Steve Skinner: Be kind to yourself and ask for help. Mental health services are here to support you

Published on: 22nd May 2020

Steve Skinner.jpegIt’s Mental Health Awareness Week this week (18-21 May). The theme is #KindnessMatters. We urge people to be kind to themselves and seek support if they’re struggling.

The current situation has caused many changes to our lives. It is understandable that we are experiencing changes to our mood. Many people have reported that their daily activity levels have reduced, resulting in low mood, disappointment from not achieving tasks and becoming overly concerned with negative thoughts. Many of our normal strategies for dealing with these concerns, such as seeking reassurance from others and distracting ourselves, are not as available to us now. Those with issues such as depression and/or anxiety may find that they are experiencing changes to their condition due to disturbances to their routine.

Two years ago, steps2change started working with a range of physical health specialists. The team adapted therapy for people with various long-term conditions. For example, diabetes, cardiac rehabilitation and respiratory conditions. If you have a long-term health condition, the need to shield or having to change the way you access routine support, this can further increase stress and worry. Our staff work with these conditions and we are here for you.

If you have diabetes, you may experience distress in a number of ways. For example, depression is the most commonly experienced mood problem in people diagnosed with diabetes. It is often difficult for people to distinguish between physical and emotional symptoms. 

Depression is characterised by low mood, loss of interest or pleasure, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, disturbed sleep or appetite, low energy, and poor concentration. Living with depression can have a serious impact on your wellbeing and your ability to self-manage your diabetes. Adjusting to new lifestyle changes and the fear of experiencing long-term complications can lead to increased uncertainty. This can result in feeling overwhelmed and anxious.

steps2change also works with people who have experienced cardiac illness. Prior to the social distancing restrictions, we routinely supported cardiac rehabilitation sessions. Learning how to distinguish between cardiac and non-cardiac symptoms can be helpful in reducing anxiety. We support people to do this and help those who are experiencing low mood or trauma-based symptoms.

Being diagnosed with a respiratory condition such as COPD or asthma can lead to increased levels of stress. Learning how to manage your condition can be difficult. It is normal to experience increased anxiety or feel panicky if you become breathless. We can help you to learn how to manage anxiety and panic symptoms. This can be empowering and help you to do more activities you enjoy.

The good news is that there are lots of evidence-based therapies. For example, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, counselling for depression, and interpersonal therapy. These are effective in reducing stress, anxiety and depression. They can be delivered over the phone or internet. In the last few weeks, steps2change have continued to conduct thousands of therapy sessions. We also offer our group programs for depression and anxiety online. Many service users are currently opting to access treatment in this way.

To access steps2change, you do not need to visit a healthcare professional. You can visit our website and complete the online self-referral form. Alternatively, you can call 0303 123 4000 to request a form. Once we have your details, we will be in touch to arrange an assessment appointment. Please do not suffer in silence. Be kind to yourself and ask for support if you think you need it. Our services are here to support you.

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