Posts Tagged ‘mental health’

Digital Marketing for Therapists

Wednesday, December 12th, 2018 | Business & Marketing, News

In June, I launched my course Digital Marketing for Restaurants to help restaurant owners and managers access new customers via digital media. Since then over a thousand people have enrolled on it and it has achieved a 5-star rating.

I’m now pleased to announce that I have launched a brand new digital marketing course, this time for therapists and counsellors.

It covers building websites, using Google Ads, using Google My Business, Facebook pages, posts and ads, and using Eventbrite. It’s available now on Udemy and you can preview it here.

Here’s the preview video:

Become a Mental Health Ambassador

Friday, November 30th, 2018 | Business & Marketing, News

Last week, I launched my new course Mental Health Ambassador Certificate. It offers you the chance to become a qualified Mental Health Ambassador, allowing us to improve mental health across society and help those in need.

My previous courses in mental health have predominantly been around self-help, so I’m excited to launch something that can help people help others. It teaches the fundamentals of a range of conditions, how to assist others using the Real Support Framework (REAL-SF) and how to speak confidentially about mental health.

So far, over 600 people have enrolled and the first wave has already begun to earn their certificates.

You can find the course on Udemy.

Good stress talk

Wednesday, November 14th, 2018 | Life

Last week, Leeds Anxiety Clinic held its first public talk “How to build good stress into your life to make you immune to bad stress”.

As a first event, it has been a success. It was more than sold out: we had a waiting list with people emailing us asking how they could get tickets or just stand at the back. So, it is great to see there is demand for what we do.

Chris delivered the talk with confidence and the feedback we received via Survey Monkey afterwards was generally positive. We’re looking forward to announcing more events in the near future.

Join the #ThisIsNormalLife campaign

Wednesday, August 29th, 2018 | News

Social media paints an unrealistic portrait of life. It’s full of pictures of people with perfect make-up who spend the whole lives drinking champagne and flossing in front of the Effiel Tower. Many of us do get the chance to do these things, of course, but most of the time we’re going to work, cleaning the kitchen or just passed out exhausted on the sofa.

The problem is that being bombarded with these images is bad for our mental health.

So, this September, Worfolk Anxiety is launching a campaign called 30 Days of Normal Life. We’re encouraging everyone to post boring pictures of their life with the hashtag #ThisIsNormalLife.

Won’t you join us in a month of making the internet a lot more dull and a little less depressing?

Leeds Anxiety Clinic opens

Monday, July 9th, 2018 | News

We’re pleased to announce that Leeds Anxiety Clinic has opened its doors. Here are my personal thoughts about it.

I’ve been working in mental health for around five years now, running the charity Anxiety Leeds, blogging over at Worfolk Anxiety and conducting research into mental health technology as part of my master’s degree. Getting involved with a company like this seems the next logical step.

The feedback we’re getting at the moment is that Leeds IAPT has a 9-month waiting list. Therapy takes time to work, so if you’re looking for help, realistically you’re looking at more than a year of your life before you can see any change. That’s too long.

And whether you go via the NHS, or you go via private therapy, you will usually get a generalist. Some organisations run “mental health” group sessions, for example. You might be a high functioning anxiety sufferer but you find yourself sat next to a schizophrenic. They’re both very different conditions that require different skills. Or your counsellor also does bereavement or addiction, and sidelines with anxiety. They don’t have the specialist skill set. It’s like taking your boat to Kwik Fit because “all vehicles are pretty much the same”.

We’re aiming to fix both of these problems by providing specialist care, with a range of options to suit different circumstances. Including some educational events that we’re planning to announce shortly.

All of this runs alongside my existing commitments to research and Anxiety Leeds, which will be unaffected by anything we’re doing here. Although, I very much hope that what we do at the charity will be informed by anything we learn at LAC, so that we can continue to improve the group.

Can you help with anxiety research?

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2018 | Science

As part of my research at Leeds Beckett University, we’re recruiting people with anxiety to take part in a 4-week trial you can do from home using your mobile phone.

We’re giving people a range of different phone apps designed to reduce anxiety, to see which ones work and which ones don’t. As part of the research, you will need to complete some short questionnaires and use the app for four weeks. Or, you may be allocated to a waiting list in which case you will just need to complete the questionnaires.

To find out more information, and to see whether you are eligible, please see the project’s website.

Good reads for Mental Health Awareness Week

Sunday, May 20th, 2018 | Health & Wellbeing

Below, I’ve collated a bunch of my blog posts on mental health into a list of interesting stuff to read. It’s all been published here or over on the Worfolk Anxiety blog.

Does social media damage your mental health?

In May, Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) and Young Health Movement published a report on the impact of social media on mental health. The TL;DR is that yes, social media can be harmful. But it also has its uses, so when used in moderation, like most things in life, can be a useful tool.

Things you should know about antidepressants

This is a pretty old article now, and if I wrote it today I would probably say way more. But it highlights a few key things to think about when deciding to go down the antidepressant route or not, and more widely, what opinion you hold of them.

