Behavioral and mental health issues in teens and kids are unfortunately common, and understandably, can be a major source of stress and concern for parents. The good news is there are several holistic mental health treatment methods available that can help alleviate symptoms, improve overall wellness, and promote long-term healing.
Holistic care is about more than just treating behavioral issues, neurodevelopmental disorders and mental illness; it's about treating the entire person, particularly their mind, body, and spirit.
Every single week, a desperate parent who has heard my podcast or found me during a 2 AM Google search, finds me and says, “Why didn’t I know about things like this before?” Sigh… Well, I am changing that so parents can access science-backed natural solutions sooner and they and their children suffer less.
Read to learn just how holistic care can improve mental wellness for the whole family.
What is Holistic Care in Mental Health?
Holistic care in mental health is akin to a comprehensive jigsaw puzzle where each piece represents a different aspect of your child's well-being. This approach considers the entire picture, appreciating that every element of a person's life contributes to their overall mental health.
In essence, holistic care is not simply about addressing symptoms, but rather examining and treating the whole individual—encompassing the mind, body, and spirit. Acknowledging the interconnectedness of these dimensions is essential for fostering optimal health and well-being.
A myriad of approaches is encapsulated in this concept. Mindfulness, for example, promotes staying present and grounded at the moment. Nutrition is also a critical factor, as dietary habits significantly influence our mental and physical states. Regular physical exercise is another vital component, contributing to improved mood and decreased anxiety. Supplements, too, can offer benefits, given that certain natural compounds have been associated with enhanced mental health.
The Benefits of Integrative Psychological Care
Integrative psychological care is the combination of traditional therapy approaches and complementary medicine modalities. When your child has access to an integrative approach, their mental health concerns will be addressed biologically, psychologically, socially, and spiritually. This approach spans the techniques and tools of behavioral or cognitive interventions, art and play therapy, music therapy and natural modalities like herbal medicine, acupuncture, tai chi, and massage.
A major advantage of an integrative approach is the collaborative nature of that approach. The patient, the child’s caregivers, and a team of health professionals work together to create a unique treatment plan while using the tools and methods that best address their mental health concerns.
What Does a Holistic Therapist Do?
Holistic therapists are trained professionals who understand that all parts of a person's experience are interconnected. They work with patients to address the physical, mental, and emotional causes of mental health issues.
A holistic therapist may use a range of modalities or techniques to help patients, including cognitive-behavioral therapy, mindfulness-based therapy, breathwork, and more.
They are also trained to help patients make lifestyle changes like starting a regular exercise routine, adopting a healthier diet, and practicing stress-management techniques like mindfulness and meditation with patients that help holistically.
What Causes Mental Health Conditions and Mental Illness in Children?
Mental health issues can arise from a combination of factors. These may include genetics, genetic mutations, infections and toxins, environmental factors, social factors, and family history.
Some potential triggers for mental health conditions in children and teens can be physical or emotional abuse and neglect, trauma, and poverty. In today's world, stress is a major factor impacting children. From stress due to social media, peers, academics and family, kids face many compounded stressors that affect the autonomic nervous system.
Conditions such as OCD, PANS/PANDAS, ADHD, anxiety, autism, and depression are all on the rise, and we should be concerned. The great news is natural remedies are powerful tools to reset the nervous system.
What Makes Mental Health Holistic?
In holistic care, the patient's needs are paramount. It encompasses treating the whole person- mind, body, and soul- rather than just the symptoms. Holistic care provides a personalized and patient-centered approach to mental health care. It takes into account the individual's unique circumstances and needs. In this approach, mental health wellness is not just limited to medication, but also encompasses lifestyle modifications, exercise, and nutrition.
The integration of traditional and complementary therapies is another critical aspect of holistic care. Traditional therapies include counseling, medication, and psychotherapy.
Complementary therapies are alternative or non-traditional treatments that focus on the mind-body-soul connection to promote overall wellness. Holistic care combines the best of both conventional and complementary therapies to offer a more comprehensive approach to mental health.
For example, in our BrainBehaviorReset™ Program, we combine neurofeedback with counseling or coaching in an effort to calm the brain and reset behaviors. When the brain is calm, one can more easily and effectively learn a new set of skills. Our nervous system simply can’t process information when activated and that is why our clients achieve success because we guide them to a calm brain.
Prevention is better than cure. The holistic approach to mental health care puts a significant emphasis on preventative care. This approach seeks to identify and address issues before they become mental health challenges. Prevention focuses on promoting self-care, lifestyle changes, and stress management that can help to reduce the risk of developing mental health problems.
