Flu – should my child or I be vaccinated?

As the cold weather approaches, so do all the winter germs, from our common coughs and colds to the nastier illnesses like flu .

flu virus

WHY IS FLU MORE COMMON IN WINTER MONTHS?

The very name for flu “influenza” is an Italian word that some historians think originated in the mid-18th century as “influenza di freddo” meaning “influence of the cold.”

Over the years different theories have been put forward such as the colder weather lowering our immune systems (perhaps through lower vitamin D), or that people are more likely to stay indoors where they will be in closer contact with others carrying germs – the overcrowding theory.

It is now believed that the main reason for flu epidemics in winter months is that the flu virus is more stable and stays in the air longer when the air is cold and dry. Droplets aerosol more easily when the conditions are dry and so spread more easily.

HOW DO I CATCH FLU?

People with flu can spread it to others up to 6 feet away. It spread by droplets from our mouths and noses when we cough, sneeze or talk. These can then land in the noses and mouths of people nearby or be inhaled.

Another way is through touching surfaces that may have droplets containing flu virus and then touching our mouth or nose. The flu virus can survive on surfaces for around 24 hours.

Staying away from those with the virus (where possible), cleaning surfaces with disinfectant, and washing hands in soapy water or an alcohol based hand gel will help reduce our risk of getting it.

HOW LONG IS IT CONTAGIOUS FOR?

Flu is contagious 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5 to 7 days after. Some people may have the virus but have no symptoms and therefore be transmitting the virus without knowing.

Symptoms and signs and prevention

These are covered well here by NHS Choices.

WHY SHOULD I BE CONCERNED? I HAVE NEVER HAD FLU, NOR HAS MY CHILD

Flu can cause a very unpleasant illness and for some it can increase the risk of developing more serious illnesses such as bronchitis and pneumonia, or can make existing conditions worse. In the worst cases, it can result in a stay in hospital or even death.

This year there are particular concerns about a severe flu epidemic following the recent “Aussie flu” which has been one of the worst epidemics they have had in the last 50 years.

FLU VACCINE

The flu vaccine is made in advance of the season and contains vaccines against the predicted circulating strains. Over the past 10 years there has reportedly been a good match, but given that viruses change, it is not 100% effective and won’t protect against other viruses for coughs and colds. It does however offer the best protection we have available.

Public Health England have produced 2 good leaflets on :

Both are worth a read if you are debating what to do.

Possible side effects of the vaccines are listed for children here and for adults here

My take-away points when thinking about whether to get my own children vaccinated were:

  • Reduced chance of spreading the illness within my own family – less likely for elderly relatives to get it or for us to need to take time off work or be unable to look after our kids
  • In pilot areas where all primary school children were vaccinated, there was less flu in all age groups of the population so benefiting the wider community.
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Emotional health – Getting help


Do you need urgent help?


Most people feel in emotional crisis at some time in their lives. For some this passes quite quickly but for others the feeling lasts for a while. If the feeling is overwhelming or you feel so distressed that you have thoughts of harming yourself or you feel you are at risk of harming others then you need to seek help urgently.

If you don’t feel you can keep yourself safe right now, seek immediate help.

  • go to any hospital A&E department (sometimes known as the emergency department)
  • call 999 and ask for an ambulance if you can’t get to A&E
  • ask someone else to contact 999 for you or take you to A&E immediately

If you need some support right now, but don’t want to go to A&E, here are some other options for you to try:

  • contact the Samaritans on freephone 116 123, they’re open 24 hours and are there to listen
  • Contact your GP for an emergency appointment or if your GP surgery is closed call the out of hours team, NHS 111 , on 111


Need help and support?


Not at crisis point but suffering escalating or unmanageable stress, burnout, anxiety or depression

Seek professional help. This can be through your GP, a therapist or a psychiatrist.

They might suggest talking therapies and / or medication.

I have listed organisations and resources that can help here.

There are lots of free CBT resources on-line or in books.

Alternatively, call one of the helplines or attend a local Safe Haven to talk to someone face-to-face.


Worried about someone else?


See Mind’s pages on supporting someone else with suicidal feelings.


