as a primary intervention is integral in my approach to addressing various mental health concerns. From stress, burnout, ADHD, anxiety, depression, you name it, exercise can help. Exercise helps regulate stress levels, reduce anxiety, improve focus and concentration, and release natural feel-good endorphins. On top of those great benefits, exercise releases brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). This helps to improve our brain functioning and overall ability to think. Low levels of BDNF are associated with depression, anxiety, and problems with thinking and memory.
Meditation is a great entry point of care for children and teens. It reduces stress, helps with sleep, and builds resilience to future depression and anxiety. Try various kinds of meditation to see what your child or teen likes. I recommend starting with mindfulness and guided meditation. Other mind-body techniques I recommend include breathing exercises, yoga, t’ai chi, qigong, biofeedback, and progressive muscle relaxation.
Mind-body practices harmonize the mind and body, fostering a sense of healing and well-being. Typical mind-body techniques encompass elements like breathing, mindfulness, meditation, and movement as integral components of the practice. These methods prove highly effective in alleviating stress, enhancing mood, and mitigating anxiety and pain. Regular practice of these techniques balance the sympathetic (fight-or-flight) and the parasympathetic (calming) nervous systems, reducing stress and anxiety. These techniques can alter our brain networks and improve calmness, focus, clarity, and self-awareness.
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