The world of mental health can feel confusing and overwhelming and it can be difficult to know how and when to seek support or even where to start. We really care about supporting you with this journey and helping you make informed choices. Like all problems, it can be really useful to break things down into simple steps to help get started.
We suggest using the following four steps as a starting point:
· Step 1: Identify the problem and understand your goals
· Step 2: Understand the support available to you
· Step 3: Access and engage with your chosen method of support
· Step 4: Review your progress and maintain positive change
Step 1: Identify the problem and understand your goals
We are better able to change something when we know what we want to be different so it’s important to give some thought to the main problem you are experiencing and want help with. The problem doesn’t need to be a self-diagnosis or even have a name. It may be a cluster of feelings, behaviours or concerns. It may be observations your loved ones have shared, or it may be that you simply don’t feel yourself. You might find you have several problems and don’t know where to start. That’s fine – make a list. A mental health professional will be able to help support you to better understand this and identify the main problem to address. Working on one problem often has a positive ripple effect on the others.
Goals help keep us focused. Sometimes, if we’re unsure about what the main problem is, identifying a goal and focusing on what we want can help us identify it. Your goal doesn’t need to be perfectly defined but it’s helpful for you to have a sense of what you want to work on or what you would like to be different. If you have been feeling irritable and snappy for example, you may want techniques to help you feel calmer. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and exhausted, you may want some coping strategies for stress, and if you’ve avoiding certain things out of fear or worry, you may want to be able to face these things again.
Step 2: Understand the support available to you
Once you have identified the problem and your goals, it is helpful to look into the support available to help you with this. At Brighter Minds, we offer an initial consultation to help you get started on your journey to achieving your mental health and wellbeing goals. Alternatively, your GP can often be a helpful starting point.
We have developed the following guides to help you with this step:
· Talking to Your GP about Mental Health
· Guide to Accessing Therapy
· What to expect from CBT
The NHS also offers information on how to access support for Mental Health.
Step 3: Access and engage with your chosen method of support
This step is the ‘doing’ part. Depending on what kind of support you have chosen, this could involve working with a therapist, taking prescribed medication, seeing your GP or mental health nurse or possibly a combination of these things. It is important that you follow the treatment plan you have agreed and are honest with whoever is providing this support about whether you are finding it helpful. If not, it might be helpful to go back to Step 2 and explore other options that may work better for you and discuss this with them in order to agree a new plan.
We have developed the following guides to help you with this step, in relation to engaging with CBT:
· Preparing for Your Mental Health Consultation
· 10 Top Tips for Getting the Most out of CBT
Step 4: Review your progress and maintain positive change
This is a really important step that is easy to skip over, especially if you are feeling much better. It can be helpful to take some time to think about your journey and note down responses to reflective questions that help you capture what you have learnt and achieved, such as the following:
· What has helped you feel better and achieve you goal?
· What changes do you want to maintain and how will you do this?
· What challenges have you had along the way and how did you manage them?
· What challenges you think may present themselves and how might you manage them?
· Who can support you to maintain your progress and change?
· What can you do if you find yourself struggling again?
A bit about how Brighter Minds can help
Brighter Minds are currently offering CBT online which means you can now access CBT at home. We start with an initial consultation which is up to an hour and fifteen minutes long. This is an opportunity to gain a really good understanding of the problem you would like support with and to make a clinical recommendation about the most appropriate treatment. You can find out more about this in our guide, Preparing for your Mental Health Consultation.
If CBT is the recommended treatment, therapy sessions can be arranged and booked with us. If another treatment is recommended instead, although we don’t currently offer other treatments, we will provide you with information about how to access this treatment elsewhere.