Safe havens


These are a safe and friendly places to talk to someone for emotional and mental health support if you (or the person that you are caring for) are experiencing a crisis. They also give you an opportunity to meet others that might be in a similar situation.

  • Guildford Safe Haven at Oakleaf Enterprise, 101 Walnut Tree Close, Guildford GU1 4UQ. Open daily 6pm-11pm including bank holidays
  • Woking Safe Haven, The Prop, 30 Goldsworth Road, Woking Gu21 6JT. Open 6pm-11pm Monday to Friday and 12.30pm -11pm weekends and bank holidays.

If you know of any useful resources on this topic, please do comment below or contact us here.

Copyright © Horsley Hub 2019
assorted nuts

Living with Peanut Allergy – a Personal Story

interview with a local mum by Dr Kate Little

My daughter was three years old when she was diagnosed with a peanut allergy.

It all started when we were on a family holiday in Ireland. I had eaten a bag of nuts when we stopped for a break on a family walk. I stroked her back and within minutes she was screaming in pain and had severe hives all over her skin. Skin prick tests and blood tests at the hospital confirmed peanut allergy and we were advised to avoid all nuts until she was older.

Every year since then, her allergy levels to peanut have been rising. She is now eight years old and they are now grade 6 (the highest level) so there is a real risk of a serious anaphylactic reaction if the allergen comes into contact with her mucus membranes (eyes, nose and mouth). Thankfully, when I ate nuts and touched her she only got a really nasty localised skin rash, which made her feel unwell and uncomfortable. Anaphylactic reactions are much more dangerous.

How has this affected her life?

Having such a severe allergy affects the whole family and we have to take numerous precautions in our day to day lives.

As well as avoiding all nuts, she now has to avoid any product that says, “may contain nuts”. This warning represents a real risk that there is a trace of nuts in the factory. For example, a factory that makes fruit and nut chocolate may clean its system and then make chocolate buttons. A trace of nuts may be present in the first few batches, but the consumer cannot know which batch they will get.

My daughter knows that she needs to wash her hands properly with soap before she eats anything and not to put things in her mouth (or up her nose!) if she doesn’t know what they are.

We carry the anaphylaxis kit everywhere we go and constantly check and double-check everything that we as a family consume.

When we fly, we have early boarding so that we can wipe surfaces down beforehand. You can never be sure that you will eradicate every potentially harmful thing, but you can only do your best.

She can’t eat anything in cafes and restaurants. A small thing like using the same tongs to pick up almond croissants and plain croissants, would be enough of a cross contamination to potentially cause a serious reaction.

At home it is easy to avoid nuts as we cook from scratch. On the plus side, it means that she eats less junk! It is trickier though, when she goes to other people’s houses. She just has to be really vigilant and we rely on people to decontaminate their home environments.

We always ask people whose homes she is visiting, to wipe all surfaces with antibacterial spray and make sure that everyone washes their hands properly with soap. This is enough to denature the protein.

It is also important to make sure that any dishes she is eating off, come straight out of the dishwasher, as otherwise dust from products containing nuts like muesli, may come into contact with something that she might put in her mouth. For example, my parents eat muesli that has hazelnuts & almonds in it. When the packet is closed, a dust is released, which can land on a glass or mug that she might later put in her mouth.

How has the nut allergy affected you?

I live my life on a knife-edge trying to manage the fear of something serious happening, whilst being aware that we can only do our best. I also find it hard to manage the social element and how easily parents or schools or my family might perceive me as being neurotic.

I try to make sure that when I talk to people about the precautions we need to take, I get my point across without spreading fear or panic that might make people stop listening, or stop trying, or exclude her. One of my biggest worries is that she doesn’t get invited to social events or on play dates, because it is too much responsibility.

Is your daughter aware of your concerns?

No I don’t think so. I think that we are lucky with her personality. At the moment it doesn’t seem to bother her that she is a bit different.

The allergy itself does frighten her though and this is getting more apparent the older she gets. The hospital have said that they will put more support in place for her as she gets older and have recommended some great on-line resources too.

