Removing Barriers For Counselling.
We are constantly reminded in the media about the importance of caring for our mental health. There are lots of celebrities in the news and on social media encouraging people to talk about their mental health and get the support they need before it gets too difficult or late.
I am pleased to see that over the years I have been supporting people with their mental health the stigma is reducing and more and more people are coming forward to seek some support. I have also noticed in my practice that the people who are seeking support are getting younger (or it could be I’m just getting older, but I digress).
What I would like us to think about is.
What are the barriers to getting the support we need and how can we remove some of those barriers ourselves?
The 5 biggest barriers I commonly hear about are
1. The waiting lists
2. The cost of support
3. Not knowing which therapy is right for you
4. Struggling to make the first appointment
5. Struggling to explain how you are feeling to a someone you don’t know or not knowing what to say
This list is could be endless if we are honest and we can always think of a reason not to do something when we are feeling ok but when we are struggling to understand how we are thinking and feeling it, the reasons for not doing something can come thick and fast.
This can be really frustrating for the person who is experiencing these things but also for the people and family who are trying to support the person to seek help.
Maybe you could just think about what your barriers are to seeking help?
But let me go through the ones above one at a time
The waiting lists: these can be long and accessing support out of hours or around work, school or university etc can be problematic for some people. This can be exacerbated when we filter or hide how we are truly thing and feeling from other people i.e. doctors or loved ones
Suggestion: I would try and write things down or take someone along to appointments who can sometimes explain things for you and also listen to what is being said during these times. Of course, going to seek private support is always an option but it can depend on number 2 in this list and to ability to pay.
The cost of support: while the NHS offers a great level of service and lots of different services within it, we also know that it can have longer waiting lists or at times be restrictive because of finances. Accessing private support is always there but it does depend on your ability to pay etc and is one of the biggest barriers at times.
Suggestion: ring around different agencies and find out the costs sometimes there are reductions or discounts available. Look at local charities like Mind or self-help apps like Clam and Headspace to help in the short term. Think about investing in your mental health just as much as your physical health as it can prove to be a wise investment long term.
Not knowing which therapy is right for you: there are lots of different therapies available to people now and just as much confusion over which one is the best for an individual the truth is from my perspective that they are all good in their own way but this doesn’t help you make a decision does it.
Suggestion: do some research or listen to other people’s experiences and then take steps to try meeting with different therapists, to find out which one you feel most comfortable with and which one you feel has the best experience to deal with what you are experiencing currently. Most decent agencies will offer you a free initial consultation to undertake this and enable you to make an informed decision.
Struggling to make the first appointment: taking this step can feel huge for some people and a lot of people require encouragement and support to attend the first appointment. In my experience nearly all people feel a sense of relief once they have made this step.
Suggestion: take someone with you, write down some things you want to mention but may forget, find out exactly what you have to do when you make the appointment again most decent agencies will run through the first appointment over the phone to give you and idea of what to expect. Understand that you are not committing to anything at this point it’s about getting information to decide about whether you feel the therapy is for you.
Struggling to explain how you are feeling to a someone you don’t know or not knowing what to say: again as with all of these this can be really difficult, please remember that the person you are seeing is used to this and have been trained to help you feel at ease and talk about things.
Suggestion: as I have suggested above taking someone with you can help, writing things down so you can show the therapist the things that you are experiencing, taking a list of medication or questions can help in you feeling more at ease. Understanding that you are not committing to anything apart from getting more information and details about the therapist and how they work.
I hope some of these suggestions can help you in removing some of the barriers to getting the support you need at this time. If you have any questions or would like any advice I would happily see or speak to you either directly or via email etc
Getting the right support can change your life and how you feel and cope with things in the future. You are worth it, take small steps, make small changes and take care.