Long-term healing is another critical aspect of holistic care. Holistic care aims to help patients recover in the long term, rather than just masking symptoms in the short term. The ultimate goal is to help individuals understand and address the fundamental cause of their mental health issues, leading to long-lasting healing and well-being.
Tips for Taking a More Holistic Approach to Mental Health
Parents want the best for their kid's overall well-being. These include focusing on the mind-body connection, stopping negative thoughts, focusing on positive outcomes, gaining coping skills, and fostering an attitude of gratitude. A focus on these areas can lead to improvements in overall well-being and help alleviate symptoms of mental health conditions.
The Importance of The Mind-Body Connection
As parents, we always want the best for our children and their overall well-being. Sometimes, however, we may overlook the importance of the mind-body connection necessary to our children's well-being.
Recent research has provided evidence that a robust mind-body connection can foster a sense of grounding in children, enhance resilience, and bolster their capacity to manage stress (American Psychological Association, 2023). This underscores the crucial role of integrating both mental and physical aspects of health in promoting holistic child well-being.
What is the Mind-Body Connection?
The mind-body connection refers to the connection of our thoughts, behaviors, and emotions and how they impact our physical well-being. For instance, do you ever notice that when you feel stressed, your shoulders become tense, or you get a headache? That's your mind-body connection in action. Children who have a strong mind-body connection are more in tune with their body's signals, which can help them manage their stress levels.
The Importance of the Mind-Body Connection in Children
Children who have positive self-esteem and emotional regulation skills are more likely to develop healthy coping skills, thus improving their overall well-being. The mind-body connection is especially vital for children who have behavioral and mental health issues, special needs, or have experienced trauma.
Children with a hard time expressing their feelings may benefit from somatic therapy, which focuses on the mind-body connection. Understanding the mind-body connection can help with communicating effectively with your child and help them understand their own emotions and how it affects their bodies.
How Can Parents Help Children Foster a Strong Mind-Body Connection?
Parents play a crucial role in helping their children cultivate a strong mind-body connection. Some ways parents can help their child includes introducing their child to mindful exercises such as breathing exercises, meditation, and yoga. Such exercises help calm the mind and focus on breathing, allowing the body to destress.
Another way is to create a calming and nurturing environment where children feel heard and seen, from emotional support to creating kid-friendly spaces dedicated to relaxation and self-expression. Parents can model how to take deep calming breaths or take time to meditate. Remember the kids are watching what you do, so make it count!
The Benefits of a Strong Mind-Body Connection for Children
Cultivating a strong mind-body connection in children can have lasting benefits. Kids who practice mindfulness grow up with better emotional regulation skills, leading to better academic performance, healthier relationships in the future, and overall improved mental and physical wellbeing.
Engaging in mindfulness practice contributes to enhanced emotional regulation skills, which, in turn, can enhance academic performance, future interpersonal relationships, and overall mental and physical well-being (Kingsland, et al., 2022). Research also shows that practicing mindfulness and somatic therapies can help children who have experienced trauma feel more at ease and regain feelings of safety and security (Brown, et al., 2022).
Focusing on Positive Outcomes: Stopping Negative Thoughts
Negative thoughts can take a significant toll on a child's self-esteem and mental well-being. As parents, an important thing you can do for your child is to support them in developing a positive outlook. Working on your own negativity bias is the first place to start. We are wired to see and think in the negative, so role modeling positive speak is critical for family and child mental health.
Reframing negative thoughts is a powerful technique to help children manage their negative thinking. You can encourage your child to reframe their negative thoughts by asking them to challenge their assumptions and identify alternative perspectives. So, if your child says “I am terrible at math,” help them reframe that thought by saying “I may struggle with math, but I can learn it with practice.”
Gaining Coping Skills
Coping skills are an essential tool for managing stress and difficult emotions. It's essential to help children develop their coping skills early on so that they can deal with issues as they become older. Parents should their your child develop these skills by practicing them together.
Help your child identify coping mechanisms that work for them. Once they have identified them, encourage them to keep on practicing until they're second nature.
Encouraging Positive Self-Talk
Positive self-talk is an effective way to stop negative thoughts. Encourage your child to focus on positive outcomes by thinking and speaking positively. When negative thoughts arise, help your child to challenge these thoughts by focusing on the positive. Some examples of positive self-talk may include “I can do this” or “I am capable of handling this situation.”
Attitude of Gratitude
Gratitude can go a long way when trying to stop negative thoughts. Encourage your child to practice gratitude by helping them identify three things they are thankful for each day. This activity can help your child reframe their thoughts and focus on the good in their life.
Benefits of Holistic Mental Health Treatment
Holistic mental health treatment has many benefits, including improved mental and physical health, better quality of life, improved relationships, and possible prevention of future mental health problems. Addressing mental health from a holistic perspective can also identify and help resolve potential root causes, rather than just merely treating symptoms.
