Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Richmond wellbeing service - introductory session experience

So last Friday I went for my introduction session at the Richmond Wellbeing Service. 

As a quick recap, this was the 3rd NHS service that I was referred to after I went to my GP to get help with my disordered eating. My case was not severe enough for the eating disorders clinic, which I completely understood, and I was then referred to the Community Mental Health Team, which wouldn’t take me either. I was pointed in the direction of the Wellbeing Service, who gave me an initial assessment, but were honest and said they didn’t provide treatment for eating disorders. Still, they wanted to help, and invited me along to one of their introduction sessions.

They run 3 introduction sessions a week, each for 25 people, with the aim of explaining what disorders they treat, introducing Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and the different media in which they provide this, and finally giving some initial, quick ways of coping with disordered feelings straight away. I was shocked by the volume of people they had coming to their introduction sessions, but as they said, 1 in 5 people at any time are experiencing issues with their mental health.

I was much more nervous attending the session than I thought I would be. I guess growing up you never really picture yourself ending up in a situation where you’re going to find out about a therapy to do with a mental health issue! However the session was very welcoming, put no pressure on you to say anything, and felt incredibly confidential. 

The Wellbeing Service primarily deals with: 
- Low mood
- Various types of anxiety
- Phobias
- Stress
- Self-esteem
- Long-term health conditions

They provide CBT through a variety of services: computer-based therapy, phone sessions, group sessions, one-to-ones etc. but they only will you provide you with what they know to be effective for your condition. For example, they know that for some conditions at certain levels of severity there is evidence that group therapy is more effective than individual therapy. On the other hand, for post-traumatic stress disorder, they know that group therapy won’t work, and that one-to-ones are the only really effective treatment. For me this was a great balance between having sufficient bandwidth to get high numbers of patients through the service, but also making sure that each individual gets the most effective treatment for them.

After explaining the service the practitioner discussed how feelings, behaviours, thoughts and physical symptoms all interact and impact upon one another. She then moved on to helpful control techniques that we could all leave and use straight away. One of the ones I really liked was “worry time”. Particularly aimed for anxiety and stress sufferers, this got people to define a set time in the day to deal with any worries you have. So if you have a worry in the morning, you write it down and say you’ll deal with it at worry time later in the day. This helps you feel reasured that you will deal with the problems, assists you in getting on wth your normal life, and often, when it comes to your “worry time”, that issue may not seem as concerning as it initially did. As I’ve said before, I love a list and planning, so I could see this working really well for me and my day-to-day anxieties (I don’t have any serious anxiety difficulties, but we all have things we start to worry about on a daily basis!).

As you've probably been able to tell, they're not set up for dealing with eating disorders so it's not really a service that can help me. Still, I found the session really interesting: 

- It demonstrated to me how I think the NHS needs to work and the services that they need to providing to communities
- I picked up some useful skills for dealing with day-to-day anxiety
- I did feel more positive coming out of the session: it was nice to be in a caring envionrment, and there were aspects that I could relate to and therefore helped me feel supported
- My Psychologist side loved it! I learnt a bit more about CBT, and some other cool facts such as that lower back pain can often occur alongside low mood! So if you treat your depression you may be able to get rid of your back pain - amazing!

If you live in the Richmond borough and think you’d benefit from the Richmond Wellbeing Service, then see their website. You can self-refer, rather than having to go through your GP (although this is also an option) and you can find the form for this online too.

I'm going to carry on looking at some private therapy options, which I'll obviously keep you up-to-date with :)

Have you ever used a Wellbeing service? What were your experiences?

Have a fab day!

E x 

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