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Does beauty therapy have a role to play in our mental health services?

With 74% of us saying that, in the last year, we have felt so stressed that we have felt overwhelmed and unable to cope demand on mental health services is at an all-time high. This demand is putting pressure on the NHS and seeing some areas of the country experience waiting lists of up to four years for mental health treatment. For many private therapy is an expense they can't stretch to, so it seems many are turning to beauticians and the treatments they offer as an alternative.

Does beauty therapy have a role to play in mental health services? Here we talk to Sasha Seaward, beauty and holistic therapist on her experience with mental health and get her thoughts on the role of her profession in mental health services.

Tell us a bit about your work and why mental health awareness is so important to you.

I work as a beauty and holistic therapist, using natural (or as natural as I can get!), vegan and cruelty free products. I have borderline personality disorder and OCD. I still find that hard to admit. I will talk openly about mental health and yet I’m still quite secretive about my diagnoses. I’m trying hard not to be, as I think it’ll only become less scary if we can all talk about things like this. I don’t want to be part of the problem, I want to help bring about the solution and smash that stigma! 

Along with a natural approach to beauty, you incorporate many healing, ayurvedic therapies into your treatments - why is this so important to you? How does it help your clients?

When I went to college to learn massage, I learnt the techniques, I learnt how to give a relaxing treatment. But after I trained in reiki, and ayurvedic massage, I learnt healing. It perhaps wasn’t even the actual courses. More that something just clicked into place in my mind. I don’t know how to describe it! But I do know that after that, every treatment became a very different experience for me and my clients. Now I really focus and spend my time feeling for what each client needs. All massage therapists work intuitively, but I think I have learnt to use that skill to create really beautiful, tailored treatments. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I don’t think I get it “spot on” all the time, but I do find that many of my clients find my treatments to be holistically beneficial and rejuvenating.

When some areas of the country are faced with NHS waiting lists of up to four years for mental health treatment, and private therapy is an expense many can't stretch to, it seems many are turning to beauticians and the treatments they offer as an alternative. What is your experience? Do you think beauty therapy has a role to play in mental health?

I do. However, I also think that having a facial, no matter how amazing it is, is NO substitute for therapy. There is a serious crisis happening, and the waiting lists to be seen are ridiculous. Government needs to be putting more money into our healthcare and should be taking mental health as seriously as physical health. I do think however that beauty and holistic treatments can be very valuable alongside therapy. If, for whatever reason, someone can’t access the right therapy, I do think that having someone spend an hour focussed on you can be incredibly useful. To have someone listen, or even to not if you’d rather not talk.  We don’t look after ourselves these days, so to have someone’s full attention and have them caring for you can has such a great effect. It can be really …needed. 

What is it about a beauty salon/treatment room do you think that makes people want to open up?

I think it’s the treatments! Often with very intimate things like waxing a client can feel quite vulnerable and exposed, and yet if you put them at ease, they then feel they can talk about anything! This tends to be on the more jokey side of things. When you’re waxing you need the mood to be light and happy - there’s enough pain going on already!! 

Again, with massage, clients often feel quite vulnerable. Touch is an incredible thing. I don’t think we touch each other enough these days. Massage treatments are quite useful here as obviously all the touching is consented and appropriate, but it’s also quite a lot more intimate than we are used to. I think things like this help people to feel more able to connect with you.

At Acala, we're big believers in the link between what we perceive in our mind and what we manifest in our real lives. In other words, in your inner wellbeing being directly related to your outer wellbeing and 'beauty'. If there was one piece of advice you could give to someone who is feeling like their inner wellbeing isn't quite right at the moment, what would it be?

I would say, ‘I get you!!’ My inner wellbeing isn’t right either. It’s not our fault, but we need to work out how to balance things out. Let’s stop. Slow down. Check ourselves. I have a little self-care checklist that I go through. It’s quite long but includes things like:

  • Have you taken any medication you might need?
  • Have you eaten/drank recently?
  • Have you washed?
  • Are you dressed, and dressed comfortably?
  • What are your priorities right now - and are those actually the correct ones?! 

Try mindfulness, writing, yoga, getting outside - right into nature! Breathing in some fresh air!! Look after yourself, take care doing it. If spending time putting on makeup is a treat, maybe do that. Or have a hot bath. Talk to someone. Sometimes these things can seem easy, or not enough, sometimes they are too hard to even think about. It’s all ok. Nothing is perfect, you just need to work out what helps you, what doesn’t, and what you need to do to work towards balance, towards good inner wellbeing!

Thank you so much for talking to us Sasha, some incredibly wise words there that we can all learn from. Sasha is Acala’s resident green beauty guru so stay tuned for more amazing content and tutorials from her on Acala. 

In the meantime, if you’re in need some chill time or some rejuvenation, why not check out our Good Night’s Sleep box for everything you need for a restful and restorative night.



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