Home Mental Health & Well-Being The Evolution of Healthcare: Embracing Change and Challenging the Status Quo

The Evolution of Healthcare: Embracing Change and Challenging the Status Quo

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I was born with an 80% disability, but it never bothered me. From a young age, I had an innate need to accept the status quo. This acceptance kept me balanced, in harmony with myself, and shielded from the negatives of the outside world. I found that nobody criticised me if I just accepted everything peacefully.

Now, writing this series of blogs on why the healthcare status quo should be abolished feels strange. Can peace and harmony coexist within me as I advocate for a complete overhaul of therapy provision and substantial reform in medical research? Will medical researchers use their investigative, neutral, and logical minds to consider my upheaval proposals that might benefit all stakeholders? Will my radical suggestions for changing government health policy save billions of pounds while also relieving suffering? Or will I face backlash for challenging the status quo, risking the loss of my own peace?

Welcome to a series that explores the problems and solutions within the overlapping realms of psychological and physical healthcare provision, research, and policymaking.

How did we get here? The journey to modern healthcare

The Witches Act

Shockingly, The Witches Act of 1735 was only repealed in Great Britain in 1951. Before that, anyone claiming magical powers could face fines or imprisonment. Perhaps this is why, before 1951, few interventions alternative to the mainstream were developed. Since then, therapeutic variety has exploded in the UK and much of the world.

Thankfully, we are no longer at risk of being called witches. However, the “Big Bang” of therapies is still young and expanding into the health universe. Lessons are evolving, and questions need answers.

Why have therapies multiplied in some countries, but not others?

About 120 countries, including most of Europe, operate under a type of “Napoleonic Code“, where most things are illegal unless explicitly made legal by law. This inhibits the spread of new ideas and therapies. Conversely, in the UK and other countries with common law systems, everything is legal unless a law makes it illegal. This allows for the development of new therapies, some of which gain widespread acceptance and reduce suffering.

Introducing CAM and CHAMP

When I studied Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) in the 1990s, few therapies were available. Now, there are hundreds, possibly thousands. CAM aims to support overall health, including physical well-being. The proliferation of new therapies targeting mental health has led to the creation of a new term: Complementary, Holistic, and Alternative Medicine for Psychology (CHAMP).

In this series, I will discuss about 50 CHAMP therapies as a starting point to show how they can be incorporated into a new world order for healthcare.

A Glimpse into CHAMP therapies

Some of the most well-known and influential therapies include:

  • Acupuncture. An ancient Chinese practice involving the insertion of fine needles into specific points on the body to alleviate pain and promote healing.
  • Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT). A widely used psychological treatment that helps individuals change negative thought patterns and behaviours.
  • Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR). A programme that uses mindfulness meditation to reduce stress and improve overall well-being.
  • Hypnotherapy. The use of hypnosis to treat various psychological and physical conditions.
  • Art therapy. A form of psychotherapy that uses art-making as a medium for expression and healing.
  • Yoga therapy. The use of yoga practices to address physical, mental, and emotional issues.
  • Animal-assisted therapy. Incorporating animals into the therapeutic process to enhance emotional and physical health.

These examples are just a snapshot of the vast array of therapies now available. This explosion of options provides a wealth of possibilities for individuals seeking help, but it also raises significant questions about the best paths to take.

The challenge of choice in healthcare

With so many therapies available, it can be overwhelming for patients to decide which one to pursue. The same challenge applies to doctors, therapists, teachers, researchers, and policymakers. Here are the key questions each stakeholder faces:

  • Doctors. With so many patients using a variety of therapies, how can doctors maintain oversight and ensure effective treatment?
  • Patients. How can millions of patients choose the best therapy for their specific problem amidst thousands of options?
  • Therapists. How can therapists decide which therapies to study and offer to help the most patients?
  • Teachers. How do educators select which therapies to teach to future practitioners for optimal outcomes?
  • Researchers. How can researchers determine which therapies to investigate to relieve the most suffering and secure funding?
  • Policymakers. With a myriad of therapies available, how can policymakers choose the best interventions to improve public health and save billions of pounds?

And perhaps the most pressing question is: Is there one perfect therapy for each specific symptom and condition?

Moving Forward

As we navigate this complex landscape of healthcare options, it is essential to continue exploring and evaluating these therapies. By doing so, we can move towards a more inclusive and effective healthcare system that addresses the needs of all individuals. Stay tuned as we delve deeper into the world of CAM and CHAMP, seeking answers and solutions that could revolutionise our approach to health and well-being.

Allan J. Sweeney was awarded an honorary doctorate in philosophy in alternative medicine by the Indian Board of Alternative Medicine in 2000.

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