On 15 April, the FHT was delighted to join industry experts and parliamentarians to reflect back on the past year and discuss how holistic therapists can help to tackle health problems emerging as a result of the pandemic including mental health issues, long COVID and burnout.
The Panel Session was chaired by Judith Cummins MP, Co-Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Beauty and Aesthetic Wellbeing (APPG-BAW), who was joined by Peter Dowd MP and panellists Dr Michael Dixon, GP and Chair of the College of Medicine and Integrated Healthcare; Gwyn Featonby, Education Lead at the NHS Natural Health School; Farrah Idris, MFHT, Social Prescribing Link Worker and Complementary Therapist; Peter Mackereth, Honorary Lecturer and Researcher at The Christie NHS Trust and Volunteer Complementary Therapist; and Karen Young, FHT Editor and Communications Manager.
The panel session lasted for an hour, with a wide range of topics discussed by the panellists and MPs, including:
- How COVID has impacted the provision of holistic therapy over the past year but has also presented opportunities to demonstrate its value in supporting health and wellbeing, and promoting self-healing and self-care.
- That holistic therapists have the potential to support both the public and health professionals, post-COVID, in areas such as anxiety, mental health, grief, long COVID and burnout.
- That holistic therapists – including complementary, holistic beauty and sports therapists – deserve better recognition for their role in helping to support health and wellbeing in a way that meets clients’ needs.
- How more needs to be done to educate both the health authorities and other health professionals about the benefits of holistic therapy, including its potential to improve patient outcomes and create efficiencies within the health and care system.
- That even where the value of holistic therapy is recognized, accessibility to treatments remains a key issue, with many people not able to access either online or hands-on support because they lack the resources or finance.
- The various challenges around evidence base and research, including funding, in order to prove the value of holistic therapy services to the health authorities and policy makers.
Both Judith Cummins and Peter Dowd, who are fully supportive of holistic therapy and integrated healthcare, expressed a keen interest to help facilitate further discussions on all of the above points, both in parliament and between the panellists and appropriate health agencies. The FHT will continue to work closely with the APPG-BAW to help progress this and will of course keep members updated.