My name is Amy, and I’m a Community Activist with Mind.
Since the start of the pandemic, the NHS has been giving a lot more of its support by telephone or online, rather than face-to-face. This was put in place to help stop the spread of coronavirus.
While some people have really benefited from these remote services, others have struggled to use them, or, like me, have found that not all the services work for them in this way.
I have struggled with my mental health since the age of fifteen, as a result of falling victim to bullying. I began to self-harm during this time, and I was also diagnosed with generalised anxiety disorder. Fortunately I was able to get support, including in person Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), which I found engaging and stimulating for my mental health.
However, when lockdown came around, I felt as though there was nowhere or no one to turn to. I started to struggle with intrusive thoughts that I had never experienced before. This is when I decided to reach out for help.
I was offered both online CBT and counselling. Having CBT online through a chat feature was obviously a lot different to being face to face with a counsellor. I felt as though the counsellor didn’t understand what I was going through – imagine speaking to someone and they have no facial expressions, no empathy, nothing. It wasn’t a fault of the counsellor at all, it was simply just the fact that this was all happening through a screen.
On a more positive note, the counselling that I was offered over the phone was much more suited to me, and I have definitely found it to be helpful. Although it was still somewhat different to face to face support, I could still connect with someone and know that they were understanding me and listening to me. Counselling has massively changed my life over the past few months, and I encourage anyone struggling right now to reach out and speak up.
But talking to someone over the phone or online isn’t for everyone. If many mental health services are going to keep being run like this, we need to find out more about what is and isn’t working for people, so we can make sure everyone gets the right support for them. That’s why I have shared my experience with you, and with Mind.
Thanks for reading my story. I will be in touch again soon to let you know how you can share your own experiences and support Mind’s research.