Resolving Serious Mental Illness with Therapeutic Farms

Work and intensive contact with nature can help people recover from psychotic disorders, sometimes completely.

Maryland was an innovator in this approach over a century ago. The state abandoned this model, perhaps due to the public's fluctuating concern for the mentally ill and unwillingness to fund treatment programs. Eventually Maryland's mental institutions were better known for abuse and overcrowding.

Therapeutic farms are making a comeback. In the US, the Hopewell Community is having positive outcomes with its therapeutic farm community by using work and contact with nature as a means to improving social skills, emotional self-regulation, and consistent medication use. Unfortunately, insurance does not usually pay for this kind of treatment.

There are similar approaches being used successfully in other countries, as Daniel Mackler has shown in several documentaries. His films are fascinating because they demonstrate that there are alternatives to the current inadequate standards of care in the United States.

Healing Homes shows how the Family Care Foundation in Sweden helps people recover from psychosis without medication.

Open Dialogue describes the Western Lapland Open Dialogue Project, which treats first-break psychosis. Mackler reports that 85% of clients achieve full recovery and most no longer require antipsychotic medication by the time they exit the program.

Approaches like these could save lives and reduce costs by helping clients return to productive lives.