In England woman are almost twice as likely to be diagnosed with anxiety disorders than men, but of the 6233 suicides recorded in the UK in 2013 for people aged 15 and older, 78% were male and 22% female. We take a look at some of the online resources available with Gary Lewis of Malvern mental health charity Positive Thoughts.
What is Positive Thoughts?
Gary: We’re a small independent charity, a user led group of people who may be experiencing mental problems. But it’s difficult to put into words what we do because the general public likes simplistic answers: you do an intervention, someone gets better. We’re a friendly group where people can come in and over time express their difficulties. Time: that’s the essential thing. We’re not a medical centre and anyone who comes isn’t a patient. Believe it or not we never take medical histories. As people gain confidence they open up.
What should you keep in mind when looking for help online?
Gary: When looking at mental health websites think …
What? Has it got authority with a small ‘a’? There are plenty of charlatans out there.
Who? Who is producing the site? Is it from the NHS for example, or a statutory body, or a reputable UK charity?
Where? Is it a UK organisation?
When? Is it up to date?
Why? Why are they producing it? Do they want to charge you for information?
Is it safe to look for help online if you are suffering from mental health issues?
Gary: We’re confident these sites are not going to do you any harm, but if you are feeling suicidal you should seek immediate help from your GP, or dial 999. There are people who can help you get through these feelings.
Here are three sites Gary recommends:
Healthy Minds Worcester
Gary: Healthy Minds offers access for online therapies such as Moodmaster plus online CCBT which is a tool some people might find useful if you don’t want to go to a face to face session – which is a problem many men have. You can also phone to get an initial assessment with a professional therapist.
Mental Health Foundation
Gary: this site can be tricky to navigate if you’re not used to it – I use the search box to look for search for up to date information about mental health conditions. They also do great podcasts.
Gary: ecouch is an Australian website by the National University of Australia. It’s a self-help interactive program with modules for depression, generalised anxiety and worry, social anxiety, relationship breakdown, and loss and grief.