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What is Mental Health?

Written by Jonathan Perry

Mental health shapes every aspect of life. Prioritising ourselves at this fundamental level lays the groundwork for our thoughts, emotions, and actions.

As an ever-present reality that filters our experiences, impacting our relationships, decision-making processes, and overall quality of life, the question that lingers is critical: What truly is mental health? Unravelling the essence of mental well-being involves peeling back layers, understanding its holistic nature, and recognising its continuous influence on our journey through life.

Defining Mental Health

While definitions may vary, understanding mental health requires a holistic perspective encompassing emotional, psychological, and social dimensions. It extends beyond clinical parameters and is shaped by the multidimensional nature of human experience. This holistic perspective departs from rigid definitions, acknowledging mental health as dynamic and multifaceted.

A comprehensive understanding of mental health recognises the fluidity of human emotions and experiences. People find themselves at different points on the mental health spectrum, influenced by factors such as genetics, environment, and life events. Understanding mental wellness within this context highlights the complex nature of psychological well-being.

The impact of mental well-being on daily life is real. From shaping decision-making to influencing interpersonal relationships, mental health permeates every aspect of our lives. Acknowledging mental health’s role in daily life underscores the dangers of neglecting it. Recognising when we need recalibration or professional help is the first step towards well-being.

Traditional Mental Health Treatment Options

Medication

When it comes to mental health treatment, medication, particularly Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) and Serotonin-Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs), play an important role. These medications modulate neurotransmitters in the brain to restore equilibrium and alleviate symptoms associated with mental health disorders.

However, the landscape of medication efficacy is complex and multifaceted, with responses varying significantly among individuals. Additionally, these medications can sometimes come with unwanted side effects, requiring careful consideration and personalised adjustment of treatment plans to ensure the best outcomes.

Psychotherapy

Talk therapy, a cornerstone in mental health care, involves techniques such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). These approaches aim to help individuals understand and reshape their thought patterns in a therapeutic setting for addressing various mental health challenges. The success of psychotherapy isn’t just about the therapeutic techniques themselves, but it’s also highly dependent on the relationship between an individual and their therapist.

Success Rates of Traditional Treatments

Peeling back the layers of mental health treatment reveals a wide range of responses to medication and varying effectiveness of psychotherapy. The success rates of traditional therapies are not universal, with individual factors such as personal resilience, life circumstances, and the unique nature of mental health conditions contributing significantly to the outcomes of traditional approaches.

Complementary Therapies for Mental Health

Lifestyle Psychiatry

Lifestyle psychiatry integrates psychiatric care with lifestyle modifications. This big-picture paradigm recognises how daily habits affect mental well-being, focusing significantly on diet, exercise, sleep, and stress management. This holistic psychiatric approach is all about emphasising the cause-and-effect relationship between habits and mental health.

Open engagement with lifestyle psychiatry provides individuals with an opportunity for self-discovery and empowerment. People learn how to chart their mental health journey by actively assessing their behaviour around diet, exercise, and stress management. This proactive approach fosters a sense of ownership and agency, encouraging people to make the right choices.

Individual and Group Therapy

Individual and group therapy helps people learn about themselves and the dynamics at play surrounding their mental health. Individual therapy takes people on a personalised and introspective journey. This allows individuals to delve deep into their thoughts and emotions. This personalised exploration, guided by a skilled therapist, facilitates self-discovery, resilience building, and the reshaping of thought patterns.

On the other hand, group therapy is a communal space fostering support, connection, and shared experiences. Participants come together, sharing the challenges and triumphs of their mental health journeys, creating a space for understanding and resilience. The group dynamic provides a supportive environment where people not only gain insights from their therapist but also draw strength from the collective wisdom of their peers. This collaborative approach also promotes a sense of community, harnessing the power of shared experiences as a powerful catalyst for growth and healing.

Relationship Therapy

Addressing mental health within relationships, relationship therapy is a vital component of holistic mental health care. This therapeutic approach is designed to promote healthy communication and understanding in relationships. Relationship therapy can be effective for people seeking holistic approaches to mental health that help navigate the complexities of interpersonal dynamics.

Relationship therapy goes beyond individual experiences, recognising that mental well-being often correlates with our connections with others. It provides a collaborative space where couples or family members can explore and understand each other, fostering deeper connections and fresh perspectives. This approach emphasises healthy relationships as a cornerstone of mental health, understanding the feedback loop between individual and relational health.

Ketamine-Assisted Healing

Ketamine-assisted therapy provides a lifeline for people navigating the challenging terrain of severe depression. As a compound traditionally used as an anaesthetic, ketamine has demonstrated real potential in mental health. Modulating neurotransmitters, particularly glutamate, induces rapid and profound effects on mood regulation. This treatment is especially valuable for people with depression that’s proven resistant to traditional interventions.

