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Effective support of mental ill health is more than counselling

Mental Health Blog 11.4.19

Approximately 1 in 4 of us likely to experience a mental health problem each year1 which is only set to grow in the next decade; the Mental Health Network, NHS confederation, forecast that 2 million more UK adults will have a mental health problem by 2030.

So, small businesses owners can’t ignore the mental wellbeing of themselves and their employees but how can they know what would help?

"One-size-fits-all” doesn’t work

Mental health conditions, symptoms and severities can be wide-ranging, from stress and anxiety to severe depression and psychosis. Individuals themselves are unlikely to know what type of support would help them best, nor will even the most experienced employers.

Most people may believe that a talking therapy, such as counselling, is the main solution to supporting mental ill health, but this won’t be right for everyone. In FSB Care's experience, the most important thing is to have a clinical assessment from a specialist mental health nurse or doctor. This will determine the most appropriate course of action and a plan can be put in place which may include one of a variety of psychological therapies.

Tailored support

There is a wide range of psychological therapies endorsed by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and the NHS, but waiting lists are usually very long. Whilst individuals can arrange therapies themselves, it’s important to know what would be most relevant for each individual. Also vitally important, is a well-matched therapist that has the right experience and approach to enable a good rapport with the patient.

Once an individual has taken the initial step of accepting they need help and reaching out for it (which can take weeks or more), then it stands to reason that getting the right support is vital.

Often we receive calls asking for counselling or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) but the nurse often suggests that something else would be more beneficial.

Lesser known therapies can be more beneficial

Counselling or CBT may well be the most appropriate therapy for an individual, however other therapies might include:

  • Eye Movement Desensitisation & Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR): EMDR helps create the connections between the brain’s memory networks, enabling it to process a traumatic memory in a very natural way.
  • Hypnotherapy: Hypnosis is a natural phenomenon, or state of mind, which allows positive change, recovery and healing processes (mental, emotional and physical) to occur more easily than the normal busy ‘daily life’ brain can often allow.
  • Art therapy: Art therapy is a form of psychotherapy that uses art media as its primary mode of expression and communication. Within this context, art is not used as diagnostic tool but as a medium to address emotional issues which may be confusing and distressing.
  • Drama therapy: Drama therapy is a form of psychological therapy in which all of the performance arts are utilised within the therapeutic relationship enabling the client to explore difficult and painful life experiences through an indirect approach.
  • Solution-focused brief therapy, family therapy and life coaching are all alternative forms of talking therapies with specific approaches that are appropriate to mental health conditions.

Access to support

There are a number of ways that larger employers can offer access to such support, including directly with specialists, via group risk schemes, employee assistance programmes or private medical insurance.

However, good support for mental health is also available to small businesses; many insurance policies such as Life, critical illness and income protection include good quality support services at no additional charge.

FSB Care, available free of charge to FSB members, provides all of the support discussed in this article through a dedicated registered mental health nurse.

(1) McManus, S., Meltzer, H., Brugha, T. S., Bebbington, P. E., & Jenkins, R. (2009). Adult psychiatric morbidity in England, 2007: results of a household survey. The NHS Information Centre for health and social care.

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