Jo Gill is Clinical Lead for Birmingham Healthy Minds, and talks here about the support available for people over 16 in Birmingham who are experiencing common mental health conditions such as low mood, anxiety and depression
Today, the third Monday in January is often referred to as ‘Blue Monday’, a day which is supposedly the ‘most depressing day of the year’. This is based on factors such as weather conditions, debt levels, time since Christmas and time since failing our new year’s resolutions.
Evidence tells us that there is no such thing as one most depressing day of the year and it’s important to recognise that, while all of us sometimes feel sad or anxious from time to time, there is a difference between those temporary feelings and mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety that impact people’s day to day lives all year round.
While acknowledging this, ‘Blue Monday’ is however an opportunity to raise awareness of mental health and highlight the support available if you are experiencing low mood, anxiety or depression. One in six people are likely to encounter a common mental health condition such as depression or anxiety at some point in their life. While they are referred to as common mental health conditions they can have a major impact on daily life.
People can often feel tense, restless and have trouble concentrating because they worry too much. They could feel deeply afraid that something bad is going to happen or that they won’t be in control of a situation or themselves. If you are depressed you might find it hard to motivate yourself to do routine things like get out of bed, whereas if you are anxious you may struggle to manage your excessive energy and racing thoughts. Around half of people diagnosed with anxiety also develop depression, and vice versa.
Birmingham Healthy Minds is an NHS talking therapies service that offers advice information and brief psychological therapies for people aged 16 and over who are often feeling anxious, low in mood or depressed.
This includes older people, who just last week were being encouraged by NHS England and Age UK to ditch the ‘stiff upper lip’ and seek help for mental health conditions rather than feeling that ‘they should just get on with it’. New data has revealed that more than six in 10 people in the UK aged 65 or over have experienced depression and anxiety and of these, more than half didn’t seek help. When older people do seek psychological help for their difficulties their recovery rate is higher than average national levels.
We offer treatment options that are selected based on the needs of each individual. These include talking therapy, guided self-help with support, wellbeing workshops, therapy groups or one to one sessions.
All our interventions are based on equipping people with strategies to help them manage their thoughts and behaviour. We take a holistic approach, offering a variety of psychological interventions to suit individual needs, such as mindfulness, compassion focused therapy, interpersonal therapy and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).
In 2019, Carol*, told us how Birmingham Healthy Minds had helped her when she was experiencing feelings of anxiety and depression:
“I just didn’t feel in control and felt quite down. I’d lost some of my confidence and at times I felt like I was hitting my head against a brick wall...
“I had one-to-one sessions with Birmingham Healthy Minds and this worked well for me. The sessions helped me to address how I was feeling and I learned about breathing techniques and mindfulness and was encouraged to keep a diary so that I was more aware of what made me feel anxious. I felt like I was taking back control and realised that I needed to value myself and my time…I had around 10 sessions…I worked with my practitioner to put together a forward planner with advice on how I would deal with things if I do begin to feel anxious or depressed…
“I found Birmingham Healthy Minds very welcoming and the sessions gave me space away from family and friends – somewhere totally neutral, without judgement where I could share my true feelings…
“I was surprised that this had happened to me, but I knew I needed support. People have misconceptions about speaking to organisations like Birmingham Healthy Minds about their thoughts and feelings, but we are lucky to have this provision in place. If people feel as I did, I would definitely recommend that they contact the service.”
There are several ways to get in touch with Birmingham Healthy Minds:
- Refer yourself by calling 0121 301 2525, texting ‘BHM’ to 60777 or visiting our website at www.birminghamhealthyminds.org where you can also find many of our self-help and advice booklets on anxiety, depression and other common mental health conditions.
- Your GP can refer you to us
- You can attend our walk-in service which operates across Birmingham from different locations, please call 0121 301 2525 for more information or visit our website.
*Carol’s name has been changed to maintain confidentiality