Therapy really can help with mental ill health
20 February, 2020
• THE death of Caroline Flack has brought the issue of mental health and suicide back into public focus.
I am not writing to share any views on the rights and wrongs of the CPS prosecution of Ms Flack, but rather to speak about the importance of mental wellbeing and treatment.
It is vitally important to speak openly about the difficulties which for far too long have been taboo and attracted stigma.
Those who suffer with depression are far too easily labelled “crazy”, “unstable”, and “nuts”, the effect of which is to make mental ill health a source of shame and embarrassment in a way physical ill health never is. That does nothing to help anyone.
For just under two years, I have regularly attended sessions with a psychotherapist. The effect on my wellbeing has been transformational.
Before I started, prompted by what can only be described as a serious crisis, I was utterly sceptical of any benefits which “therapy” could provide. I thought it could not tell me anything I did not already know.
How could “talking” help? How could psychobabble about my childhood make me feel better? I loathed the idea of being the stereotypical, self-obsessed, Americanised therapy patient.
That’s not what therapy has to be. For me it is an opportunity to talk through issues, concerns, what is making me feel down or generally about how I am doing. This has helped me understand and contextualise those feelings which previously spiralled out of control.
Expressing those thoughts and feelings allows me to contextualise them and, crucially, to see them for what they are: not overwhelming, but manageable and explainable.
It has been a revelation and a huge source of support. Not every approach works for everyone. Some people will respond better to some methods than others.
Finding the right person is not easy. Accessing the treatment is also difficult unless you are fortunate enough to be able to fund it yourself. The NHS offers very limited options – both in terms of range and length of treatment.
But I would urge anyone who has experienced periods of unexplained or persistent low mood to try it. The potential benefits are enormous.