According to the World Health Organization, between 35 and 50 percent of people in high-income countries (including the United States) with mental disorders are not receiving mental health treatment.
Many experts agree that incorporating integrative medicine and health into mental health treatment protocols could lead to better outcomes (compared to conventional medicine alone) and provide care to a greater number of people. Not everyone understands what integrative mental health is, though.
For those who are confused or uncertain, answered below are some of the most common questions about integrative mental health medicine and complementary therapy.
Table of Contents
(click on a question to be directed quickly)
What is Integrative Medicine?
Is Integrative Medicine used in Mental Health?
Can alternative or holistic medicine assist Mental Health?
What are the success rates of using “Western” and “Eastern” Medicine compared to Just Western?
What Is Integrative Medicine?
The Cleveland Clinic defines integrative medicine as a type of health care that combines conventional treatment (or “western treatment”) with alternative therapies (or “eastern treatment”).
Examples of conventional medical care practitioners include primary care physicians (MDs and Dos), nurse practitioners, and physician assistants. Examples of alternative practitioners include acupuncturists, chiropractors, and massage therapists.
An integrative approach is informed by evidence and uses practices from both ends of the spectrum in the healing process. It combines approaches from healthcare professionals and disciplines to achieve optimal health and healing.
Is Integrative Medicine Used in Mental Health?
Integrative medicine can be used to address a wide range of conditions, including mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. There is even a dedicated branch of the National Institutes of Health known as the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health that investigates integrative, non-traditional treatments for mental illness.
However, Integrative Medicine is still not very common in mainstream therapy clinics. Implementing medication and psychotherapy with supplements, herbs, gut-biome testing, and pharmacogenetic testing is considered cutting-edge.
Can Alternative or Holistic Medicine Assist Mental Health?
According to the Stanford Center for Integrative Medicine, a variety of alternative therapies can be combined with conventional medical care to treat those struggling with mental health challenges. This includes evidence-based techniques like acupuncture, hypnosis, mindfulness meditation, and the use of dietary supplements.
Integrative mental health practitioners often pair these treatments with other, traditional approaches like individual psychotherapy and psychiatry.
When a health system only focuses on one aspect of a patient’s struggles instead of all the factors that influence their symptoms, they may be neglecting important pieces of the puzzle. By combining both in an integrative approach, the relationship between practitioner and patient gets stronger and the patient may see better and longer-lasting results.
What Are the Success Rates of Using “Western” and “Eastern” Medicine Compared to Just Western?
Less than half of Americans who suffer from a mental health disorder get treatment, and a mere 10 percent receive effective treatment. So, there are serious gaps where traditional approaches are missing.
Although integrative mental health care is a relatively new concept, the outcomes look quite promising. For example, according to this study published by The Permanente Journal, the results of one survey showed that 55 percent of respondents saw improvements in their depression and anxiety symptoms when they visited clinics that used integrative therapies. This is comparable to more traditional approaches.
The benefit of combining western and eastern medicine is that it provides a more comprehensive look at the whole patient. Rather than just prescribing medicine to treat symptoms, integrative medicine offers a multifaceted approach that addresses a person’s condition from many different angles.
Lake, J., & Turner, M. S. (2017). Urgent need for improved mental health care and a more collaborative model of care. The Permanente Journal, 21.
National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health
The Cleveland Clinic. (2021). Integrative Heatlh.
Stanford Center for Integrative Medicine
World Health Organization. (2013). Mental health action plan 2013-2020.
Disclaimer: ALL IN Therapy Clinic aims to improve people’s lives. We do this through providing effective mental health counseling by passionate professionals. Inspired by this, we write content for your own education. Also, our content is researched, cited, reviewed, and edited by licensed mental health professionals. However, the information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Additionally, it should not be used in place of the advice of a qualified healthcare provider.
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