Monthly Archives

March 2019

Therapies that can work for you: Equine Therapy

Equine Assisted Therapy, where a client works with horses can benefit mental health problems like PTSD, anxiety and depression.

Equine Assisted Therapy has been gaining recognition for over 30 years. Equine Assisted Therapy has been gaining recognition for over 30 years. In that time studies have shown how people interacting with horses in a therapeutic situation has been helpful in treating depression, anxiety, addiction issues and other conditions including Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Horses have had a close association with human activity throughout history. Because of that, they are naturally sensitive and intuitive with people and their behaviour.

Equine Assisted Therapy is a therapy where clients work with horses under the guidance of a specially trained therapist. Equine therapy is one of the proven therapies that make a valuable addition to the traditional ‘talk-based’ therapies. Therapy with horses is often non-verbal and activity based.

In recent years Equine Therapy has even been useful in treating trauma and is beneficial in treating members of the defence forces affected by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Equine Therapists say that because PTSD can seriously affect a person’s ability to bond with others. Building a connection with a horse in a therapeutic situation helps them make that connection. Horses also provide a safe, grounded experience for people who have experienced trauma.

Equine Therapy is one of several therapies we use at Retreat South alongside the traditional therapies provided by a team of psychologists. By using a multi-disciplinary team your motivation to make positive changes is increased. It also helps our clients to better engage by experiencing a variety of treatments. That way the team can also respond quickly to our client’s needs.

If you would like to know more about how a varied treatment plan may help you, call us today.

Finding help for work-related mental health

People experiencing work-related mental health issues can take three times longer to return to work. Much longer than people with physical injuries.

In the Australian workforce, mental health conditions are the second most common cause of workers’ compensation.  Musculoskeletal conditions are the most common. Those physical conditions can also impact on mental health.

Now clinicians at Australia’s Monash University have produced world-first guidelines. With these General practitioners (GPs) will be better able to diagnose and manage work-related mental health conditions. More information on the guidelines can be found here.

The guidelines are timely.  Over 7000 Australians make compensation claims for mental health work injuries per year, but the actual number is estimated at 30 times higher – around 225,000 annually – as most people do not seek or receive compensation.

People with mental health conditions can also be at higher risk of additional physical conditions such as high blood pressure. Other conditions include depression, anxiety and dependence on drugs, alcohol and pain medication and other medications. Workplace stress and other negative workplace conditions can impact on physical health.   Excessive stress is associated with a higher risk of developing heart disease and diabetes. Stress also affects behaviour that impacts on our health like smoking, physical inactivity, and overeating. This puts us at risk of conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes.

Our understanding of the wider implications of mental health conditions on our physical health and quality of life is growing. The knowledge is being shared through the medical professions, so diagnosis and treatment improve.

At Retreat South, we consider stress rehabilitation an important part of how we help clients develop healthy habits and to live a balanced life.

If you would like to know more about how Retreat South can help with problems caused by work-related stress please contact us, we can help.

Athletes can score mental health goals

Depression, anxiety and other mental health conditions can affect everybody. People in high-flying professions are no different. Athletes and sports organisations have been dealing with the issue for many years.

Recently the Australian Football League (AFL) announced it will appoint a manager of mental health. The AFL’s decision reinforces the wider public opinion that looking after a person’s mental health is as important as looking after their physical health.

Former footballer Wayne Schwass suffered from depression during his successful AFL career. Now Schwass wants the AFL to pay attention to players’ mental health along with their physical health. He wants to see the league invest in psychologists or psychiatrists. Schwass says there is a need to develop a supportive culture around mental health conditions.

He thinks that for every AFL player who is open about having mental health issues, there is a significantly higher number who do not speak up. This is a similar attitude to the topic of depression and other mental health issues in most sports. Recent research found that as athletes reach the highest places in their professions, the incidence of depression doubled among the top 25 per cent. For elite Australian athletes as many as 45 per cent had mental health issues like depression and anxiety.

While professional and elite athletes are part of a special group, mental health problems can affect anyone at any time.

The life of an athlete starts when they are very young. Studies into mental health show that young people are more reluctant than others to admit they have mental health issues.  Young athletes are even more reluctant than non-athletes to seek help for mental health problems.

When seeking help for mental health problems athletes can learn valuable coping strategies. And one of the most important things to bear in mind is that physical activity and playing a sport is a great benefit to mental health.

How diet can help you towards better mental health

Diet and eating habits and our mental health gets a lot of attention. We know that a healthy diet is beneficial to our physical health. Researchers have been investigating the effects of diet on mental health to find out exactly how.  So far there are no definitive findings that improving our diet benefits our mental health.

But a new study that examines all existing data from trials of diet and mental health does provide some convincing evidence that dietary improvement significantly reduces symptoms of depression, even in people who have not been diagnosed with depression related conditions. That study looked at 16 previous studies examining the ways diet worked on symptoms of depression or anxiety.

The study was headed by the University of Manchester’s Dr Joseph Firth. The study found that all the things that benefit our physical health like weight-loss and fat reduction can also affect symptoms of depression.

This is good news according to Dr Firth as it means healthy eating can make positive changes to mental well-being.

“The similar effects from any type of dietary improvement suggests that highly-specific or specialised diets are unnecessary for the average individual,” he said. “Just making simple changes is equally beneficial for mental health. In particular, eating more nutrient-dense meals which are high in fibre and vegetables, while cutting back on fast-foods and refined sugars appears to be sufficient for avoiding the potentially negative psychological effects of a ‘junk food’ diet.”

At Retreat South diet is an important part of your daily routine. In the process of recovery, healthy eating and physical exercise are as important as psychological therapies. When you talk with us about a treatment program, exercise and diet is an important part of those discussions to help you towards better mental health.