Prevent mind-body disorders? Start with the youth...education.
This issue has concerned me for years. I have treated thousands of patients for stress-related health conditions. TMS/PPD is the most common one. I have treated back pain, neck pain, jaw pain, pelvic pain, arm pain, foot pain, headaches, and other conditions that have a patient's internalized stress, worries, fears, their childhood traumas, their personality (Type T) as the ultimate root cause. Many, many, many amazing success stories. Almost all of these individuals were adults in their 20's, through 80's.
But can we prevent these disorders? If we can, it is going to have to start with educating younger people. Children clearly get stress-related disorders. A common condition is benign, unexplained abdominal pain in children between 8 and 11 years old or so. Another one is headaches, again between 8 and 12 years of age, or older. Calm reassurance goes a long way, and in severe cases, child psychologists can make a huge difference with their skills and techniques which include speaking, listening, having the child draw, looking at pictures together, breathing exercises, etc. (Medical doctor, of course first excludes a structural pathology).
But long-term prevention is going to involve insight. Young people at around the time of puberty, or adolescence, develop the abstract abilities necessary to understand more complex concepts. I include among these concepts-- the mind-body linkage; the mind-body connection. I therefore want to teach adolescents, teens if you will, about their brain, their mind, the science of pain, the evidence for and power of the mind-body linkage. I have been developing a curriculum that will be piloted in middle school/high school students in the upcoming months during the 2019-2020 academic cycle. We will then revise and improve the program based upon feedback and hopefully get it into broader distribution.
Most likely this curriculum will be taught in the health education classes commonly found in middle schools and high schools, certainly in California, and most likely other states as well. A few days, or a week of this curriculum, combined with The MindBody Workbook for teens, will provide a great foundation for adolescents as they move into college and eventually adult life.
Child and adult psychologists who have reviewed this Workbook have given feedback and lots of encouragement. The Workbook will now be available on Amazon , in my office, and will of course be a part of the curriculum.
If you're a teacher, a principal, or interested in this project, I intend to support the costs at the school level with my own funds and with the income from selling the Workbook in office and online. The Workbook and curriculum will be provided, as a pdf, for free to the students and teachers in the pilot program and going forward will be a low-cost or no-cost addition to the classroom for schools that want to enhance social-emotional learning in their school. I am also considering the home school market as a group of independent individuals who may take to this approach. Costs to that group will be determined going forward.
The structure this program will take will ultimately be determined by the best way to reach the widest possible audience. That might mean a separate non-profit, simply gifting materials, or a for-profit structure that recycles the earnings into wider distribution and allows for staff costs if that becomes necessary.