Ketamine-assisted therapy is powerful yet forgiving. Unlike SSRIs, which help manage surface-level symptoms, ketamine-assisted therapy helps bring awareness to the root problem. For many, ketamine-assisted therapy paves the path towards profound discovery, allowing them to dive into past trauma or negative thought patterns. When paired with the structure and support of talk therapy in a controlled environment, ketamine-assisted healing is a transformative treatment with therapeutic effects that go beyond traditional boundaries.

Nutritional Therapy

It’s common knowledge that what we feed our bodies affects our physical appearance. Nutritional therapy focuses on the relationship between diet and the mind. This approach extends beyond nutrition’s role in physical health; it acknowledges the interplay between dietary choices and mental well-being. Implementing targeted nutritional changes can help people tap into the healing powers of consuming the right foods.

Nutritional therapy operates on the premise that the body and mind are interconnected systems, and what we consume significantly influences our mental health. By adopting a balanced and nourishing diet, people can address nutritional imbalances that may contribute to mental health challenges. This approach is about personalised guidance, acknowledging the uniqueness of each individual’s dietary needs in their journey towards mental well-being.

Deep Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation

For people suffering from treatment-resistant depression, deep transcranial magnetic stimulation (DTMS) is an alternative treatment with promising results. This revolutionary technology targets specific brain regions associated with mood regulation, offering hope for people who have tried everything to no avail. This innovative approach is expanding therapeutic horizons for people dealing with the complexities of treatment-resistant depression.

Deep transcranial magnetic stimulation involves using magnetic fields to stimulate nerve cells in the brain, particularly in regions implicated in mood disorders. The non-invasive nature of Deep TMS distinguishes it from more traditional interventions, presenting a well-tolerated and potentially transformative option for people seeking effective alternative treatment.

Fitness and Massage Therapy

As mentioned previously, physical and mental well-being are intimately connected. Knowing the profound impact of movement and physical therapy on mental wellness, weaving together exercise and massage therapy can create a holistic foundation for well-being. Finding the balance between exertion and recovery can lift baseline mood. As any gym-goer would tell you, feeling good physically is correlated with feeling good mentally, especially with the help of exercise-induced endorphins.

Beyond looking good in the mirror, physical activity is known for its role in promoting mental health. Regular exercise has been associated with improved mood, reduced anxiety, and enhanced cognitive function. When paired with massage therapy, which contributes to relaxation and stress reduction, this combined approach yields benefits from the inside and outside. This two-dimensional strategy invigorates the body and nurtures the mind.

Virtual Therapy

In an era of technological advancements, virtual therapy has emerged as a widely available treatment option in mental health care. This mode of therapy leverages technology to provide remote support, breaking barriers and ensuring distance doesn’t prevent compassionate care. Virtual therapy represents the adaptability of mental health services in the modern day, meeting individuals where they are and expanding options and opportunities for support.

Everyone deserves access to quality mental health care, regardless of physical location, and this relatively recent development in mental healthcare signifies a commitment to inclusivity. Receiving virtual support eliminates geographical limitations, making mental health support more accessible to anyone with an internet connection. The convenience of virtual sessions gives people the freedom to engage in therapy from the comfort of their homes, fostering a sense of security and flexibility.

Integrated Mental Health Treatment Packages

Due to the complexity of mental health, integrated treatment packages offer a comprehensive and personalised approach. The right package acknowledges the uniqueness of each person’s journey and combines various therapies tailored to individual needs. Holistic well-being becomes possible as people are guided through a blend of traditional and complementary therapies.

Integrated treatment packages represent a commitment to individualised care, recognising that mental health challenges are multifaceted and unique to each person. Combining traditional treatments with complementary therapies offers a nuanced and holistic approach to mental well-being. When different therapies work in harmony, patients can experience better outcomes.

Embracing Holistic Mental Wellness

The power of a whole-person approach to mental health can’t be overstated. Many seek a space to openly explore their well-being, free from judgment and stigma. There are many ways to find this space, and each person’s path is unique.

The whole-person approach is built on the understanding that mental well-being is influenced by many factors across emotional, psychological, social, and physical dimensions. Embracing this holistic perspective helps people navigate their mental health journey with a sense of wholeness, recognising the interconnectedness of various aspects of their lives. This approach also fosters self-acceptance, encouraging people to explore their mental well-being without shame.

APN London’s Commitment to Mental Health

At APN London, our commitment to mental health is unwavering. We understand the complexity of the human experience and offer a range of services designed to provide personalised and integrated support. From innovative treatments to traditional approaches, we believe in tailoring our services to the individual, building a brighter mental health future for all.

To get started with mental health support at APN London, call 0203 984 7699 or complete our online contact form.

References

  • Manwell, Laurie A et al. “What is mental health? Evidence towards a new definition from a mixed methods multidisciplinary international survey.” BMJ open vol. 5,6 e007079. 2 Jun. 2015, doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2014-007079
  • Ohrnberger, Julius et al. “The relationship between physical and mental health: A mediation analysis.” Social science & medicine (1982) vol. 195 (2017): 42-49. doi:10.1016/j.socscimed.2017.11.008