It’s World Mental Health Day, an ideal time to reflect on our own mental health and the importance of maintaining good mental health much in the same way we do our physical health. Public Health England and the NHS have launched a new initiative, fronted by members of the Royal Family, called Every Mind Matters, which aims to help people improve and maintain their mental health.

When you live with poor mental health, you can often feel like you’re alone in the world. It’s easy to tell you that you’re not, and that there are so many people out there looking for help and wanting to give help in return, but it’s difficult to convince people that this is indeed the case. Last Podcast on the Left host Marcus Parks, who lives with bipolar disorder, once said that your mental health isn’t your fault, but it is your responsibility. With that in mind, we’ve put together a list of resources and services that might be helpful to you if you need to take control of your mental health and wellbeing.

Support Groups

Sometimes, it’s good to talk. Especially when you can speak openly with people who understand what you’re going through. Speaking to the doctor about your mental health can feel very systematic and more like you’re trying to convince them that your issues are real, and friends or family might not really understand what you’re going through. In that case, joining a support group might be terrifying, but it might also be exactly what you need to talk through your issues. Mental Health UK is a great resource for finding groups, as is the NHS and Mind.

Arts and Creative Therapies

Unfortunately, mental health services are underfunded and overburdened. This is the extremely unfortunate reality of the NHS. That means that in certain situations, you may be better served attempting to access therapeutic activities through the third or private sectors. Arts and creative therapies are extremely helpful in giving you an opportunity to express your feelings through the medium of art. This could involve playing music or creating art, among other things. People living with mental illnesses like schizophrenia and depression may find art therapy to be extremely helpful. You can find information through Mind, apply for these therapies through your GP or find a therapist in the UK counseling directory.

Therapy and Counseling

Speaking of the UK counseling directory, you may want to consider therapy as an option for helping improve your mental health. The whole affair isn’t as much like Hannibal as you might think. Therapists offer a neutral space in which to bounce ideas, feelings and thoughts around without judgment. You may also be able to get CBT – cognitive behavioral therapy – from your therapist, which is an extremely useful mental tool for dealing with a huge assortment of issues that come arise from mental illness. You can, of course, be recommended for therapy through your GP, but if you find the NHS waiting list too daunting, you can use the counseling directory to find a therapist who suits your needs. Many operate on a sliding payment scale, making it a little easier to find a therapist who suits your budget.

Crisis Contacts

If you’re experiencing a mental health crisis, you need to be proactive to regain a foothold on your mental health. It’s not easy, but contacting an organisation like the Samaritans if you feel out of control or in a crisis can help you to put one foot in front of the other and move forward. If you find your existing symptoms getting significantly worse and interfering with your day-to-day life, for example, they prevent you from socialising or working, you need to take action. In this kind of situation, it’s entirely reasonable to book a GP appointment if you can get one quickly enough, contact NHS 111, or even call 999 if you feel the emergency is pressing. There’s nothing wrong with calling emergency services: sometimes, you cannot wait for help, and in that case, it’s a good thing to get yourself to A&E. This page on the NHS website can give you a good idea of what to expect in A&E, and who will be there to help you.

If you’re struggling with your mental health, please reach out to someone. The following links will take you to Samaritans, Papyrus, Breathing Space (Scotland), CALM (men), Switchboard (LGBTQ+) and the National Trans* Helpline (trans*/non-binary), who will help and support you as best they can in this difficult time, and more importantly, they’ll listen to you. Please, don’t struggle alone.

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