Finding the support you need

Carmen BryceBlog posts

If you had broken an arm, have a cold or feel sick, then you would be encouraged to go see a GP or go to the hospital and get what you need seen to.

What about if you were feeling anxious or depressed. Where would you be encouraged to go? Do we know where to go and do we know who to talk to?

In an age where information is at our finger tips and we are encouraged to open up, I believe mental health is very much in ‘fashion’ at the moment in western society. With all the messages revolving around “It’s ok not to be ok”, “It’s ok to talk” and “If you need help it’s there” Have we jumped a bit too far by not giving the knowledge of where and how we look after this mental health of ours.

Book appointment

Considering the term “mental health” can be interpreted or perceived in a variety of different ways, considering the efficacy of different applied psychological frameworks can be seen in different lights and considering the perception of recovery or living with a mental health issue can be viewed across a variety of spectrums, it is no wonder we do not have a one model fits all for everyone and this is how you look after and maintain positive healthy mental health.

The question remains – where do we go and what do we ask for in the journey to look after our mental health?

Mental health to me is a neutral term I use to define our wellbeing that incorporates our psychological, social and emotional health.

Talk therapy, group therapy, peer support, medication and manualized CBT are off the top of my head the avenues for depression and anxiety that can be used depending of course on geographic location and access to each. I did not include meditation/mindfulness as I feel this is a tool that I would use in my practice as well as being used in a number of the below.

Talk therapy: Being a CBT therapist myself I am a small bit biased when it comes to what therapy or type of counsellor/therapist/psychologist/psychiatrist/psychotherapist one should go and see. In a nutshell talk therapy is going to talk to someone about what is going on in your life and any issues you are facing. The hope is that through talking one can get a better understanding of what is happening and figure out with the support (Not advice) of the therapist. If going down this avenue then I would advise reading about how the therapist works. An interesting part of the evidence for talk therapy shows that the relationship between therapist and client factors most in positive change/growth. Here at MyMind, we offer online and face to face talk therapy and in Ireland we provide a wide variety of private therapists/groups including family resource centres.

Group therapy: Group therapy is a group of people with 1-2 therapists facilitating the group. If a depression group then the attendees would range across a spectrum with varying levels of depression. Through engagement with each other and in direct prompting of the therapist it is hoped that growth and positive change occur through mutual learning on how each other copes and ways of looking at the depression. In a very similar way to talk therapy, the therapist’s psychological framework will set how the group moves forward.

Peer support: Peer support is the help and support that people with lived experience of a mental illness can give to one another through various forms of activities from groups to art to gardening. This model along with talk therapy is I believe the two growing the fastest in Ireland. This is about supporting each other with empathy and understanding focusing on the strengths while moving towards a person’s wellbeing. In Limerick for example, we have Le Cheile under Limerick Mental Health Association that offers peer support. A day in here could see you doing some creative writing, art classes or simply having a coffee and chat. MyMind also has a partnership with the Irish Men’s Shed Association which offers a safe environment for men to share and talk.

Medication: Depending on whom you talk to, medication for depression and anxiety can be seen as a plaster, something you can’t come off or something that helps you through a tough spot. I see so many people coming into me and not knowing how medication works or people wondering if they should go on medication. Typical medication namely SSRIs work on the physiological behavioural symptoms of anxiety and depression. Medication in itself cannot alter the way we think or see the world but through reducing the physical symptoms it is hoped we start to change the way we see the world. My example is a situation that induces an anxious response. The medication will reduce the symptoms of anxiety therefore changing the way we see the event due to not feeling as anxious. I am not anti-medication nor am I pro medication, I believe what works for you as an individual on your journey is a choice you make, but we should make an informed decision with anything. It is important to note I am not a medical expert and would encourage anyone wanting further knowledge talk to a medical professional such as a doctor.

Manualized CBT: With information so readily available and how structured CBT can be with anxiety and depression it was obvious that it would be adapted into a book/online. CBT works off the premise that our perceptions of the world around us shapes how we feel/think and by changing the way we see/think we change the way we feel. Very simple right.. I always say that CBT sounds so straight forward it is no wonder one could assume to be changed overnight. Manualized CBT can be done online or through a book, I would caution to make sure the book/website is certified in some way. On a daily basis one would be instructed to record your thought patterns working originally off the premise of: What was the situation? What were the thoughts? What were the emotions? And what was the behaviour that got enacted or essentially what happened. Through this journaling or recording of events one is thought to get into a reflective practice of viewing situations or life events from this premise and allowing greater control over how we react/think thus reducing the anxiety/depression by challenging the thought patterns.

To finish I think it is vital to note that no matter the avenue one uses, there is so many for a reason! We are all individual and what works for one person might not work for another. I hope this has been informative and at least gives a better insight into some of the options available to people.

If you want to talk to someone at MyMind, please contact our team at hq@mymind.org or call us at 076 680 1060.

Book appointment

Written by MyMind Limerick therapist and Board member of the Limerick Mental Health Association Patrick Fitzgerald