Nearly two months ago I was pretty desperate and had been waiting 3 weeks for an appointment with the community mental health team (CMHT) after my GP had urgently referred me but I had heard nothing. I was very unwell and felt that my thoughts and feelings were building up like a pressure cooker waiting to explode. I really didn’t know where or who to turn to. I am lucky as I have very supportive family and friends but it isn’t always easy to tell them my darkest thoughts and when I am in the depths of depression feeling a burden to them is always uppermost in my mind.
I was getting to the point where I knew I needed to get some professional help myself as not only did I need an outlet for my thoughts whilst in this crisis I also wanted to build on my ‘Wellness Toolbook’ for the future. I am lucky that through Twitter and my blog I have met some amazing people who not only offer empathy and support but also have a vast amount of knowledge at their disposal. One such person asked if I had heard of Online Counselling and recommended an organisation to me. I was immediately interested and went about finding out more information.
The first thing that sprung to mind was the accreditation it had and whether the site was reputable and so I was pleased to see that it carried the logo for the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy. I spoke with my family and friends who were sceptical at first but after I spoke to my GP who was very positive I decided to give it a go. I was impressed by the website, security features and also the options available for counselling which include Skype and Instant Messaging.
I went about carefully choosing a counsellor and then had an introductory session which was very useful. I opted for Instant Messaging mainly because the anonymity that it provided at a time when I was hugely anxious was reassuring. I was also very frightened of seeing someone face to face as was feeling completely let down by mental health services and worried that the anxiety caused by meeting a new professional for the first time might be too much for me so this sounded a good option.
I didn’t want this to replace the CMHT appointment that I think I need and am entitled to ( I am still waiting nearly 3 months on) but I also couldn’t sit back and do nothing when I am so determined to help myself where I can. I wonder whether for some people ( and I realise this wouldn’t be a viable option for everyone) this could be offered on the NHS? I don’t for one moment suggest that it should replace services already on offer but with waiting lists so long this could be a huge lifeline to some people experiencing mental health problems.
I would also add that I am paying for this treatment myself and well aware that I am in a fortunate position to be able to do so. Many others I’m sure, would like to pay for treatment themselves due to the lack of NHS services and the long waiting lists but obviously could not afford to.
This is my first blog on the subject and I hope to be able to help raise the profile of online counselling and the huge benefits for people like myself.