A record number of people have made a recovery from mental ill health after receiving NHS talking therapy last year according to a national report on psychological therapy services published last week.
The report published by NHS Digital shows that nationally, sixty five percent (65%) of those who have used NHS talking therapies had experienced an improvement in their condition as a result of receiving talking therapies and just under half (49.3%) of people have made a recovery from depression or anxiety, which is a 7% increase compared to the period of 2012-2013, when records for this service began.
Locally, talking therapies are provided by the ‘Living Well’ service which is funded by Blackburn with Darwen and East Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Groups and is delivered in partnership by Lancashire Women’s Centres and Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust’s Mindsmatter Service, with services covering Blackburn and East Lancashire.
The service consists of a team of psychological wellbeing practitioners and therapists who support people in groups and 1-1 sessions. The service is based in GP practices and other community settings which means that it is easily accessible for people throughout the area. The service can help people cope with and manage mild to moderate anxiety or depression, panic attacks, bereavement and loss, work related stress, confidence, poor sleep and adjustment issues for period of change such as retirement, redundancy or disability. The service also helps those suffering from pre and post natal depression, trauma, phobias and relationships issues.
More recently the NHS in Blackburn with Darwen and East Lancashire has been offering talking therapies to help people manage the psychological and emotional impact of long term health conditions such as COPD, pain, and diabetes. Treatments may be delivered as part of a group, online or on a personal one to one basis. Once an assessment has been completed a therapist will speak to a patient about treatment options. Patients are able to self-refer and will receive an assessment without needing to see their GP first.
Dr Rakesh Sharma, GP lead for mental health said: “It is always better to talk about your problems than it is to bottle them up and suffer in silence. A problem shared is a problem halved and talking therapies are a tried and tested way that can help people to get back in control of their lives and feel happier and more confident. You don’t need to see your GP to access this service you can just ring the service and arrange an initial assessment. It is a fabulous, free and effective service with many people already benefiting from it.”
“We know that mental health and physical health and wellbeing are closely linked and there is clear evidence that having a condition like diabetes, long term pain or COPD markedly increases the risk of a mental health problem like anxiety or depression. If you have a long term health condition and this is having a negative impact on your mental health, you can get talking therapies to help.”
Staff and patients can be seen talking about the Living Well service, and how it has benefited them here: https://youtu.be/cydt8n87NGo
People who are concerned about their mental well being, can contact the Living Well service direct. Services are provided by Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust or the Lancashire Women’s Centres, as detailed below.
Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust – you can telephone the service or complete the online self-referral form using the details below. Telephone: 01254 226007, Mon-Fri: 9am-5pm or complete the online self-referral form at: https://gateway.mayden.co.uk/referralv2/07681012-dcbe-4194-acf6-e09a9ce2929d
Lancashire Womens Centres – you can either walk in, telephone or email the service using the details below. They will also be able to advise on other groups that you can join to socialise and make new friends.
Accrington Centre: 21-23 Blackburn Rd, Accrington, BB5 1HF Tel. 01254 871771
Burnley Centre: 04 Nicholas St, Burnley, BB11 2EU Tel. 01282 429672 Email: email@example.com
“I received an ME (myalgic encephalomyelitis, or chronic fatigue syndrome) diagnosis some time ago and was recently diagnosed with fibromyalgia which left me feeling really low and anxious. I had an assessment and explained that because of my physical conditions and how I was feeling I had stopped all the hobbies that I had previously enjoyed, such as going running, to the gym and socialising. I was also anxious about returning to work and leaving my children in someone else’s care. I found the support the service gave me really helpful and my therapist has been brilliant at putting me at ease from our very first meeting. We worked through ‘worry’ techniques and challenging negative thoughts and some self-care techniques such as relaxation, delivering psycho-education to overcome this”.
“I contacted the service as I was feeling depressed and arranged to have 1:1 support as well as attend group sessions. I’ve made lots of friends, and shared my experiences. I wasn’t having a good time with my thoughts, they were making me anxious and depressed and I didn’t know what to do. I was introduced to a feeling diary which helped me manage my thoughts. The pain management course was illuminating, because for the first time I realised that the thoughts were attached to the pain I was feeling, and I could then manage those thoughts. Little things have helped like doing exercise and sharing my experiences with others, as well as listening to theirs. Somehow just telling people in a safe environment what you are going through can be helpful, and then hearing others’ stories helps you understand that you are not alone, and what you are going through is not unusual.
“I realised that everyone has problems or worries. My problems always seemed to the worst or the only problems and then through this course I realised that everyone has problems and they are all pretty similar. It’s good to know that – you think it’s all you with the problems but everyone has problems and they are all manageable too. As well as telling your story, and listening to others, I have learned to relax using simple relaxation techniques like guided imagery, breathing and mindfulness. It has made a big difference to me.
