Thursday, July 23, 2009

Non-Medicinal Methods to Help Speed Recovery

Greetings All:

I would like to take a post to recognize the importance of the non-medicinal aspect of a recovery-based treatment. I once came across a rather apt metaphor, the standard medical approach of mental health treats the body as a hydraulic system. It treats mental healthcare consumers as if a problem is purely a questions of one’s fluids or chemicals being out of balance; thus with dogged determination (and much painful experimentation to the consumer) finding the right combination of medications will solve the problem.

Unfortunately, mental health ailments to not exist in a vacuum. They are very much influenced by social situations, environmental stimuli, and many many other factors. The mental health recovery model takes these other factors into consideration, and treats all levels of the consumer (rather than just the chemical level), leading to much more systematic, holistic remedies.

An ammendment to my earlier post, this metaphor is compliments of Larry Drain's creative works, so for more reading of his work click on the link and read up on his great blog!

Thus I would like to spend a few moments to talk about common approaches in the mental health recovery model for aspects of one’s life that cannot be resolved with medications. Importantly I do not mean to say the recovery model does not use medications, it absolutely does, and should, for many mental illnesses stem from biological imbalances, but medical intervention is just one factor of treatment, rather than THE factor of treatment.

Below are some of the two most popular and beneficial activities that one might find helpful that do not require medication:

1) Meditation: this seems to be coming up more and more frequently. Meditation, whether religious or non-denominational, seems to have power in the act of self-reflection. It also internalizes one’s locus of control thus making one much more responsive to their own actions. Meditation is actually now being taught in a form of recovery-based treatment known as dialectical behavior treatment, and is proving to be most effective! If you check out the online community, you will also notice countless posts of people with severe mental illnesses stating that they have effectively eliminated their symptom interference through a disciplined schedule of meditation.
2) Exercise: exercise is just as important as meditation as for recovery from a mental illness for exercise often takes the form of active meditation. It also releases stress and is just good for you in general! On a more medical side, exercise releases a chemical known as brain derived neurtropic factor, which recent research indicates is linked to recreating brain cells. An active lifestyle does wonders for recovery!

Of course if you would like to find out more information, there is a wealth of knowledge out there! Check out this article in particular: What Is Mental Health Recovery, and the Wiki is also surprisingly informative about the mental health recovery model!

Just a few ideas on natural ways to aid recovery!

Until next time,
MHCD Research and Evaluations


  1. Thanks for your comments on my blog Lex. It's great that you are linking to me. I have had a look at your blog this morning (sorry it took me so long to get round to it) and it is definitely all good quality stuff so I would be very happy to link to it from my blog. I have just started doing a bit of meditation which I think I will find very helpful and I am a great believer in exercise as a pick-me-up and stress reliever. Anything that is an alternative to the 'magic pills' mentality has got to be a good thing!
    Best Wishes,

  2. Hey John:

    No worries we are all busy! I will add you to my links as well! I wonder if you might keep us posted as to the effects of meditation on your recovery?

    Also are you practicing seated meditation or more active forms of meditation?

    Thanks for the reply! Always a pleasure!

  3. Good site here. Exercise is a brilliant way to fight off low mood. If you want I can post you an article I wrote about the benefits of running....I used to be really unhealthy but started running about 12 years ago when i had really bad depression...step by step and now I can do 7 or 8 miles a day if i want, though i probably average about 5 or's not healthy to run every day. I think you already linked to my blog. But i like the idea of recovery as a topic of focus.

  4. Hi,Alex Jenson
    We would love to have a link to that article. We could post the article on our blog. Also would love it if you can link to our blog.