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World Mental Health Day 2020

World Mental Health Day 2020

One person in every four will be affected by a mental disorder at some stage of their lives – World Health Organisation (WHO).

According to the World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH) – the organiser of World Mental Health Day (10th October) – we’re facing an international mental health crisis. Figures from the World Economic Forum show that mental health conditions were already on the rise in every country in the world before coronavirus arrived, and the pandemic will undoubtedly have caused a further upsurge.

This is why the theme for 2020 is Mental health for all: greater investment – greater access. The WFMH wants everyone, everywhere to have access to quality mental health services, when and where they need them.

An important part of making therapy more accessible is finding alternative ways to deliver it. This can help break down the barriers that prevent people seeking treatment.

For example, some might find it difficult to travel to appointments if they don’t have affordable transport options, or their circumstances make it hard to get out. Carving out time to attend regular sessions could be a problem for others, especially if they’re juggling several commitments, or their normal routine has gone out of the window. Most face-to-face appointments take place during the day, which could rule out people who can’t get time off work. Some people might be worried about the privacy of phone appointments, if family or colleagues may overhear the conversation.

Online cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is one approach that’s designed to open mental health services up to more people. Patients can log in from a smartphone, laptop or tablet – at home, at work, or wherever they are – and ‘speak’ with their therapist by typing back and forth. This allows more flexibility; appointments can be arranged at any time of the day or evening, to fit around other commitments. It also makes the process really discreet, because nobody can even tell you’re having therapy!

Research shows that online and face-to-face CBT are equally effective, and people have the same chance of getting better whichever option they choose. Typing also has a number of advantages: the fact that the patient and therapist can’t see each other makes it easier for some people to ‘open up’, and you get a chance to reflect on what you’re writing as you go. You can also access support between sessions, by contacting your therapist if you need to, and when the treatment is over you can read back over your conversations later to refresh what you learned.

Here are some experiences Ieso’s patients have had of online therapy: “I was assigned a fantastic therapist who made me feel comfortable and who I felt really understood my problem and helped me work through it. My treatment was personal and tailored to me, I never felt like I was receiving 'scripted' or stock responses.”

“I had several weeks of 1-1 sessions through the platform and they helped me to see light at a difficult time. I have now finished the treatment plan and have both the mental tools to manage daily life, and self empowerment to make something much better of it.”

“I had sessions over several months and found them really beneficial in recognising how I can manage anxiety and learning strategies to cope with it and reduce symptoms. The service was personal, encouraging and specific to my needs. As a result I’m back at work and doing ok.”

“I was sceptical when my GP suggested online therapy. It sounds weird, but it works! After eight weeks I am so much better. Great therapist, and quick convenient therapy that works – I would recommend it to anybody.”

You can find out more about accessing online CBT here.

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