We have learnt from some near misses that we all have to check what we are eating the whole time. For example, I once bought what I thought was some Kinnerton chocolate (which is always nut free) as a treat. My son (who was two years old at the time) had a meltdown when I didn’t check the ingredients because this is so ingrained in our routine. To pacify him I checked the packet and to my horror, it clearly said “Not suitable for nut allergy sufferers”. It turned out that it wasn’t Kinnerton chocolate at all, but another company that used similar packaging.

So this has wide reaching consequences for you all. That carries it’s own weightiness…

Yes, and I am the sort of person that cares far too much what other people think. I have to wrestle with knowing that this is the right thing to do for my daughter and the feeling that I don’t want to always ask the routine questions that are necessary for her safety, for fear of upsetting anyone. It is bizarre really that such trivial concerns go through my head when I am dealing with something as serious as this, although of course, when it comes to it, I will always put her health first.

It sounds uncomfortable

Yes, and I don’t want it to be uncomfortable for other people or to make them feel embarrassed. The more we do it though, the less that is apparent.

How has it been at school?

School has been more of a challenge than I thought, but I guess that the staff are learning at the same pace as everybody else.

Take for example the junk modelling they do in the classroom, which involves old packaging that people bring in from home. When she first started school, people were sending in packets from Bakewell tarts and Crunchy Nut Cornflakes, where there is a very high chance that dust from the nuts may be present and then transfer onto the kids’ hands.

School trips are also a challenge, so I usually go on the trips which the teachers seem to prefer. I can then make sure that surfaces are wiped down especially around where she is eating her lunch and that someone is sitting with her to remind her to wash her hands before she eats things.

My biggest fear about school is bullying. I know that’s a bit of a strong word, but that element really worries me, particularly when she goes to secondary school where everyone brings in his or her own lunches. For example, a boy at school recently said to her “I want to give you a nut to see what happens.” It took all my strength to stop myself from going to speak to that child and their parent. I had to reflect and remind myself that it is just kids. So the worry is real and that is scary.

I reassure myself that because she is so feisty that might keep any bullying at bay but then again, it might also attract it. We are lucky though that the year group that my daughter is in is generally a really caring bunch and they all look out for her.

If you are constantly on this knife-edge, managing 2 children and working full-time, how do you look after yourself?!

I don’t know. Sometimes I feel that this is what a nervous breakdown feels like. I’m holding it all together all the time. I can only describe it as being like a teddy bear holding in its stuffing while one little seam is going. If I let that seam go, then the whole lot is going to fall out. So I am constantly patching up, and patching up, and making sure that we are all fine.

If she was having anaphylactic reactions all the time, then my anxiety levels would be through the roof, but thankfully she isn’t, so we seem to have managed it well this far. The allergy specialist said to us the last time we were at hospital that we are the only family that she knows whose child has a Grade 6 allergy and hasn’t been in casualty or ICU with anaphylaxis regularly. So it makes us feel that whatever we are doing, we are doing it right and that is really empowering.

It sounds so hard and most people just won’t be aware of just how difficult this is for you. Thank you for sharing your story.

 

For more information on severe allergies, see the following resources:

  • Anaphyslaxis uk
  • Allergy uk – this is a telephone line for advice and safe airline travel
  • Facebook –it can be useful to join relevant groups, to post queries and seek recommendations.
  • Jexco.uk provides really helpful information on epipens and how to use them. There is a kids area with games that normalises it for the children.
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Re-charging at home

Our lives are often frenetic both at home and at work. The last person that we look after is usually our self. If we step back and consider what we might suggest to a friend or colleague, then our advice might be that in order to help others effectively, we first need to look after ourselves. We need to continually replenish our energy stores so that we have more to give for the next day and the next. The analogy of the oxygen mask on a plane.

So what strategies do YOU have to re-charge and re-energise outside work?

Please comment in the box below or share with me at kate@horsleyhub.com.

Your ideas will be put together in a post for a future newsletter.

Image from UNSPLASH
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Four Great Reasons to be Active

By Dr JULIET MCGRATTAN

We all know that doing exercise is good for us. Despite this, the Health Survey for England in 2016 tells us that 34% of men and 42% of women aren’t doing enough activity for good health. Why is it that exercise is so often seen as a chore and something that ends up on the bottom of our to do list?

