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Gormfeldt: Horses can replace medications for mental illness

Gormfeldt: Horses can replace medications for mental illness

Mental illness in children and youth in the form of school truancy problems, eating disorders and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is on the rise, both nationally and internationally. ICAR also prescribes prescriptions for children and young people with this type of problem. The long-term effects of the large proportion of children and young people who are treated permanently at an early age are not fully understood. But identity as sick and ill at an early age increases the risk of mental illness later in life.

Studies have shown that people with permanent mental disabilities are approximately twice as likely to die prematurely from cardiovascular disease. The average lifespan in this group is up to 25-30 years lower than in the rest of the population.

Medical treatment does not cure mental illnesses, but aims to reduce symptoms such as anxiety, anxiety and depression, but it often leads to side effects and the development of tolerance with withdrawal symptoms if treatment is stopped. People with personal experience of living with mental illness and their relatives describe that the need for health promotion support efforts is great and is not adequately met in the provision of mental health care.

In the academy for Health and Social Welfare at Halmstad University is forming a research group with a focus on equine-assisted care and support efforts. Care and support interventions involving horses or “equine-assisted interventions” (EAI) involve activities with horses. Equine-assisted therapy or psychotherapy are examples of therapeutic interventions based on a health promotion perspective that takes into account the relationship of the person as a whole to the outside world with a clear focus on personal development.

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The results of a recently published study from Halmstad University show that equine-assisted therapy contributes to children and young people with mental illness achieving health goals that align well with nursing goals in mental health care. Children’s physical, emotional and social development is enhanced by the fact that a stable environment provides an escape from everyday stress, worry and anxiety, while mutual friendship and shared activities with the horse enhance children’s self-esteem and confidence, which enhances children’s physical, emotional and social development. It is then useful in peer relationships at home and school after treatment.

Three current studies A study conducted at Halmstad University showed that activities involving horses in a nurturing and supportive environment reduce depression and negative emotions in people with schizophrenia and psychosis. The horse with its gentle, interested gaze contributes to the experience of mutual friendship among participants, and the community of the group is enhanced by the horse being a daily topic of conversation, while the horse’s large, warm body, specific scent and distinctive sounds such as grunts and hay-chewing or rhythmic hooves-trampling contribute to tranquility. Internal.

Activities with horses challenge personal limitations and breathe life into participants’ dormant abilities. There is another published study that describes the experiences of relatives in engaging in activities with horses for rehabilitative purposes for people with schizophrenia and psychosis, and confirms that horses contribute to creating a context with a common focus for participants, and that interacting with horses increases participants’ self-confidence and that interacting with horses arouses positive feelings.

In the related study of people with schizophrenia and psychosis, activities combined with horses also seemed to stimulate and stimulate physical activity in this group, which is often described as difficult to stimulate.

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An ongoing study on experiences of equine-assisted therapy for people suffering from stress, anxiety, fatigue and depression shows that being with horses contributes to recovery, but the possibilities to receive the intervention are limited, it is provided for a very short period and that the form of therapy is not sufficiently integrated into the continuum of care for return to working life. .

Results from Relatively small studies conducted at Halmstad University show that care and support efforts involving horses have positive health effects on both children and adults with various types of mental illness. In order to safely evaluate the effects of involving horses in care and support efforts with sufficiently large study populations, the treatment format must be integrated as an established intervention into the spectrum of care for children and adults with various types of mental illness.

The division of responsibilities between specialist psychiatry, primary care, municipal support efforts as well as employment services and the Social Insurance Fund with regard to comprehensive health promotion interventions including equine-assisted therapy and rehabilitation for all types of mental illness should be clarified. Ages.

Henrika Gormfeldt

Professor of Nursing at Halmstad University