RYAN FRAZEE WRITTEN – How can we really help the mentally ill?

The Western world has undoubtedly revolutionized science and medicine. Yet the West has often overlooked and mismanaged 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 harmful. In the United States, Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) represents 8% primary care visits and has a lifetime prevalence of 18%. Some psychiatric disorders are diagnosed at a rapid rate, including depression in young people and suicidal ideation in adults.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) represents a different approach. For thousands of years, TCM has favored the balance of mind, body and spirit. Instead of using prescription drugs with potentially negative side effects, TCM offers patients low-risk and highly effective therapies such as acupuncture, moxibustion, tui na massage and herbal medicine. Acupuncture in particular has been scientifically proven to lower stress levels, in particular by positively stimulating pressure points throughout the nervous system. Long-term benefits of acupuncture include relief from migraine, digestive problems, allergies and chronic pain. Contrary to what many Western doctors think, TCM is not simply a band-aid approach to temporarily alleviate psychiatric disorders.

In addition, Western treatments for psychiatric disorders are expensive. American TCM advocates are seeking to alleviate this heavy financial burden.

The downward trajectory of mental health policy and practice began when President Reagan end of federal funding for mental health programs in 1981. Since then, health professionals as well as the general public have shown a decrease in awareness of mental health. Yet mental health problems are directly linked to economic hardship. High rates of homelessness, the incarceration schizophrenics and resulting low productivity in the workplace are incredibly costly to the nation.

TCM loudly denounces the silent ignorance and apathy that prevails in America today regarding the need to provide treatment for people with mental health problems… will the United States and the rest of the Western world listen ?

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