Here are four great reasons to be active:

1. Better health. This might sound obvious but the power that exercise has to improve health is often hugely underestimated. Did you know that if you are regularly active throughout your life, you can reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 35 to 40%, your risk of Alzheimer’s disease by 20 to 30% and your risk of bowel cancer by as much as 50%? This means that we have the power to shape our own future health. When we’re young we tend not to think about these things but as we age, health issues do become more of a concern and it’s never too late to start becoming active and reaping some of these benefits.

2. Feel good factor. If you speak to someone who was previously inactive and became active, then you’ll find that one of the reasons they would never go back to a more sedentary lifestyle is simply because they feel so much better. You might think that you would feel more tired but your energy levels actually increase when you lead an active life. You sleep better, your concentration improves and you feel calmer. Stress and low mood are a common problem today and we know that exercise is a powerful tool for maintaining and improving mental health. You can expect a 20 to 30% reduction in your risk of depression if you keep active. Exercise helps both our physical and mental health.

3. Opens your world. Exercise can open up a whole new range of experiences and opportunities. From meeting new people and making new friends to exploring new areas and perhaps even travelling far and wide. You just never know where it will take you. Discovering a new path in your neighbourhood or feeling more a part of your local community can change how you feel about where you live. Learning what your body is capable of can change how you feel about yourself. Exercise can improve your self-esteem and self-confidence which then has a knock on effect to other areas of your life such as making you feel more empowered to take on challenges at work or within your family.

4. It’s fun. You might have grown up associating exercise with competitive sport at school and if you didn’t enjoy it then it can put you off for life. But there’s way more to exercise than feeling exhausted on a cross country run! Find something you like. If you want a new habit for life then it has to be enjoyable. Think back to when you were younger, what did you used to love doing? Chances are that if you can find a way to do it now, then you’ll love it all over again. Was it dance? Find an adult dance class or just crank up the stereo and dance around the kitchen. Was it football? There might be a local team, a walking football league or the opportunity to get active by coaching youngsters. Try new things and feel the boost that learning a new skill gives you. Above all, have fun with exercise.

Picture courtesy of PHE

These are four great reasons to be active and have you noticed they don’t include losing weight? We now understand that whilst some of the benefits of exercise are about any weight loss that it may cause in those who are overweight, lots of the benefits are entirely separate to what the scales tell you. You might not see your weight fall as you become more active but this doesn’t matter; it doesn’t mean it isn’t making you healthier. Exercise works by making you healthier from the inside out. It helps to reduce your visceral fat, this is the harmful fat around your internal organs. Visceral fat causes a slow inflammation in the body which we now know is one of the causes of the major diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cancer and depression. Exercise will work on this fat before it works on our spare tyres round our middle!

The other thing to bear in mind is that although each week we are aiming for 150 minutes of exercise that makes us feel out of breath, what we do the rest of the time is important too. Reducing how long we spend sitting is hugely important. We were designed to move and by breaking up our sitting time and moving around for a couple of minutes every half an hour, we can help to prevent the cells of our body being damaged by unspent energy.

So, keep moving, improve your health, feel better, open your world and above all, have FUN!

 

Dr Juliet McGrattan is a GP , mother and author of Sorted: The Active Woman’s Guide to Health. She works as a Clinical Champion for Physical Activity with PHE in the north-west of England and with 261 Fearless, a global women’s running network. 

You will be entered into a prize draw for a free copy of her book, Sorted, if you like this post. 

Find out more about Juliet and follow her blog here.

Featured image supplied by Gratisography
poppies funeral IS

Mind full or Mindful?

All too often we are swept up in our busy lives, rushing from one activity to the next. We operate on autopilot; our thoughts taking control whilst we clean our teeth, brush our hair, take a shower; not really being aware of what we have just been doing.

In one of his talks, John Kabat-Zinn asks the audience an interesting question:

“How many people do you have with you in your shower?!”

I don’t know about you, but I for one, am rarely alone. My virtual notepad is always with me plotting and rehearsing my tasks for the day. Friends, family and colleagues frequently pop by as I think of all the conversations and messages they require. Or I revisit and agonise over an interaction with someone, which hasn’t gone as well as I would have liked. I am mind full. 