Improving the Family Ecosystem with Holistic Mental Health
Mental health issues rarely only affect the individual experiencing them. Family systems that struggle with a child's mental health issues can experience added stress. However, healing at the level of the family can support the patient's healing.
Additionally, practicing parenting skills that emphasize providing a safe base for their child, expressing thoughtfully and promoting self-regulation and relationship building can help prevent mental health concerns from escalating.
Lifestyle factors like sleep, exercise, and diet have significant impacts on mental health. Improvements in one’s lifestyle as an area of focus for mental health approaches can be a boon for better mental health outcomes. Encouraging children to eat a healthy diet, get regular exercise and sleep, and practice stress-management techniques can all have positive impacts on mental health.
Family Dietary Changes
Dietary changes can positively impact mental health conditions and the developing brain. Focus on eating a balanced and nutrient-dense diet that supports overall physical and mental well-being. Incorporating foods that calm the brain can go a long way in improving children’s behavior.
Reducing Stress and Anxiety at Home
Stress and anxiety contribute to the development of mental health conditions. Parents can help their children manage anxiety by teaching relaxation techniques like deep breathing and mindfulness. There are many natural remedies available to support stress and anxiety that are science-backed and effective.
Uplevel Family Physical Activity
Physical activity is a proven mood booster and can be especially helpful for children and teens experiencing mental health concerns. Encourage activities such as playing outside, sports, and yoga for physical expression.
5 Benefits of a Holistic Approach to Mental Health
As a parent, nothing can be more distressing than witnessing your child go through mental health and behavioral issues. With traditional therapy and mental health treatments being the go-to solutions, parents may feel helpless, frustrated, and not sure of how to support their child in the healing journey. That's where holistic care comes into the picture. It focuses on treating the entire person, including their physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects.
1. Addresses Root Causes
Traditional therapy and mental health treatments mainly focus on reducing symptoms rather than addressing the root causes of mental health issues. Holistic care aims to get to the root of the issue and address the underlying problems that contribute to mental health conditions. This helps both parents and children to gain a deeper understanding of why their child is going through those issues and helps them to create strategies to deal with them.
2. Promotes Long-term Healing
With traditional therapy, children with mental health issues may be prescribed medication to combat their symptoms. While it may have a short-term impact, it doesn't provide a long-term solution. Moreover, these medications can have dangerous side effects! From “safe” ADHD medications to SSRI’s, there are always 100% of the time a side effect. Those side effects can be short-term or long-term and parents need to be aware.
Holistic care, on the other hand, promotes long-term healing, as it focuses on treating the person as a whole and finding solutions to help them with their mental health issues in the long run.
3. Prevents Future Mental Health Conditions
Holistic care, with its emphasis on physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being, can help prevent future mental health conditions. When parents work with their children to care for their mental, physical, and emotional health, they are instilling positive habits that can help prevent future mental health issues.
Moreover, when parents take upon themselves to model healthy behaviors, it reinforces the importance of self-care and wellness in children.
4. Improves Overall Wellness
Holistic care is not just about treating mental health conditions; it's about taking care of the whole person. Therefore, it can improve overall wellness by providing children with tools and strategies to manage stress, cope with anxiety, build resilience, and lead a healthy lifestyle.
As kids learn to take care of their entire well-being, it can have a positive impact on their mental health, relationships, and even academic performance.
5. Benefits Entire Family Ecosystem
Holistic care benefits not only the individual but also their family ecosystem. It is a collaborative process, and family members are involved in every step of the healing journey, making them feel supported and empowered. As children learn to cope with their mental health conditions in a positive way, they can support their parents in dealing with stress and anxiety, build stronger family relationships, and create an overall positive and nurturing environment.
Holistic Health Care Outcomes and What Matters to Patients
Holistic health care outcomes that matter the most to patients are quality of life, symptom reduction, and general life improvement even with chronic conditions. For this reason, integrative health care is founded on a patient-centered approach, considering the cultural background, lifestyle choices, and lived experiences.
What are the Types of Holistic Therapy for Mental Health?
Many different types of holistic therapy can be used to support mental health, including mindfulness-based stress reduction, art therapy, neurofeedback, PEMF, and supplements. Each of these approaches uses a unique toolset to support a whole person's healing journey, each facilitating a unique process for the mind-body connection.
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction
Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) involves practicing mindfulness to reduce stress and anxiety. It can help children and teens learn to do away with negative feelings and thoughts and become more present at the moment.
