Integrating Healthy Minds with Healthy Bodies by Jean Manahan

Over the past few weeks, it seems that mental health issues have never been out of the news. There was the OECD report highlighting our high teen suicide rate in Ireland, and the growing complaints about the problems faced by suicidal people trying to access emergency intervention in our hospital emergency departments.

Mental health is regularly in the news now, and we are all talking about it more. Thanks to those people who have made their own stories public, and to the advocates for better mental health services, it is now a constant topic for discussion in the media.

Thanks to the widening discussion about the importance of our mental health alongside our physical health, there is also a welcome recognition that resources for mental health services need to be properly ring fenced, to help improve the underdeveloped community-based services people face every day. Stories of people with suicidal tendencies being left in Accident and Emergency departments, or waiting unacceptably long times to be seen by a professional, are putting political pressure on political parties to find more resources for the mental health services here.

Our health is not just about a healthy body; a healthy mind is also essential. We cannot separate the mind from the body when considering our overall health.


Intervening skilfully

While the current openness in talking about mental health is positive, intervening skilfully when necessary is just as important. The state of our minds and our emotions contribute hugely to either negative or positive health including physical manifestations in our bodies. Therefore, skilled professionals who can work in depth across a range of mental and emotional issues are of paramount importance in building a healthy society.

So when someone goes to the GP with a pain, a good doctor asking the right questions and watching carefully can often discover the mental health problem underlying that physical pain. Family doctors can expect about one patient in seven to be depressed, according to the WHO. This can be one of the most challenging problems faced by family doctors in Ireland, due to the lack of a well-funded mental health service for public patients in particular.


A Central Role

Psychotherapy must play a central role within the health services. A move from a hospital-centric approach to a more community-based health service is a priority of the current Minister, Simon Harris TD. It will take time, but the discussion around a reformed health service, with more integrated care, must include the role of psychotherapy within the community-based mental health services.

For this reason the role of Psychotherapy in a healthy Ireland, which is the theme of the ICP Conference in October, is particularly timely.

Funded by Nessa Childers MEP in partnership with The Irish Council for Psychotherapy (ICP) the conference will be of interest to a national audience working in and supporting health across a range of services in Ireland.

The conference will be held on the 18th October 2017 in Dublin. Registration will open in early September.

Click HERE to find out more.


Jean Manahan is the CEO of the Irish Council for Psychotherapy


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