A mental health industry professional shares his perspective.
I’ve worked in in the mental health industry for just three years, and even in that short time, here have been developments and changes that have happened. The biggest change I’ve seen is the growth and sophistication of a holistic approach to psychological well-being.
When people ask, “what are integrated interventions?” this is what I tell them: Integrated interventions in mental health care include 3 essential elements.
I also always try to debunk the common misconception that ‘integrated interventions’ or ‘alternative treatments’ are against the medication. It’s not true! Integrated interventions actually mean a holistic approach to mental health care. They include medications, psychotherapy, alternative treatments, and cutting-edge technologies for improving the quality of mental health care.
Let’s talk about each and every element in detail so that we can understand what integrated interventions in mental health care actually imply.
Undoubtedly, medications have a big role to play in mental health treatment. Medications are a must for patients with chronic mental illness symptoms. They help to alleviate the symptoms and prevent relapse of a mental health disorder like:
Post-traumatic stress disorder
The most common types of medicines used for mental health treatments are:
Antidepressants: These are usually used for patients suffering from depression, anxiety disorders, and other behavioral issues. They help to alleviate the symptoms like hopelessness, sadness, lack of concentration, lethargy, and lack of interest in any kind of activity. Antidepressants like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) can help to cut down depression symptoms between 30% and 60%. They may also lead to a complete recovery of the patients.
Antipsychotic medications: These medicines are usually used for schizophrenic patients. They can also be used to treat people with bipolar disorder.
Mood-stabilizing medications: These medicines are best for people with bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorders are usually characterized by alternative episodes of mania and depression. Mood-stabilizers help to combat mood fluctuations. Sometimes, they are used with antidepressants to reduce the symptoms of depression.
Anti-anxiety medications: These medicines are used for curing panic disorder or anxiety disorder. They help to reduce anxiety, aggression and sleep disorders. Some medicines give short-term relief whereas others give long-term relief. Sometimes, psychiatrists don’t prescribe fast-acting anti-anxiety medicines to avoid causing dependency. Sometimes, patients become addicted to these medicines. Psychiatrists try to avoid that.
To get the best results out of medications, people must make informed choices. They need to take the right dosage and the right type of medications. For instance, if a patient with anxiety disorder takes medicines that have been developed for schizophrenic patients, then that would create a huge problem. The wrong medicines would destroy the mental balance of the patient.
Is medication the best way to promote mental health recovery? Urgh! No.
Many psychiatrists and psychologists say that the most effective way to cure mental illness is to use psychotherapy along with medications. Some of the most popular psychotherapies include:
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Dialectical Behavior Therapy
Solution-focused brief Therapy
While a combination of medicines and psychotherapy are an effective way to help people suffering from mental problems, some individuals are using alternative methods of treatments. In 2007, people spent almost $33.9 billion on alternative methods of treatment.
If you think that alternative treatments are anti-medical, you’re dead wrong. They are just a few natural ways to treat people suffering from depression, anxiety disorders, and other types of psychiatric disorders. Some people resort to alternative methods of treatments just to avoid the side-effects of medications. But that is a wrong concept. An individual can feel better only when medications, psychotherapy, and alternative methods of treatments are used simultaneously. An experienced psychiatrist is the best person to suggest how to use all the 3 elements judiciously.
Alternative methods of treatments for anxiety
Alternative methods of treatments for depression
Alternative methods of treatments for personality disorder
A few other alternative methods of treatments include music therapy, wilderness therapy, and nutrition therapy.
Alternative methods of treatments are a great solution for mental health patients. However, these treatments should always be used along with the clinical treatment as prescribed by psychiatrists. When both are used together, they give incredible results.
Alternative methods of treatment shouldn’t be used without consulting a psychiatrist. Most of these remedies come from plants and animals. But that doesn’t mean that they are absolutely safe. They have some bad side-effects, and that can clash with medications. Just think what will happen to your body if you take anti-depressants and marijuana simultaneously? Your mental health will be in terrible condition. If someone asks you to try alternative treatments, talk to your psychiatrist first.
There is yet another thing that you have to keep in mind. Most of these herbal products are not under FDA oversight. So there is no guarantee that the amount of active ingredients is the same in all the products, even if the brand is the same. Some products may have USP-DSVP (U.S. Pharmacopeia Dietary Supplement Verification Program) mark. Those products can be safe. Now the choice is yours.
What integrated interventions can tell you in your own therapist search?
Integrated interventions can tell you a lot about a potential health provider. For instance, it can tell you how the potential mental health provider will treat your psychiatric disorders. Like I said before, integrated interventions are a ‘holistic’ symbiosis of medication, psychotherapy, and alternative treatments. So, you can find out the treatment orientation of a psychiatrist/therapist.
Technology is a big part of ‘integrated interventions’. Some mental health providers who have expertise in treating psychiatric disorders through an integrative approach to psychological well-being use technologies to track your mental health progress. For instance, a face tracking software can tell if you’re sad, angry, happy or surprised. Likewise, there are tools to track a patient’s anxiety level across time and help the psychiatrist/therapist to make a proper diagnosis. You can learn about these things in your own therapist search.
Apart from medication, psychotherapy, and alternative methods of treatment, the integrated interventions in mental health care also take into account another important element, and that is cutting-edge technologies. You can use medications, psychotherapies, and alternative methods of treatment as much as you want. But how can you be sure that your mental health condition has improved? How can you track your progress across medications and across time? Nowadays, good mental health clinics are using technologies so that people can detect an oncoming mental health episode. This helps both patients and psychiatrists to take preventive measures and avoid another depressive episode in the near future.
My point of view
Integrated interventions can help to re-instill happiness in the lives of patients. They can help to drive away negative forces and heal all the self-inflicted wounds that disrupt one’s behavior. Also, it’s extremely important to track one’s mental health progress because without that it’s difficult to make a proper diagnosis. Just like doctors measure blood pressure and then prescribe medicines, psychiatrists should also think about the treatment orientation after checking the anxiety level.
Medication can help to reduce symptoms of depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, and other mental disorders. But psychotherapy and alternative treatments can help to bring tranquility in a patient’s life when used together with medication.
The biggest problem in behavioral health treatment is that doctors don’t know technology and tech-guys don’t understand medicines. Integrated interventions help to solve this problem.