Massage4MentalHealth is a campaign launched by Hayley Snishko. Her personal and professional experiences, as well as her passion for mental health inspired this campaign.
The NHS is currently reforming their mental health services which makes now the perfect time to shine a light on how our industry can help support the NHS and those living with mental ill health. I want change the perception of massage therapy and raise the profile to be seen as a credible treatment for those suffering with mental health issues.
1 in 4 people are currently living with a mental health condition. The current mainstream medical care for people living with mental health issues are; talking therapies, CBT & medication.
Massage Therapy however falls outside of mainstream healthcare. Although currently it's widely used in cancer care for pain management and associated depression & anxiety.
Research on massage therapy specifically for those with mental ill health is fairly limited. However, research has been documented on the effects of Massage Therapy by respected researchers such as Moyer, Rounds & Hannum and Brattberg.
Meta-Analysis of Moyer, Rounds & Hannum research concluded:
In another published study by Targ et al published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research, women with breast cancer are at risk for elevated depression, anxiety, and decreased natural killer (NK) cell number. Stress has been linked to increased tumour development by decreasing NK cell activity.
Research results showed that immediate massage therapy effects included a reduction in anxiety, depressed mood and anger. The longer term massage effects included reduced depression and hostility. The conclusion was women with Stage 1 and 2 breast cancer may benefit from thrice-weekly massage therapy for reducing depressed mood, anxiety, and anger. As well as enhancing dopamine, serotonin, and NK cell number and lymphocytes.
According to research conducted by Brattberg published in the European Journal of Pain; the effect of connective tissue massage in the treatment of individuals with fibromyalgia demonstrates that a series of 15 massage treatments with connective tissue massage conveys a pain relieving effect of 37%, reduces depression and the use of analgesics, and positively affects quality of life. It concludes that as long as there is a lack of effective medical treatment for individuals with fibromyalgia, they ought to be offered treatments with connective tissue massage.
So why, despite its long history and proven benefits is massage therapy overlooked as a treatment for mental health?
Hayley says, “I have been a Massage therapist for over 14 years and have thousands of hours of hands-on client experience. Therefore I feel I am perfectly placed to launch this major campaign to support people suffering with mental health.” She added, “I am determined that Massage4MentalHealth will raise the profile of massage, as not only a holistic therapy, but as a compelling treatment to people suffering with anxiety, depression and other mental health issues.”
Hayley said, “The approach and philosophy of a well-trained massage therapist complements conventional psychiatric care and can be an important additional treatment in treating patients. A respectful and collaborative approach to their care may truly help people living with mental illness and drastically improve their quality of life.”
"As Massage Therapists, we do not diagnose mental illness and we don't find out why. What we do is help alleviate the symptoms of mental illness such as helping to reduce stress, anxiety and depression."
"We as an industry care deeply for our clients and for many of us, their mental health is our top priority.
We are here and we are ready to help support the NHS and help those living with mental ill health."
What does some of the available research tell us about the effects of Massage Therapy?