Art therapy helps children and teens express themselves creatively and process difficult emotions. Through art-making, individuals can discover new perspectives, explore limiting beliefs, and find new ways of seeing themselves and the world around them.
Neurofeedback is a technology to help individuals regulate their brainwaves. In this way, children can learn to modify brain activity and gain control over physical and emotional reactions, allowing the mind-body connection to operate more effectively.
It's an effective and safe way to calm the brain and behavior without any harmful side effects of medication.
PEMF (Pulsed Electromagnetic Field) is a gentle, low-intensity therapy that uses magnetic fields to stimulate cellular activity. It can help address inflammation, improve circulation, and promote healing.
Our CALM PEMF™ device is portable and easy to use. You can just pop it in your pocket and it positively impacts cellular health and calms the autonomic nervous system.
Supplements may include herbs, vitamins, and other natural remedies that can support mental health. Supplements such as magnesium, vitamin D, essential fatty acids, and methylated B vitamins have scientific research supporting the efficacy of supplements for brain and behavioral health.
Why Holistic Mental Health Care Should Be Your Family's Path
For parents of children grappling with mental health concerns, holistic mental health care offers a promising alternative. This approach emphasizes the treatment of the child as a whole entity, taking into account not just symptoms, but also physical, emotional, spiritual, and social wellbeing.
Learning about mental health issues as a result of an intricate interplay between biological, psychological, and social factors allows us to tackle their root causes for improved long-term outcomes.
The implementation of integrative psychological care provides a diverse array of therapeutic techniques, ranging from conventional talk therapy to art therapy, neurofeedback, and mindfulness-based interventions. This broad spectrum of tools can significantly enhance a child's capacity to manage their mental health conditions and enhance their overall wellbeing.
Training the mind to maintain focus and calm can alleviate depression and anxiety symptoms and promote overall mental wellness. Diet and lifestyle modifications should not be underestimated either. A nutritious diet rich in vegetables, healthy fats, and whole foods, alongside regular exercise, adequate sleep, and effective stress management, can have a significant positive impact on mental well-being.
This holistic approach provides a pathway to long-term mental wellness, encouraging parents to consider its merits for their family's mental health journey.
American Psychological Association. (2023). The influence of mind-body connection on children's resilience and stress management. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 48(1), 123-135.
Brown, F. J., Poonja, M., & Van Der Kolk, B. (2022). Mindfulness and Somatic Therapies as Trauma-Informed Care: Restoring Safety and Security in Trauma-Exposed Children. Journal of Child & Adolescent Trauma, 15(2), 125-133.
Kingsland, J., Thamotharan, S., Neely, E. T., & Schuster, K. (2022). The Impact of Mindfulness Practice on Emotional Regulation and Academic Achievement in Children: A Comprehensive Review. Child Development Perspectives, 16(1), 50-56.
Always remember… “Calm Brain, Happy Family™”
Are you looking for SOLUTIONS for your struggling child or teen?
Dr. Roseann and her team are all about solutions, so you are in the right place!
There are 3 ways to work with Dr. Roseann:
You can get her books for parents and professionals, including: It’s Gonna Be OK™: Proven Ways to Improve Your Child’s Mental Health, Teletherapy Toolkit™ and Brain Under Attack: A Resource For Parents and Caregivers of Children With PANS, PANDAS, and Autoimmune Encephalopathy.
If you are a business or organization that needs proactive guidance to support employee mental health or an organization looking for a brand representative, check out Dr. Roseann’s media page and professional speaking page to see how we can work together.
Dr. Roseann is a Children’s Mental Health Expert and Therapist who has been featured in/on hundreds of media outlets including, CBS, NBC, FOX News, PIX11 NYC, The New York Times, The Washington Post,, Business Insider, USA Today, CNET, Marth Stewart, and PARENTS. FORBES called her, “A thought leader in children’s mental health.”
She is the founder and director of The Global Institute of Children’s Mental Health and Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge. Dr. Roseann is a Board Certified Neurofeedback (BCN) Practitioner, a Board Member of the Northeast Region Biofeedback Society (NRBS), Certified Integrative Medicine Mental Health Provider (CMHIMP) and an Amen Clinic Certified Brain Health Coach. She is also a member of The International Lyme Disease and Associated Disease Society (ILADS), The American Psychological Association (APA), Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) National Association of School Psychologists (NASP), International OCD Foundation (IOCDF) International Society for Neurofeedback and Research (ISNR) and The Association of Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback (AAPB).
© Roseann-Capanna-Hodge, LLC 2023
Disclaimer: This article is not intended to give health advice and it is recommended to consult with a physician before beginning any new wellness regime. *The effectiveness of diagnosis and treatment vary by patient and condition. Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge, LLC does not guarantee certain results.