Almost half of all Australian adults will face mental health challenges during their lives - 1 in 5 will experience this each year.1 Both government and peak mental health bodies acknowledge an imperative to shift how we engage with mental health, and that Australians urgently require a system that acts early to help people before mental health conditions worsen.2
Motivated by the overwhelming issues around mental health - alongside the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr Lesley Braun has developed a model of care to help address this issue. Here, Lesley discusses how she came to develop this new support model - The Mental Wellbeing (MWB) Spiral.
Can you briefly explain The Mental Wellbeing spiral?
The MWB spiral introduces the concept that as individuals, our physical and emotional state changes day by day and year by year. Ideally, by adopting positive changes to diet, lifestyle, mindset and including, where relevant, safe and effective herbal medicines and nutritional supplements, we can reduce our risk of spinning down the spiral and instead hold steady and start moving upwards towards peak performance. So often government agencies focus on the bottom of the spiral - severe depression and other serious conditions - however a vast majority of people don’t experience this degree of debilitation and instead deal with the impact of everyday issues such as chronic stress, sleep problems, memory and focus, possibly burn out – the middle part of the spiral - yet there is far less focus on supporting these people.
What motivated the development of The Mental Wellbeing spiral?
The COVID-19 environment and realising that it brought a wave of mental health issues. Whilst this sometimes showed up as severe depression, this is not always the case, yet the national discourse was often only about serious disease. Personally, I found many friends and colleagues were experiencing far higher levels of stress and suffering with sleep problems, trouble with mental focus and sometimes symptoms related to burnout, yet there was little public discussion about these very real issues. Also, practitioners have been seeing many more patients with these issues but haven’t had time to navigate through the science to identify the best treatment options.
Does the application of the spiral apply to all stages of the lifespan (e.g. children, adolescents, adults, elderly) or is the primary focus adult mental health wellbeing?
The MWB spiral applies to all age groups.
Navigating modern life is a challenge – particularly on the back of the changing landscape of our lives post Covid-19. How can The Mental Wellbeing spiral be best utilised by practitioners wanting to understand the stage of a patient’s mental health? How can it help support a patient’s journey to mental health wellness?
The MWB spiral is a tool to explain to patients that they are not stuck in one position, the aim is to help them move up the spiral - so it sets a positive goal. However, there is no silver bullet which gets you up the top without some work – there are tools such as diet/lifestyle/supplements and the care of a trained practitioner which will make a significant difference.
Learn more about the Mental Wellbeing Spiral and practical treatment options for mental health conditions in Dr Lesley Braun's new book Mental Wellbeing - The Essential Guide to Using Herbs and Nutritional Supplements.