Lalla Hirayama credits equine therapy for helping with her mental illness - but what is it exactly?

Lalla Hirayama, picture Instagram

Lalla Hirayama, picture Instagram

Published May 10, 2023


Lalla Hirayama, the acclaimed South African TV presenter, recently revealed her struggle with mental health, in an Instagram post as she stood next to her trusty steed, Africa's African Sky, affectionately known as Palouse.

Hirayama shared a heartfelt message with her followers, detailing her battle with mental illness and apologising for any absences or lack of communication during her difficult journey.

In her Instagram post, Hirayama wrote: “I haven’t been myself lately. If you’ve been trying to get ahold of me and can't- I’m sorry it hasn’t been an easy few months.

“…Struggling with my mental health and for the most part feeling pretty hopeless- and completely lost on how to process some of my darkest thoughts and feelings.”

The TV presenter, who recently became a horse mother to Palouse, demonstrated the therapeutic benefits of equine therapy, which can be effective in managing mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety.

Hirayama’s willingness to share her struggles is powerful. Too often, mental health issues are brushed aside or stigmatised and individuals grappling with them are left to suffer in silence.

It's important to note that mental health struggles are common. These kinds of struggles are even more difficult when you’re in the public eye.

Mental health struggles are not a weakness. They are part of being human and can affect anyone. Seeking help and support is a sign of strength, not weakness, and it's important to know that it's okay to ask for help when you need it.

Palouse, the new addition to Hirayama’s life, isn't just a pretty horse but a powerful tool in Hirayama's mental health journey. Her post serves as an inspiration for people who are looking for natural ways to manage and overcome struggles with mental health.

What is equine therapy?

Equine therapy is a form of experiential therapy that involves working with a horse or horses, allowing the patient to engage in activities that provide opportunities to improve self-esteem, increase confidence, communication, problem solving, trust-building and healing, among others.

One of the primary benefits of equine therapy is that it helps patients connect with nature, learn new skills and create a sense of well-being. It is a relatively new form of therapy. Research suggests it can be effective in managing mental health.

Equine therapy involves a range of activities, such as grooming, feeding and leading horses, as well as more structured exercises such as riding and groundwork. The focus is on building a relationship with the horse and developing trust, communication and empathy.

It has been shown to be effective in managing mental health, especially in cases of depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Is equine therapy effective?

First, working with horses can be a calming and grounding experience that helps reduce stress and anxiety.

Second, horses are social animals that require communication and trust, which can help individuals develop the skills and apply them to their interpersonal relationships.

Finally, if you’re an animal lover, you will know, horses are non-judgmental animals that provide a sense of acceptance and unconditional positive regard, which can be healing for individuals who may have experienced rejection or trauma in their lives.

If you are struggling with mental health issues, it might be worth considering equine therapy as a complementary form of treatment. However, it’s important to remember there is no one-size-fits-all approach to mental health and it's best to find what works for you

Hirayama’s post about her mental health struggles is a testament to her courage and resilience.

Her use of horse therapy in managing her mental health is a sign of the potential of alternative treatments in mental health care, and her willingness to share her story serves as an inspiration to others struggling with similar issues.

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