“As a result of this course, I now feel more in control and I feel that I can manage my thoughts better, I don’t bottle up my problems, I talk about them and I deal with them or get help if I need to. I am also now actively seeking work, volunteering and attending courses which was something I couldn’t do before”.
Maryam (not her real name) recently underwent a four-week Mindsmatter course that has helped her with her depression:
“I’ve had a tough time over the past few years. A few years ago we lost our daughter. She had never been ill and was in the prime of her life. She was about 30 years old and died while abroad where she had gone to work. She had been to university and did really well. She got a first class degree and then went on to do an MA as well. She was bright and was our eldest and only daughter. She was the big sister to our two younger sons. After she passed away, we were left very upset and missed her a lot.
“As a result, we went through a very bad patch. My husband was also hurt, but he managed to pull through whereas I became depressed. We carried on as much as we could. My doctor was concerned and he wanted to give me tranquilisers to help me along, but that was not something that I wanted to do. It was then, when I was at such a low ebb in my life, that I read about the Blackburn with Darwen Women’s Centre and so I visited them.
“When I got there, I found people ready to help me. They could relate to me as an individual, as a woman, as someone from an Asian background and as a Muslim. They really helped me and it was suggested Mindsmatter course. The course was great, it helped me to come out of the depression and look at life in a different way.
“It also helped me to meet other people and led me to take part in some voluntary work, such as helping people with dementia. I had worked in a special needs school before as a teaching assistant and I am a qualified nursery nurse by profession. I was thinking of giving up my work, but the course helped me to overcome my feelings and remain active.
“The Mindsmatter course was really good. It was held in a group setting. There was a mix of people from different ethnic backgrounds who really helped me a lot. The people delivering the course were also very helpful; they adapted themselves to meet our needs. There were some participants who didn’t speak English well, so the group was good in that the course leaders helped them with communicating.
“After four weeks, my family noticed a difference. When I came home, my husband and sons noticed a huge difference. I was now looking and feeling a lot happier. This also made them feel a lot happier and they were keen to motivate me to go and continue on with the course.
“I would say to people out there who need support, but aren’t getting the support, that there will always be people out there who can help us and recommend things. Be persistent and seek help.”
D, 54, is from Darwen. Five years ago, he developed a pain in his knees that forced him to leave work. This is his story:
“I originally came into contact with the Mindsmatter Service after being referred to them by my doctor. This was back in 2015. You see, I have a condition called Osgood-Schlatter disease which is a common cause of knee pain in growing adolescents. Most young people grow out of it, but I’m one of the few who still have the condition in adulthood.
“The pain I suffer is in my knees. It’s like having a bad toothache, something you cannot imagine. However, it is focused on your knee and is permanent. I struggle to walk and cannot go too far. I used to be an assistant printer and had to give up work because of the pain. I used to play a lot of football when I was young and this has contributed to my condition. People who don’t have pain like this just cannot understand what people like me go through.
“I underwent a Cognitive Behavioural Therapy course with Mindsmatter back in 2015 as I was feeling suicidal and anxious because of my condition. I had given up work and things were very difficult for me then. I had depression and the course helped me deal with everything. “As my knees continued hurting, dealing with the pain remained difficult. I’m on a lot of medication and hadn’t been sleeping enough. I was getting one-hour sleep at night and so my doctor referred me to Mindsmatter again to help me with this. This was towards the end of last year. He put me forward for the Pain Management course, which has really helped me a lot. By the end of the eight weeks, I was sleeping four hours continuously, which is good for me.
“Having been through the Pain Management course at Mindsmatter, I would recommend it to other people as it has helped me a lot. I have tried other things but that has not helped. Not being able to sleep is bad. If you’re not sleeping enough then you tend to become very irritated and everything becomes a chore. My family were treading on eggshells around me. It was very difficult for all of us. Since I came into touch with Mindsmatter, I have pain but because I’m getting sleep at night I’m not as irritable as I used to be.
“The Mindsmatter service has been good for me. I no longer attend courses, but I do attend the monthly support group. It’s good to meet people who are in a similar situation to me. Meeting people in a similar situation is comforting and helps you provide support to other people and get support from them as well – we bounce off each other. It’s also been a good opportunity to meet people and we’ve become friends as a result.
“Meeting people like this and the course have enabled me to keep focused and change the way you approach pain and be more positive. You’ve got nothing to lose trying it. There’s so much you get out of it – the sleep and the relaxation. I would say there’s something in there for everyone.
“It’s helped me change my character a bit. My family is now treating me as they used to before. Before they used to be very cautious with me.”