I just finished up a clinical rotation in Mental Health this semester. It’s enough to make you suffer from depression! Or at the very least need a massage for your Mental Health.
Our instructors and books say repeatedly that our jail systems are the biggest warehouse for the mentally ill. There may not be any inpatient beds for somebody suffering with psychosis, but somehow they fit right into our jails. Our mentally ill are being incarcerated for behaviors that are a result of mental illness, schizophrenia, bipolar, depression, post traumatic stress disorder, Alzheimer’s, or addiction. Many of them are homeless. They need treatment, medications, and support.
And probably the most depressing part of Mental Health Clinicals is the adolescent unit. These kids have endured trauma and abuse beyond what I can fathom, and when they leave the treatment facility will return to the people and situations that caused their pain to begin with. It’s downright depressing.
And it’s not just that there is a little bit of mental illness. Mental health is similar to physical health. Sometimes you get sick. Most of the time you’re pretty healthy. And sometimes you have a lifelong illness (physical or mental) that needs lifelong treatment. Most people can identify times in their lives when they were out of balance, overly anxious, stressed, depressed, or just not functioning as well mentally as they know they are capable. And all of us know people in our family, friends, or community who are suffering with more extreme forms of those imbalances. Mental illness touches us all.
I’m grateful for the dedicated Mental Health care professionals that I have met this semester. God Bless Them! We need them so badly. We need funding and policy changes to allow mental health the same importance and voice that physical problems like cancer get. We need more health care providers to get excited about helping people with mental health problems, to serve health care in that capacity.
I actually feel guilty because I prefer to work with people with their guts falling out than with mental health problems, because at least if your guts are falling out I can stuff ’em back inside and slap a bandage on it. In mental health, the guts are falling out, and people are bleeding out, but you can’t stuff it back in. You can’t see it. It’s not so easy. I guess I feel disempowered by mental illness. There is no immediate fix, no bandage, just a winding road of possibilities and not enough resources for long term support.
But at the same time, I deal with mental illness/health all the time in a positive way, on the massage table. And it has been a very empowering relationship. People come to us in pain, grieving loss, with anxiety and depression, and needing help with dealing with the stress of everyday life on the planet. We are honored every day that our community chooses to come to us for stress relief.
According to University of Maryland, massage makes us feel better by the “release of endorphins (natural painkillers and mood elevators),” and reducing the levels of stress hormones (cortisol). Endorphins are one of the main neurotransmitters involved in depression and bipolar.
So, looking at the mental health problems our country is faced with right now may be devastatingly depressing, but thank goodness there is massage therapy for those times when we are in pain, grieving loss, having anxiety and depression, and needing help with dealing with the stress of everyday life on the planet. I guess massage is the bandage that I feel empowered by when dealing with the guts of every day mental health/illness. I’m grateful to have it in my life.
If this post was so stressful that you now need a massage, call 479-251-7422 to schedule an appointment. Or you could just come get a massage because you know you need it. Or because we haven’t seen you in forever. Please pop in to I.M. Spa to see us when you are downtown for the Farmer’s Market! If for no other reason than that it is good for OUR mental health to see you!
Wendy Finn is the mother of 4 boys, owner of I.M. Spa, a Raw Food Enthusiast and educator, a world traveler in pursuit of superior massage education, a Master Massage Therapist of 20 plus years, a gardener, and a nursing student. She’s passionate about touching people and sharing health. Schedule an appointment for a massage 479-251-7422