Most of us spend much of our day absorbed in the personal narrative of our lives. We may worry about the future or obsess about the past. We rarely spend time actually enjoying and appreciating the now.

Mindfulness is about paying attention to the present moment. Feeling the drops of water on our heads as we take our shower. Noticing the tingle in our skin as we massage shampoo into our scalp.

It takes us outside our thoughts, outside that narrative that it is all too easy to get trapped in. And importantly, it allows us to gain some headspace to free up our thinking and perhaps think about some of our problems more creatively, or with a more positive mindset so that they feel less overwhelming.

What can mindfulness help us with?

There is a good evidence base for its use in depression and, more recently, anxiety. It is not a panacea for all problems – it is not appropriate for severe depression, alcohol and drug problems and psychosis. Some studies report it as being as effective as medication, with less side-effects.

Evidence also suggests that mindfulness might help us manage stress better at work.

In addition, research is being conducted into the benefits of mindfulness in schools, after reports from short-term studies of improved psychological wellbeing and attention.

How can I practise mindfulness?

Some people are put off by the thought that you have to sit still and meditate, but this is not necessarily the case.

In the many definitions of mindfulness, some highlight the importance of focussing internally, on our thoughts and body, and some on paying attention externally to what is going on around us, and some on both.

Focussing externally, by being curious, taking notice and appreciating the beauty of the things that surround us can really help us be in the moment. The vibrant colours and unexpected warmth of a sunny autumn day for example.

Or simple objects in everyday life that we normally would pay little attention to, that we sometimes see in a different light, marvelling at them in wonder as if noticing them for the first time.

The Book of Life’s chapter on Appreciation talks about a French writer from the 18th century, Xavier de Maistre, who was wounded in a duel and confined to his bedroom. He recorded a mock-serious journal “A voyage around my bedroom” in which he looked at familiar objects in his room such as a chair and the window as if they were “remarkable novelties”, and this brought him great joy. He came to realise that:

“The key to existence is not to seek out what is actually new. It is to bring a fresh mindset to what we already know but have – long ago – forgotten to notice.”

This focus externally to me represents a kind of mindfulness in action. It does not necessarily involve sitting on a mat or chair. You can be very much be awake and moving, but rather than doing on autopilot, you are fully aware and in the moment.

Focussing internally is about becoming aware of what is going on inside: the sensations in our body and our thoughts. Watching our thoughts as one might observe clouds passing – there’s planning, there’s worry, there’s the critic – helping us to see our thoughts as weather patterns that come and go. Accepting them, rather than fighting them. They, like our moods, will pass.

This can be done in a formal meditation sitting still, alert and aware, allowing the mind to focus internally, but can also be done moving in activities such as mindful walking, Qigong and yoga where the focus is on the breath and/or the body. 

Integrating mindfulness into everyday life

This is my challenge. Mindfulness requires practice, like most things that we do. We know that to keep fit, it’s best to work out regularly, and this is the same for mindfulness. We need to practice regularly to train our mind like we would our muscles.

Ways we can do this are to:

PAUSE

Stop briefly for a few seconds throughout your day. Take a few breaths and notice what is present in your body and your mind.  Small coloured stickers placed on objects around your house/place of work act as cues to pause.

Take a three-step breathing space (3 minutes)

This is a quick meditation that can be done sitting or standing. I use it to unwind or if I am feeling overwhelmed by everything I need to get done, to re-energise and de-clutter.

Do formal practice (10 minutes)

Using an app such as those mentioned below, or some guided meditations such as those here. Some of these are seated. Some are moving.

Simply take notice.

Pay attention – what is here, now? Be curious. Like our French writer, we may start to appreciate those small things in life by seeing them differently. Practising #3 Good Things can help with this.

Mindful listening

Concentrate on listening and engaging rather than letting our minds wander or think ahead to what we are going to say next.

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There are many ways to become more mindful and less mind full. Writing this has inspired me to re-engage with my regular practice. I know that it makes a difference!

“Human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives.”

