Mental health challenges affect the physical and emotional wellbeing of millions of us – they affect almost one in two adult Australians at some time, and the pandemic has exacerbated poor mental health. Now, a new book explores practical ways to support mental health with herbs and supplements. Mental Wellbeing – The Essential Guide to Using Herbs and Nutritional Supplements is the latest hands-on guidebook written by respected integrative medicine leader Dr Lesley Braun.
Mental wellbeing is dynamic – the Mental Wellbeing Spiral demonstrates that it can improve as well as deteriorate.
Growing need for services
Chatting to a professor of psychiatry, Lesley wasn't surprised to hear that the waiting lists for psychiatric services had ballooned during the pandemic. She learnt that new patients might have to wait up to two years for a professional consultation.
"When it comes to supporting mental wellbeing, there are so many tools in our space that can make a significant impact," says Lesley. "Diet, lifestyle and supplement protocols can be effective and safe. Following the correct protocol for the individual may mean that by the time someone on a long waiting list gets to the top, symptoms may have improved significantly," she says.
Stress levels, sleep problems and burnout
"The book focuses on rising stress levels, sleep problems and burnout; it does not focus on serious depression or the level of challenges that necessitate psychiatric care but feelings that are nevertheless uncomfortable and are very common," explains Lesley.
Applied and evidence-backed
This practical guide includes features and dosages designed to help health professionals understand the therapeutic power of herbs and nutritional supplements in an applied and evidence-backed format.
"The book is for healthcare practitioners," says Lesley, "doctors, pharmacists, naturopaths and more. The idea is that they all see multiple people. When good results are seen, messages get amplified and spread by one of the most effective communication processes around – word of mouth," Lesley explains.
The self-care space
"We know that there is a whole raft of options to try before prescribing certain drugs. A person may consult their GP, but the professional may not have an in-depth knowledge of natural medicines. Pharmacists can recommend lifestyle factors and have shelves full of nutritional and herbal supplements. But they may not know how to pull together an individualised program. Of course, naturopaths know and are important educators. But there is a lot that can be done in the self-care space. For all, though, practical, accurate knowledge and advice are key," Lesley says.
A whole section is dedicated to quantifying stress – so that it is clear whether symptoms are improving or worsening. Introducing the Mental Wellbeing Spiral ...
The Mental Wellbeing Spiral and determining stress levels
After researching published papers, Lesley opted for a validated survey instrument consisting of ten questions that called for a retrospective recall over one month – these questions relate to behavioural and stress responses. This practical and quick tool can be used at home or in the clinic. Responses allow the individual to determine where they might sit on the Mental Wellbeing Spiral, whether protocols are effective or may need manipulation, and whether professional help is required.
The idea and the tools were put before the Blackmores Institute Naturopathic and Pharmacy Advisory Boards. The boards agreed that mental wellbeing is dynamic and that the Spiral made sense; they decided that this little tool might even fill a much-needed gap.
This practical resource is fully referenced, practitioner-focused, and written similarly to Lesley's successful Herbs and Natural Supplements book.
- The theoretical theory of stress and the stress response
- A clinical framework surrounding stress and mental wellbeing
- Easy-to-read descriptive reviews of the clinical evidence and recommendations for practice
- Dietary and lifestyle recommendations should be a standard part of nearly every treatment aiming to achieve better mental wellbeing.
This one-stop ready reckoner can be purchased at the Blackmores Institute website, showcasing what the institute is doing in this space.
Clinicians and retailers in the community love the practicality of the new publication, which helps make selecting forms and correct dosage while being aware of any potential safety issues simple.
Now that this important new feature is complete, Lesley is open to suggestions for another topic or area – let her know!