Let’s Talk: Osteopathy and Mental Illness

Let’s Talk: Osteopathy and Mental Illness

  February 12th is Bell Canada’s “Let’s Talk Day,” a day to raise awareness about mental health in Canada and to raise funds for mental health programs and community initiatives across the country. Canadian Olympic athlete Clara Hughes is the frontwoman for this campaign, which has been a blessing to many who suffer from anxiety, depression and various forms of mental illness.   The Canadian Mental Health Association defines mental health as “not only the avoidance of serious mental illness. Your mental health is affected by numerous factors from your daily life, including the stress of balancing work with your health and relationships.”   The Canadian Psychology Association has named February Psychology month as well, “to generate grassroots activities that will raise Canadians’ awareness of the role psychology plays in their lives and in their communities.”   This time of year also contributes to the increase in patients suffering from seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a type of depression that affects many Canadians during the long Winter months. Bodyandhealth.canada.com reports that for most people it tends to be worse in the fall or winter, making it an extreme form of the “winter blahs.” Some people, however, experience symptoms in the late spring or early summer. It is estimated that about 2 or 3 out of every 100 people are affected by SAD. About 15 out of every 100 people have less severe symptoms of SAD called the “winter blues.” Some believe that SAD may be related to the levels of melatonin in the body, a hormone secreted by the pineal gland.   All of this means that February is the perfect time to discuss our Osteopath of the month, A.G. Hildreth, who was a leading contributor to the development in dealing with mental illness through Osteopathic manual approaches. In addition, the Dr. Andrew Taylor Still quote chosen this month describes his views on the interconnections between mind, body and spirit.   Mental illness have always been seen as a taboo subject. We can talk about our friends or families physical ailments, but when it comes to listening to people who are suffering from crippling emotional and mental issues many people struggle to understand, or feel like it’s “just a phase.” Since we know that the body is a dynamic unit of function and that the structure and function are intimately connected it would make sense that physical ailments lead to mental concerns and vice versa. Dr. Still wrote in The Philosophy of Osteopathy, “There is one indispensable item to control this active body, or machine, and that is mind. With that added the whole machinery then works as man.” It would be a logical thought (fourth principle of osteopathy) that the application of Osteopathic...

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