William James (American philosopher & psychologist)

Gill Johnson of Mindful Elephant is running an 8 week mindfulness course at East Horsley village hall starting Tuesday 24 April 7-9pm. Cost £225 reduced to £200 to HH subscribers. Contact Gill atgill@mindfulelephant.com or on 07785 921950 now to book or if you would like more information. 

Resources

Books

There are many books about mindfulness. Two that I have found useful are:

Finding peace in a frantic world by Mark Williams & Danny Penman. This has an 8 week course that you can do using a CD and the book. I have completed it and cannot recommend it highly enough.

Sitting still like a frog by Eline Snel (mindfulness for kids). I have tried this when teaching in schools and on my own children. They really love it, finding it very calming and relaxing. It starts to give children an awareness of their bodies and the changes that can happen depending how they feel. They learn to use the breath as a means of grounding themselves.

Apps

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Need help & support?

Most people feel in emotional crisis at some time in their lives. For some this passes quite quickly but for others the feeling lasts for a while. If the feeling is overwhelming or you feel so distressed that you have thoughts of harming yourself or you feel you are at risk of harming others then you need to seek help urgently.

If you are not at crisis point, but are suffering escalating or unmanageable stress, burnout, anxiety or depression then seek professional help. This can be through your GP, a therapist or a psychiatrist.

They might suggest talking therapies and / or medication.

I have listed organisations and resources that can help here.

There are lots of free CBT resources on-line or in books.

Alternatively, call one of the helplines or attend a local Safe Haven to talk to someone face-to-face.

Safe havens are safe and friendly places to talk to someone for emotional and mental health support if you (or the person that you are caring for) are experiencing a crisis. They also give you an opportunity to meet others that might be in a similar situation.

Local safe havens are:

  • Guildford Safe Haven at Oakleaf Enterprise, 101 Walnut Tree Close, Guildford GU1 4UQ. Open daily 6pm-11pm including bank holidays
  • Woking Safe Haven, The Prop, 30 Goldsworth Road, Woking Gu21 6JT. Open 6pm-11pm Monday to Friday and 12.30pm -11pm weekends and bank holidays.

 

If you know of any useful resources on this topic, please do comment below or contact us here.

Copyright © Horsley Hub 2019
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Getting help in a crisis

Most people feel in emotional crisis at some time in their lives. For some this passes quite quickly but for others the feeling lasts for a while. If the feeling is overwhelming or you feel so distressed that you have thoughts of harming yourself or you feel you are at risk of harming others then you need to seek help urgently.

Are you in at crisis point?

If you don’t feel you can keep yourself safe right now, seek immediate help.

  • go to any hospital A&E department (sometimes known as the emergency department)
  • call 999 and ask for an ambulance if you can’t get to A&E
  • ask someone else to contact 999 for you or take you to A&E immediately

If you need some support right now, but don’t want to go to A&E, here are some other options for you to try:

  • contact the Samaritans on Freephone 116 123, they’re open 24 hours and are there to listen
  • Contact your GP for an emergency appointment or if your GP surgery is closed call the out of hours team, NHS 111 , on 111

If you aren’t at crisis point but just need some help and support, read more here.

Copyright © Horsley Hub 2017

Talking therapies for adults

Sometimes it can be easier to talk to a stranger than to relatives or friends.

Sometimes we need a compassionate, fully attentive and non-judgemental environment to help us move forward. Although there are lots of different types of talking therapy, they all have a similar aim: to explore what you as an individual can do to make your own choices and changes that will ultimately improve how you feel.

Therapy of any type cannot change past events or magic problems away and it should not involve someone telling you what to do. Seeing a trained counsellor or therapist can help you find your own answers to problems; offer new perspectives and show you healthy and safe coping strategies for the future.

The Mental Health foundation have resources explaining the different treatment types in more detail.

Two main types of talking therapy are:

  • Counselling and Psychotherapy
  • CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy)

Talking Therapy services locally


Free services Your GP can refer you to the local talking therapies services (nationally known as IAPTs). They arrange a phone assessment with you. Based on your discussion, you will either be offered short-term counselling or CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy).
You can also refer yourself locally to the same service by contacting Mindmatters (Surrey’s local service) here.

