Accessing Mental Health Care in UK
Mind Your Health!
The NHS Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme began in 2008 and has transformed the treatment of adult anxiety disorders and depression in England. IAPT is widely-recognised as the most ambitious programme of talking therapies in the world. In the past year alone, more than one million people accessed IAPT services for help to overcome their depression and anxiety, and better manage their mental health.
Who can benefit? Like physical health, mental health is something everyone has. Mental health difficulties can effect anyone, at some time. If you have experienced a human life transition, whether that’s the birth of a child, death of a loved one, moving city, changing jobs, retiring, stress or bullying at work, lack of family or friend support, then it is fully understandable why you are more likely to experience difficulties with mood and anxiety in response to these life stressors.
How can IAPT help? encourages people to access practical support for anxiety and mood difficulties. A therapist will support clients to make, plan and achieve goals that they may have spent years putting off. A client will be taught how to be more self-aware of how their thoughts and behaviours impact their feelings. This may mean retraining their thoughts, reducing worry and stress, improving sleep habits, teaching them mindfulness techniques, self-compassionate self-talk, assertiveness or goal setting.
How are attitudes to mental health changing? More people are now beginning to recognise and understand mental health. Talking about how we think and feel is an important step to understanding what we need to change to improve our situation. Things are moving in a more positive direction regarding attitudes to mental health. People are starting to view mental health with the same importance as physical health, and recognising the value of looking after ourselves from the inside out.
How the media has helped A lot of media attention has focused on mental health care recently. This has helped to ‘normalise’ mental health and de-stigmatise it, thus helping people feel that they are not alone. Media focus has helped to raise awareness that there are techniques available to help the client feel in control of their emotional responses. Media awareness has encouraged more people to Google their local IAPT service, and find out how the service can support them. Often, this results in the person having an assessment with a qualified, supportive Well Being Therapist, before being directed to an appropriate talking therapy.
What can we do to help ourselves? We make great friends, encourage our loved ones and give them a boost when they are low. But, often we are not as kind or supportive of ourselves. If we tell ourselves we are useless, or a failure, we are going to feel like one. Consequently, we begin withdrawing from others, neglect our needs, and become even more critical abouthow we think about ourselves. This makes us feel worse – it’s a vicious cycle.
Treat yourself like you would a friend. For example, would you speak to a friend the way you speak to yourself? Would you put as much pressure on a friend as you are putting on yourself? Would you berate a friend, as you do yourself, when things go wrong? Start threating yourself like you are your best friend.
The IAPT service are all about giving people the skills to help themselves, so visit the NHS website to find your local IAPT provider. There are also many guided self-help techniques and resources available on the website.
Deborah J Monshin (c) 2020