Hi everyone, hope you’re all doing well. A few weeks ago, I highlighted some of the different ways in which distress can show itself – in our sleep, our activity levels, our mood. Today I want to focus on what to do if you notice that some of these might apply to you, and on some of the things that you can do to support your wellbeing.
It is really important to point out from the beginning that if you are feeling that some additional support would be useful, there are many different ways in which you can get this.
If you would like to speak to a mental health professional, the most common way to be able to do this is to speak to your GP. It might feel anxiety provoking to speak to a GP about your mental health, but don’t forget that they have had this conversation countless times with others. You could also bring a friend with you for some moral support if you think that would be helpful.
Your GP should be able to talk to you about a number of ways to support you. It is important that you get as much information about the different options available. Your GP should talk these through with you, whether that be a referral to talking therapies, medication or other activities (for example, some GPs can offer things like gym memberships ‘on prescription’).
Alternatively, some people might prefer to meet with a therapist directly (i.e. not go through their GP). The entry level service for therapy is called IAPT, which stands for ‘Increasing Access to Psychological Therapy’. Everyone can self refer to an IAPT service themselves, rather than having to go through their GP. However, it’s also important to note that IAPT services only work with individuals with what is termed ‘mild to moderate’ mental health difficulties, and offer brief interventions. There are other services which support people whose difficulties have more complex or longer lasting difficulties.
Referrals to IAPT depend on which borough you live in:
Here is the website for referring yourself to IAPT if you live in Lambeth https://slam-iapt.nhs.uk/lambeth/how-to-make-an-appointment/
And here’s if you live in Wandsworth https://www.talkwandsworth.nhs.uk
And here’s if you live in Southwark https://slam-iapt.nhs.uk/southwark/welcome-to-southwark-psychological-therapies-service/contact-us/making-an-appointment
Other Forms of Helpseeking
Many people prefer to access support from other organisations that are unconnected to the NHS, for many different reasons. Seeking help is a really personal decision, and it’s important to always be guided by what feels comfortable for you. If you would prefer to access therapy in this way, here are some options:
https://www.lambethandsouthwarkmind.org.uk Mind in Lambeth and Southwark offer therapy – I should add that I am not connected to this organisation and so it would be useful to make your own enquiries about the type of therapy that’s on offer.
Therapy is a relationship between yourself and your therapist. Therefore it’s really important that you find someone that you feel comfortable with, and that you feel will be able to support you. It is totally ok to spend some time finding the therapist that’s right for you.
Activities That Help With Wellbeing
The suggestions I’ve made above are related to speaking to a therapist to support you through difficult times. However, just like oranges are not the only fruit, therapy is not the only way of supporting your wellbeing. In fact, lots of people prefer other means of improving their wellbeing. There are a wide variety of community organisations which support people experiencing difficult times (of course, the Young Mums’ Support Network is one such organisation). Here are some popular choices of activities:
The benefits of physical activity on how we feel has been well documented, but this can take lots of different forms. For some, team activities where there is an aspect of socialising (for example football or netball) are fun and sometimes even disguise the fact that you are exercising! For others, exercise can be an opportunity for peace and solitude, for example yoga, pilates or going for a walk. In the pandemic, more people have been turning to online activity sessions, for example on YouTube.
Being able to explore how you are feeling can sometimes be made easier by writing things down – this could be as a reflection at the end of each day, or writing stories or poems, or even plans for the future.
And lots of other things!
Making music, reading, cooking delicious nutritious food, doing things that you feel skilled and accomplished at… the possibilities are endless! The important thing is to find activities that work for you – which will be different for different people. This might be just being in contact with other people – chatting, relaxing or getting some ‘time out’ for yourself.