PrivateBACP: the British Association of Counselling & Psychotherapists  lists all recognised practitioners and helps you find a therapist near you.
Counselling directory lists lots of useful articles and resources about the different types of help available and enables you to find a therapist near to you
Optima Health . A local wellbeing service based in Cobham offering 1-2-1 counselling and CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy). Recommended therapists are Hannah Walker (counsellor) and Peter Bryan (CBT and EMDR). They also operate independently elsewhere.

Counselling and Psychotherapy

Counselling and Psychotherapy have trust, respect, equality, congruence and confidentiality as their foundation.Very generally speaking, counselling can be viewed as shorter term and working more in the present, looking at what is going on now for the client. Psychotherapy is based on psychological theory, exploring a person’s early years, their childhood environment, past events and influences. This can offer clues to understanding present circumstances and responses. There is much overlap between the two and many counsellors are also trained psychotherapists.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

As illustrated in the diagram below, CBT is based on the concept that your thoughts, feelings, physical sensations and behaviour are interconnected, and that negative thoughts and feelings affect your body and the way you behave. The result is a vicious cycle. CBT aims to challenge Negative Automatic Thoughts (NATs) which fuel the cycle. For more information on how it works see here.

CBT has been used widely in the NHS and is now a major part of the services offered by the national IAPTS (improving access to psychological therapies programme. Research shows that it is very effective in anxiety and depression.

CBT Resources

Free online CBT resources

  • MoodGYM: Information, quizzes, games and skills training to help prevent depression
  • Living Life to the Full:  Free online life skills course for people feeling distressed and their carers.  Helps you understand why you feel as you do and make changes in your thinking, activities, sleep and relationships.
  • FearFighter: Free access can only be prescribed by your doctor in England and Wales
  • Moodjuice: They offer fantastic free worksheets on a range of mental health problems including this one on anxiety.

Other useful CBT web links

British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies
Beating the Blues (not free)

Self-help books using CBT

The ‘Overcoming’ series, Constable and Robinson. Self-help books which use the theories and concepts of CBT to help people overcome many common problems. Titles include: overcoming social anxiety and shyness, overcoming depression and overcoming low self-esteem.

Reading Well Books on Prescription helps you manage your well-being using self-help reading. The scheme is endorsed by health professionals, including the Royal College of Psychiatrists, and is supported by public libraries.

If you know of any useful resources on this topic, please do comment below or contact us here.

Helplines – phone and on-line

  • Anxiety UK – UK charity aiming to promote the relief and rehabilitation of people suffering with anxiety disorders through information and provision of self-help services.  Tel: 0844 4775 774

  • Beat – UK charity for people with eating disorders and their families.  Tel: 0845 634 1414

  • BipolarUK – “charity dedicated to supporting individuals with the much misunderstood and devastating condition of bipolar, their families and carers.”  Tel: 0333 323 3880

  • CALM – Campaign Against Living Miserably, for men aged 15-35.

  • Depression Alliance – A UK charity for people affected by depression, offering help to people with depression, run by sufferers themselves.  It has a network of self-help groups.Tel: 020 7633 0557

  • Elefriends a MIND Charity-founded supportive online community, a “safe place to listen, share and be heard.”

  • Maytree – “Maytree is a registered charity supporting people in suicidal crisis in a non-medical setting. Maytree offers short-term accommodation with befriending in a confidential, supportive and non-medical environment.” National service, with accommodation based in London.  Tel: 020 7263 7070
  • Mental Health Foundation – Provides information and support for anyone with mental health problems or learning disabilities.

  • MIND – a mental health charity in England and Wales, working to create a better life for everyone with experience of mental distress.

  • No Panic – A voluntary charity offering support for sufferers of panic attacks and OCD. Offers a course to help overcome your phobia/OCD.

  • OCD Action – support for people with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). Includes information on treatment and online resources.

  • OCD UK – a charity run by people with OCD, for people with OCD. Includes facts, news and treatments.

  • PAPYRUS – young suicide prevention society.

  • Sane – Charity offering support and carrying out research into mental illness.

  • YoungMinds – Information on child and adolescent mental health. Services for parents and professionals.

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