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Alternative Therapies May Promote Better Mental Health

Part of the Get Through the Winter Series
Meditation. Massage. Yoga. Acupuncture. Acupressure. Mat Pilates. You’re probably a little surprised to see these in a Silver Hill Hospital post.

You know us as a psychiatric hospital that practices disciplined, world-class psychiatric medicine. And you are correct. We are what is called an “evidence-based” hospital.

According to the American Psychological Association, an evidence-based practice “is the integration of the best available research with clinical expertise in the context of patient characteristics, culture, and preferences.”

In other words, our treatment modalities are based on clinically relevant research, with strong supporting evidence. We use traditional psychotherapy combined with pharmacology if appropriate. Treatments are tailored for each individual patient, taking into account their specific mental and physical condition, support systems, and home, work or school environments.

We also strongly believe our patients must be an active participant in their own recovery, and cannot hold a spouse or family member responsible for their well being. Our doctors, clinicians and staff work with them every step of the way, but patients cannot expect anyone else to “fix” them.

It was patients seeking to improve their lives who first asked us to make available what is called Complementary and Alternative Medicine, or CAM. And we found they are not alone in this desire.

In fact, according to the National Center for Health Statistics, patients visited alternative and complementary practitioners 354 million times in 2007. That represents about 11 percent of total out-of-pocket costs of health care.

Even more impressive, most visits are not covered by insurance. A 2011 American Hospitals Association survey reports that 37 percent of the responding institutions are offering CAM therapies, up from 26.5 percent six years earlier.

While there is restively less empirical evidence behind alternative medicine, there is mounting anecdotal evidence that in the right circumstances and when combined with traditional methods, it can help.

Through our Wellness Program, we offer CAM programs that give patients tools to help deal with stress, cravings, withdrawal and anxiety. Another benefit is that CAM programs do not negatively interact with any medications.

CAM therapies are not required but can be elected by our patients. Each patient is assessed for appropriateness before beginning any CAM program and participate in their free time. Even so, many of the services and classes are fully booked.

I’ve asked Sue Sherman, Coordinator of our Wellness Programs, to go through our current selections with you. Silver Hill is always focused on improving patient outcomes, and offering this integrative approach to patient care is one more way to help our patients succeed. Remember, these will not replace evidence-based therapies, but we hope you’ll find them useful and uplifting additions.

– Dr. Sigurd Ackerman
President and Medical Director

Complementary and Alternative Medicines (CAM) offered at Silver Hill Hospital

I’m very excited to share to with you the CAM services and treatments our Wellness Program offers. Our goal is to not only help our patients when they are here for a visit but also introduce them to a variety of alternative therapies that can be used when discharged.

Practitioners each have their own style, so you many want to check out studios and references to find the one that is right for you. Always be sure to work with someone who is fully licensed. There are also many books, CDs and DVDs available. I’ve listed a few from our library below.

Meditation
Offered on a regular basis in our residential treatment program, meditation helps restore inner calmness and a sense of being more centered. Meditation is useful because it can be practiced anywhere by anyone at any time (do not try while driving or operating equipment). Next time you are feeling stressed, close your eyes and focus inward. You’ll find yourself relieved, refreshed and able to focus anew.

Massage
Massage can soothe your muscles and improve flexibility and circulation. Here at the hospital we use it for stress reduction and to help with withdrawal symptoms. Massage is a natural healer of the body.

Yoga
Many of you are familiar with yoga. It is a philosophy and exercise system that combines movements and simple poses with deep breathing and mediation to promote healing, relaxation and to reduce fatigue. Yoga calms the mind and body and uplifts the soul.

Acupuncture
Acupuncture is the process of applying ultra thin, disposable, sterile needles to specific points on the body with the goal of stimulating the nervous system and improving the body’s natural healing abilities. Acupuncture is one of the oldest medical therapies in the world, and can be traced back to ancient China.

Acupressure
Similar to Acupuncture but without needles, practitioners use their hands to apply gentle pressure on strategic points on the body. Acupressure is an ancient art of self healing and is used to release tensions. Our practitioner shows our clients how to apply pressure themselves, so they can use the practice individually.

Craniosacral Massage
This is a gentle hands on approach to body work. Craniosacral Massage therapists work the spine and head to ease the restrictions of nerve passage and reduce pain. Our patients find it helps with stress and anxiety.

Mat Pilates
Mat Pilates helps our patients achieve a greater sense of physical and mental well-being through a series of progressive Pilates mat exercises designed to increase strength, flexibility and an overall sense of fitness. Classes promote awareness of proper body alignment while focusing on the coordination of breath and movement. Modifications are applied to accommodate all levels of abilities.

Books from the Silver Hill Hospital Patient Library
Mosby’s Complementary & Alternative Medicine: A research-based approach, Lyn W. Freeman
Healing Addiction with Yoga, Annalisa Cunningham
The Everything Yoga Book, Cynthia Worby
How to use Herbs, Nutrients & Yoga in Mental Health Care, Richard Brown
The Mindful Way Through Depression: freeing yourself from chronic unhappiness. Guided Meditation Practices with audio CD, Mark Williams and John Kabat-Zinn

– Sue Sherman
Patient Services Liaison

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