Following July’s launch of the Massage4MentalHealth campaign by Hayley Snishko, the multi award winning mobile therapist and current holder of the BABTAC Mobile Therapist of the Year 2022, here is an update on the progress.
Soon after the campaign launch, a UCL study by Professor Joanna Moncrieff and Dr Mark Horowitz (both UCL Psychiatry) was released in the media reporting on their new research showing no clear evidence that serotonin levels or serotonin activity are responsible for depression. Therefore bringing into question the evidence for prescribing anti-depressants. This gained many column inches across national media and was exactly aligned to the basis of Massage4MentalHealth.
As a sufferer of depression and and anxiety following a severe childhood trauma, Hayley is acutely aware of how mental health issues arise and subsequently how mental health can be treated. Hayley said, “Massage4MentalHealth is an initiative that aims to raise awareness of the benefits and results that massage therapy has on mental health. I am trying to offer a credible alternative to the nearly 1 in 4 sufferers of mental health in the UK and help alleviate the demand on the NHS, with depression responsible for nearly 300 trips to A&E in England every day!”
As a subject that is close to Hayley’s heart due to her own personal and professional experiences, Hayley has now progressed this campaign and has already featured on regional BBC radio shows, gained professional press coverage for her campaign.
Background to the Campaign
Massage being used as a tool for healing is rooted in ancient history. Civilisations from the East and West found massage could help heal injuries, relieve pain, and prevent illnesses. Even the great Julius Caesar was said to have massages everyday to ease nerve pain. Home Sanctuary - www.home-sanctuary.com As humans, we seek touch when we’re in pain. And more people are seeking complementary and integrative therapies to treat symptoms of depression and anxiety. Hayley has also noted that post-pandemic, there's been a large increase in men seeking massage therapy as a tool to boost their mental health.
So why, despite its long history and proven benefits is massage therapy overlooked as a treatment for mental health?
Hayley’s aim is to change the perception of massage therapy and raise the profile to be seen as a credible treatment for those suffering with 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.”
There are several scientific research studies that looks into the effectiveness of massage therapy for treating mental health issues like anxiety and depression. Plus other health issues like fibromyalgia and even breast cancer. The effects of massage therapy on anxiety and depression have been documented by respected researchers including Moyer, Rounds and Hannum. The general conclusions of a Meta-Analysis of their combined research shows that statistically massage therapy is clinically effective in the treatment of mental health.
Meta-Analysis Results concluded:
- Participants in studies who received a single massage treatment were more likely to experience a reduction in state anxiety, blood pressure and heart rate, than participants in the comparison groups.
- Significant reduction in trait anxiety and depression were achieved in those participants who received a course of massage treatments.
- This despite cortisol levels (linked with reducing stress), immediate assessment of pain, and negative mood showing no statistical improvements.
- Considered together, these results indicate that massage therapy may have an effect similar to that of psychotherapy.
According to research 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.
Hayley says, “This is such an important year for me as the Mobile Therapist of the Year and I truly want to drive awareness for Massage4MentalHealth. I want to use my personal and professional experiences to maximum effect while I have the platform to do so.” She added, “I need to inform as many people as possible suffering with mental health of this alternative treatment as well as educating other massage therapists and medical professionals that Massage4MentalHealth is a credible alternative.”
Hayley is still conducting media interviews and speaking at seminars, exhibitions and live events in order to raise awareness and champion this worthy cause. She will also be chatting to BABTAC & CIBTAC CEO Lesely Blair MBE on Monday the 5th September at 12h15pm as part of British Beauty Week. Please do join them.
If you would like to interview Hayley regarding Massage4MentalHealth then please get in contact with VIViD.