Desperately Seeking Support: UK
Talking about our mental health might be getting easier, but accessing therapy? Not so much. Here’s where to find help if you live in Britain…
If the tragic death of Caroline Flack has made anything painfully clear, it is that there needs to be a major rejig in our public consciousness around the topic of mental health – not only in raising awareness but rather in excavating the plethora of ways in which we discuss and interact with it.
The media’s hypocrisy in fog horning about its importance whilst simultaneously lacerating those in the limelight has never been clearer. For years, it has surreptitiously set a public precedent on how we treat the mental wellbeing of those outside our own circles, giving a green light to swarms of people looking to weigh in with their scathing critiques on the lives of people they know nothing about. Just think how damaging that must be to anyone’s headspace.
As a collective and as individuals, we must examine the types of media we consume and thus create a demand for. For me, that meant looking inwards, and then looking critically at the celebrity gossip shows I half-heartedly dip into from time to time. I’m looking at you, Wendy. There really shouldn’t be a difference in the manner in which we address mental health within the micro bubble of our loved ones and the macro, far-away land of celebrity. Both demand to be traversed with a level of sensitivity and complexity. We desperately need to strive to be better – both on and offline. Not only to whittle down the frequency of tragic celebrity deaths such as Caroline’s, but also to ensure we are creating a society that is kinder and softer even to those at the top, who we may think don’t need it.
Most crucially, it’s important that we get the word out on the helpful and pragmatic steps we can each feasibly take when we have those mental health wobbles. I don’t know about you, but I find the task of physically getting up and seeking out help quite daunting and hard. So, if you are struggling at the moment – please keep reading. There is a podcast you can listen to, a book you can read and a number you can simply dial to get you to a place where you feel less alone. Rest assured, the compilation of resources below is curated to be of genuine help to an inclusive range of people.
A kind fellow named Paul set up the Free Psychotherapy Network back in 2014, in a bid to list those organisations that aim to provide more affordable therapy services to those on low incomes, including students. Since it was created, some of the links have expired, but a lot are still up and running, meaning his site remains very useful. Catering mainly for the London area, but with some helpful exceptions, Paul has very generously put his time and effort into outlining each organisation’s contact details and price points very clearly. And for that, we thank him.
PoC therapy services
If you are a PoC and would like to receive therapy that is tailored to the particular struggles you face, the BAATN is an invaluable resource to browse. The largest directory of therapists of Black, African, South Asian and Caribbean heritage in the UK, with an average hourly rate of around £35, this is definitely a fantastic resource to have under your belt.
LGBTQIA+ therapy services
Alternatively, if you identify as LGBTQIA+ and feel like the right therapist for you is one trained in that specialism to truly help, Pink Therapy is the UK’s largest independent therapy organisation working with gender and sexual diversity clients, and a brilliant place to search for help.
Bespoke therapy services
If you want to scour through a long directory of private therapists, with all manner of specialisms and price ranges, BACP and Psychology Today will point you in the right direction. Featuring a huge range of qualified therapists, all that’s left to do is make a quick call and you’re on your way.
But the waiting list! Yes, you don’t even have to say it – we hear you. If therapy isn’t something you can afford to pay for to get it asap, the NHS has potentially free services available for you. As we all know, whether personally or through a friend, it takes a while before you get to plop yourself on the sofa, but you can start the process straight away either by going to your GP for a referral or by self-referring.
The maximum waiting time is 18-weeks, which is not ideal to say the least. But, whilst you are waiting, it may help to explore some alternative sources of support…
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy by Christine Wilding
If you are looking for a to-the-point, practical guide to practicing CBT techniques ASAP, this brilliantly approachable book is the one for you. The aim is to alter negative patterns of thinking and help you transform your mentality, and this offers a great pragmatic toolkit to reshaping your mental health. It’s not a cure in itself, but it could help between therapy sessions or to tide you over as you sit on the waiting list.
Happy by Derren Brown
This book puts things into perspective in a fun, engaging and, most of all, helpful way. Covering everything from stoicism to the history of happiness to death, written with wit and a sharp but accessible understanding, this is a truly fascinating read that could help you make some pivotal shifts in your thinking.
The Insecure Girl’s Handbook by Liv Purvis
An instrumental resource for women whose mental health is affected by bouts of insecurity, this offers up a route map into the open and honest discussion we all need to be having. A huge help for women battling with comparison and a lack of self-belief.
“Comedian Paul Gilmartin hosts a weekly, hour-long audio podcast consisting of interviews with artists, friends and the occasional doctor. The show is geared towards anyone interested in or affected by depression, addiction and other mental challenges which are so prevalent in the creative arts.”
Bryony Gordon’s Mad World
“Intimate conversations about getting unwell – and getting better. From Prince Harry to Fearne Cotton. Because mental health deserves to be talked about.”
Lastly, if it all gets too much and you are in desperate need of someone to reach out to, these hotlines will ensure you’re not left struggling alone
Free to call within the UK and Ireland, 24 hours a day
Call 0300 123 3393 or text 86463
Lines are open Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm except bank holidays
Rethink Mental Illness
0300 5000 927
Lines are open Monday to Friday, 10am to 2pm