Society and mental health

NIMHANS to set up center for integrative medicine

White Swan Foundation

Bangalore: The National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS) has received provisional approval to set up a center for integrative medicine. This center will offer allopathic treatment, along with complementary ayurveda treatment and yoga therapy.

Speaking at the symposium on Applications of Integrative Medicine in Mental and Neurological Disorders held in NIMHANS on 27 October, Dr Shivarama Varambally, additional professor of psychiatry, said that the center should be set up within the next year.
The symposium was organized by the NIMHANS Integrated Center for Yoga, in collaboration with the University of Sao Paulo Medical School Hospital, Brazil. It featured several sessions on how ayurveda and yoga can be used as complementary treatment for mental and neurological disorders.

Delivering the inaugural address, Dr S K Chaturvedi, dean of behavioral sciences, NIMHANS, encouraged medical professionals and researchers to find different ways of proving the efficacy of alternative treatment methods. “It’s unfair to use the research methodology of modern psychopharmacology to assess such interventions. Yoga is a lifestyle. It cannot be prescribed in doses, and randomized controlled trials are not possible,” he said.

Dr K S Ravindranath, vice chancellor, Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences (RGUHS), emphasized the importance of integrating other modes of medicine along with allopathic treatment. “Our goal is to give relief to the patient’s suffering with safety and effectiveness. It’s important to have different treatment options available to the doctor and the patient; not to replace, but to complement treatment. There needs to be more research to make these forms of treatment credible and more acceptable to medical practitioners,” he said.
The symposium also saw the launch of NIMHANS' pilot project to deliver virtual yoga services to persons with mental illness. This project caters to those who want to integrate yoga into their treatment but cannot travel to NIMHANS everyday. In the first phase of this project, the virtual instruction services will be available at the NIMHANS Center for Wellbeing (NCWB) for an hour each in the morning and the evening. When the second phase is launched, patients can sign up to ​receive virtual lessons from their homes.

Through the day, the symposium featured talks on integration of yoga and ayurveda in psychiatric care, usage of functional MRI in psychiatry, the role of yoga in treatment for noncommunicable disorders such as diabetes, and stress management and development of empathy with medical students.
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