Reprinted from the "Treatments: What Works?" issue of Visions Journal, 2015 15 (4), p. 4
This issue was voted on by Visions readers as our Recovery subtheme. It was an incredibly challenging one to produce, but now that it’s here I think it will be read and referenced heavily. A major reason this topic area is so tricky, I think, is that people’s views about treatments—part of what we need to get and feel better—are quite deeply held. Whether it’s our positive or negative assumptions about electroconvulsive therapy or certain vitamins, our beliefs are influenced strongly by our culture and upbringing, our experiences, and our training.
On the cover of Visions, you’ll see the group behind this magazine: HeretoHelp. Our tagline is “Mental health and substance use information you can trust.” For too long, HeretoHelp has been pretty silent about many treatments beyond medications and approaches like cognitive-behavioural therapy. This issue is perhaps our first attempt, by engaging some researchers and clinicians in the field we respect, to get more in depth at what this buzzword “evidence-based” really means. After all, we know there are whole host of treatments that work and that people use and like. And what people use, what they like, and what works aren’t always the same thing.
I welcome letters to the editor—and I expect I’ll see some for this issue! Individuals and industries are very passionate about sharing with others what works for them or in their field. We did put a concerted callout for more personal experiences, but we were specifically looking for people who could share the benefits and drawbacks of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) and mainstream treatments they tried. We found few people who were willing to share both.
As in all issues of Visions, the views here are not meant to replace professional advice. You should never stop taking medications, for example, without first talking to your doctor. Also, talk to your doctor and pharmacist before trying new treatments to make sure there are no interactions. And do feel free to take all or part of this issue to your health care provider to have a discussion about treatment
This is not an issue devoted to CAM, though you’ll find one article and parts of several others that explore CAM. I also don’t pretend to depict a balanced view in this issue, as you’ll see no articles from CAM providers. Good-news stories about CAM are easy to find. What you won’t find as easily is more of an objective and plainer-language look at the evidence behind CAM as treatment. Even if this Visions doesn’t provide a space for every perspective, I hope you find the ones that are here helpful in making more informed choices.
About the author
Sarah is Visions Editor and Director of Mental Health Promotion at the Canadian Mental Health Association’s BC Division