• Ollie Roffey - The MA

Mental Health Mind Map Deep Dive #1 (Self-Help)

Welcome to the first of the “deep dives” in to the Self-Help/Clinical Support bubble of the the Mental Health Mind Map (if you’re not sure what that is check out the Mindmap blog here). As I wrote this blog I realised how much I want to say about this topic so it's going be broken in to two blog posts, the first on self-help (this one) and then followed shortly after by the Clinical Support blog.

Before taking the dive, I just wanted to make it clear that I am by no means an expert here, and I am just sharing some of my experiences. I’ve found from chatting with people, on this topic, that what works for one person may not work for another and I think that’s why sharing our experiences is so important.

Carl Rogers (read his book A Way of Being) said, “Growth occurs when individuals confront problems, struggle to master them, and through that struggle develop new aspects of their skills, capacities, views about life.”

I believe this sums up what opportunities self-help/clinical support allows us to access. Far from being a weakness (as out-dated stigma would have us believe) the courage to confront our struggles, grow with them and learn new skills to master them is a brave step. So here goes...

I know for me, and from what I gather from talking with others who’ve gone through similar stuff it can be daunting/scary to talk about your feelings with someone else (especially a stranger) and therefore often the first place we turn to might be the internet or any other information sources that are accessible without the need of others.

Commonly this is referred to as “Self-Help”, I think that term can seem quite lonely and I wish it was called the “Help From Others Who Have Been Through This” section…but I guess that’s not as catchy! Either way, if you engage in self-help, know that you're not by yourself.

Self-Help (add I'm sure you'll help add to this) has four main parts:

  • Books,

  • Video/Podcasts,

  • Apps,

  • Online Courses

So lets look at each of these areas one at a time.

There are so many self-help books out there and I have in no way, shape or form read them all. Let’s face it when you’re feeling down reading can be an almost insurmountable task, so I’m not saying go out and read all these books here.

There are just a lot of awesome people out there who have shared the loneliest and darkest parts of themselves, as well as books based on mountains of research, so anything you can pick up will go some way to expanding that Mental Health Toolbox.

Here's 5 to get the ball rolling (but please share some of your favourites):

  • Overcoming Depression (Paul Gilbert) – Very first mental health book I ever got, mainly descriptive about a therapy called CBT but helps explain why we as humans get depression. Not a page turner but good for the why?

  • The Happiness Trap (Russ Harris) – This was recommended to be by my psycho-therapist and I have used it both as a self-help tool and a guide for some of my face-to-face therapy sessions. Based on a therapy called Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).

  • Sane New World (Ruby Wax) – A charismatic and engaging writer who shares those thoughts that many of us have but never say. Helps throw open the door to mental health and shows how we can all walk in to the Sane New World together.

  • Furiously Happy (Jenny Lawson) – Not just insightful but ‘laugh out loud’ funny by a woman who has made the very best of a struggle with mental illness.

  • The Idle Traveller (Dan Kieran) - Not so much mental health but I think the intent behind this book about slow travel helps enrich all aspects of our lives.

So with self-help; books is a good place to start but videos is sometimes easier when you're at your lowest ebb. So you could take a look at some of these YouTube channels:

Depression to Expression – Scott Ste Marie (Quirky, fun, honest insight in to mental health)

Infinite Waters – Ralph Smart (Psychologist, Life Coach and a whole lot more)

There are a whole mountain of mental health channels out there but these would be a good start.

The next brick in the self-help house is Apps, the two I have used are mainly focused around meditation/mindfullness (and when the deep dive blog about that is written you can read more here). For now I'd definitely recommend one of these two apps:

  • HeadSpace App - Learn to meditate with easy to access lessons every day. With a beginners course and then courses for different struggles you might be facing (Anxiety, Work Stress etc.)

  • Making Sense App - Similar to Headspace but some interesting video lessons and built on the unique skill set of Sam Harris (who I bang on about way too much, but this is really good).

These apps often have a monthly fee but if you're struggling financially I've heard that both will work something out for you if you email them (Sam Harris promotes this on his app).

Now the final self-help tool is online courses, I think this could be called the “half way self-help house” as it is almost like you are being supported by the experts who build the courses. One type of therapy which I believe is extremely beneficial is called Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) – CBT or variants of it are often done under the guidance of a therapist but there are plenty of online courses out there that can provide you with a good foundation for learning CBT skills. I’ve only tried one and it was great:

  • This Way Up - It is broken in to six lessons that aim to help you learn some of the skills of CBT. It includes homework (don’t let that put you off) and lots of great resources. As a bonus it has various mood scoring tools which you input before each lesson allowing you to gauge how you’re doing. Follow link here.

So that's a wrap but the Clinical Support (and other) deep dives related to the Mental Health Mindmap will be available very soon but I also want this to be a collaborative effort with the ability to adapt this post as time goes by to make it a proper resource for those looking for help. Please share your own self-help tools and tell me something blindingly obvious I've missed. Thanks for reading :)

Please share your own tips and self-help strategies. We’re all in this together 😊

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