While we are living in what appears to be a mental health crisis in America (and in other countries) and I believe we are on the cusp of a new awakening in the world. Throughout human history great advances were born out of chaos, strife and persecution. The key to true transformation lies within our willingness to accept a new paradigm, one that is based on the true divine prototype of health.  However, before we can live this truth we must open ourselves to new possibilities that lead to real healing.

Unsettling Numbers

One 2013 study published by JAMA estimates that 1 in 6 Americans (approximately 40 million people) are on psychiatric medications, with antidepressants topping the list followed by anxiety medications and other antipsychotics. Further, over 80 percent of individuals on these medications report being on them long term. Given that these medications are intended for short term use this is a bit alarming. Sadly, antipsychotic medications come with a long list of unpredictable side effects, including a doubling of the risk of suicide, psychosis, depersonalization (feeling disconnected from one’s self), suicidal ideation, and even sudden death.

Age seems to be a factor as well and studies report that their usage rises with age. 1 in 4 adults between 60 and 85 is reported to be on one of these medications, compared to 1 in 10 adults aged 18 to 39. Life is full of challenges and these statistics suggest that our capacity to handle life’s challenges diminishes with age.

While many toot a chemical imbalance in the brain as a need for antipsychotic medications this appears to not be the case and no test to evaluate such a claim exists. Looking deeper, agencies including the World Psychiatric Association and the NIMH (National Institute of Mental Health) admit that the cause for such illness is largely unknown and that how current treatments work remains enigmatic. In light of the fact that a growing body of research reveals these medications don’t perform significantly better than placebos we must look for other modalities when serving individuals with mental health needs. I believe such modalities are emerging today.

A Holistic Approach

The mental health crisis in today’s world is indeed very real. People are suffering and help is needed. While it is not my intention to speak ill of antipsychotic medications, a conversation about today’s mental health crisis must include them. I am of the opinion that these medications are not fully serving humanity and we must look beyond them into new possibilities.

When addressing emotional health we must understand that approximately 90% of our thoughts, actions, and behaviors arise from our subconscious mind. Our subconscious mind, which has been under construction since our conception, is filled with our life experiences and our best attempts to deal with life’s challenges. Every time we have an experience our subconscious mind makes a recording of the experience. Each recording adds to the subconscious “filing system” that then becomes the lens through which we see the world.

Becoming empowered with the tools necessary to support a subconscious mind congruent with love, happiness, and joy requires two components: an honest evaluation of our emotional past, including transgenerational patterns, and a willingness to make a change. Once agreement is reached at these two levels the work can begin.

A true holistic approach to mental health must be multifaceted, offering support for the physical body, the emotional body and the spiritual body. In the coming weeks I will explore many components of holistic mental health in an attempt to usher in a new model, a model that establishes a solid foundation of mental health congruent with happiness and peace. Next week I will dive into the use of amino acids and their role in supporting healthy levels of serotonin, dopamine and GABA. As well, I will explore the power of contemplative prayer and its positive effect on depression and anxiety.