Corona is not making life easy (not that life is always easy anyway, without a global pandemic to contend with). So when Wellbetter approached us to help open up the discussion around mental health, we jumped at it. It’s a big topic – so let’s get started…
The topic of mental health has been misunderstood and stigmatised for centuries. Even the term “mental health” is loaded.
For some it conjures images of illness, “craziness” or depression. It conjures false images of problems and conditions, rather than natural human experiences. The reality is we all have a brain and a nervous system. We all have thoughts, emotions and behaviours that are to varying degrees helpful or distressing. It’s part of being human. It does not mean there is something wrong with us.
The extent to which our mental health helps or hinders our life is a matter of degree; mental health is a spectrum, just like physical health. It fluctuates.
And just like take care of our physical health, we could all do with paying attention to our mental health too.
In our secular society no longer turn to religion to explore our inner lives – so what have we replaced it with? What do we have now, that is a normal and regular part of life, to nurture and evolve our selves?
There are many humanistic ways to look after our selves. Meditation, yoga, reiki, massage are all becoming part of the plethora of wellbeing options out there for us.
Wellbeing is fundamentally about self-awareness, and it’s about learning to relate to others. We are social creatures: the need for positive relationships is hard-wired into our DNA. Our very survival as a species depends on it.
As pre-eminent doctor and psychotherapist Dr Van der Kolk said:
“Being able to feel safe with other people is probably the single most important aspect of mental health; safe connections are fundamental to meaningful and satisfying lives.”
This throws talk therapy firmly into the limelight as a prime candidate for our wellbeing. It helps us in 3 key ways:
The connection between mental health and therapy as a solution is widely known. It is an established, proven way to start getting more of what we want in life, something New Yorkers have appreciated for years. Now in the UK too, we’re beginning to see the benefit of working with a therapist, just like we may work with a personal trainer.
Psychology has been around for about a century, yet still we ask “Can I trust it?”. Can it really do anything for me? Will the therapist go digging into my past or ask private questions about things I don’t want to discuss? Do I have to lie on a couch?
From experience, I can say yes and no – yes it can do something for us; no you don’t have to lie on a couch. You are in charge. You find the person you click with. You don’t have to do or say anything you don’t want to. And you go at your pace.
It’s like having a trained orienteer walk beside you as you make your way through the forest, not telling you which path to take, but pointing out all the interesting things you might not have seen that will help you navigate and use your own map. A therapist can help you see both the wood and the trees.
Therapy is probably the only conversation that is about you and only you. Deeply listening without inserting ourselves into the conversation is a skill which takes a lot of self-awareness and a lot of practice. This is where we could all do with a therapist; they have no interest in splattering their ego all over your life.
When I started talking about the idea of a modern self-development community fit for the 21st century, I was told by many that the idea of therapy is excruciating: sitting in a room with a stranger talking about feelings. It seemed hard to access, hard to afford, and hard to understand.
So I created The Circle Line to take the world of therapy online, making it less expensive, less opaque and less exclusive. It puts it out there in a way that helps give therapy a trustworthy and normalised place in our lives. The Circle is at heart a platform for professional talk therapy and self-development. It matches you with a suitable therapist by asking simple but insightful questions, and when you’re ready you book, pay and talk all online. It’s simple, affordable and accessible.
We understand that for some the idea of “starting therapy” can seem a little daunting. We also understand that some people would just like a session or two to help them find their way right now. And our approach is always to make working with a professional as aﬀordable as possible. So, we oﬀer an intro session for just
£25. It’s a chance to dip your toe in the water and see if it might be for you.
It takes some bravery to take a look at yourself and your life. It is also an enormously enriching process – one that is so fundamentally human that once you’ve started it you may well wonder how you survived for so long without it. For when you’re ready, self-awareness, self-development, self-care, becomes a way of life. For you are your life.
By Philippa Richardson – CEO of The Circle Line