Things to do when you’re well, according to people with anxiety

Mental hygiene is the things you regularly do to keep yourself mentally healthy. Just like we have a daily routine for physical hygiene and dental hygiene, there are things we can do to keep our mental health on the right track. But what actually helps? We asked people who live with anxiety.

Things to tell yourself when you’re not well, according to people with anxiety

In last week’s blog post, we looked at some good things to do when you are feeling well. But what about when you are having a rough patch and can’t find the energy to do anything? What should you tell yourself?

Will suicide nets stop jumpers at the Golden Gate Bridge?

When it comes to stopping people throwing themselves off the bridge, the question is, can a one-time intervention really save lives? Turns out the answer is yes.

We don’t need more money for mental health

You regularly hear politicians talking about how the NHS needs more money for mental health. In today’s post, I want to challenge this idea and offer a very different explanation and very different solution.

What would a mental health workout look like?

If you want to improve your physical fitness, you might work out. Maybe you would eat a high protein breakfast, hit the gym, do a warm-up followed by some intervals and then take a warm bath to recover afterwards. But what about mental wellness? What would a training session look like? What specifically would you do?

Cognitive-Behavioral Treatment of Perfectionism

Wednesday, December 27th, 2017 | Books

Cognitive-Behavioral Treatment of Perfectionism is a book by Sarah J. Egan, Tracey D. Wade, Roz Shafran, and Martin M. Antony.

It’s written for therapists but is also useful for academics. And, as it turns out, for some introspection, too.

What exactly is perfectionism? There is no universal definition of clinical perfectionism but typically involves in a process of people setting unachievable standards for themselves and then feeling bad when they miss them. Treating it can have transdiagnostic benefits for a person’s mental health.

A key part is an over-reliance of self-feedback. It’s not enough that other people tell you that you are doing a good job: you need to meet your own high standards, not theirs.

How do you assess it? There is no single way, though a few inventories are emerging. And by “a few”, I mean loads:

  • Almost Perfect Scale-Revised (APS-R)
  • Behaviour Domains Questionaire (BDQ)
  • Burns Perfectionism Scale (BPS)
  • Clinical Perfectionism Questionaire (CPQ)
  • Consequences of Perfectionism Scale (COPS)
  • Frost et al. Multidimensional Perfectionism Scale (FMPS)
  • Hewitt and Flett Multidimensional Perfectionism Scale (HMPS)
  • Neurotic Perfectionism Qustionaire (NPQ)
  • Perfectionism Inventory (PI)
  • Perfectionistic Self-Presentation Scale (PSPS)
  • Positive and Negative Perfectionim Scale (PANPS)

The model

The standard model for perfectionism is that you set a standard and try to achieve it. These standards are typically inflexible, over-general (one mistake wipes off the entire report as failure) and filled with double-standards (it is okay for someone else to do that, but not me).

The height of the standard leads to avoidance.

You either then hit the standard, in which case you tell yourself it was too easy.

Or you miss the standard and beat yourself up.

The treatment

The book lays out a full treatment plan based on cognitive behaviourism. However, one thing I will point out for a quick win: merely monitoring your symptoms seems to improve things.

Ethlers and colleagues (2003) had people with PTSD perform daily monitoring of their symptoms. After three weeks, 12% had improved sufficiently to no longer meet the clinical level of PTSD.

Similarly, there is evidence that self-monitoring contributes to improvements in anxiety and depression (Coull & Morris, 2011).

Self-criticism

Perfectionists often see a value in self-criticism because they believe that if they accepted lower standards, they would be lazy and unproductive.

So, rather than eliminating self-criticism, we want to replace it with constructive feedback.

The authors suggest we think of it as the choice between two basketball coaches: do you want one who just calls you “stupid” and “a failure” when you make a mistake? Or do you want one that is encouraging, offers suggestions for improvements and guides you to the next level in performance? That is the difference between a self-critical inner voice and a compassionate but productive one.

This is important because of the Yerkes-Dodson Law. This states that there is an optimal level of arousal. Too little, and you will be lazy. Too much, though, and your performance starts to deteriorate as well. Moderation is the order of the day: gentle pressure produces optimal performance, not viciously beating yourself up.

Procrastination

One of the biggest problems for perfectionists is that they are often not productive because of procrastination. They put off tasks for a number of reasons:

  • The task is large, and therefore the time commitment to completing it perfectly is equally large
  • You feel overwhelmed by the idea of having to do it perfectly
  • Giving yourself too little time is an easy get-out: it’s okay for it to be imperfect because it is not a true reflection of your performance

So, they do nothing. Nothing pleasurable, either. There can be no enjoyable tasks because they “haven’t earned it”. So, the time simply goes to waste.

The motivation trap

A common reason for putting tasks off is “waiting for the motivation” to get it done. But the authors claim that this is a fundamental misunderstanding of causation.

We assume that motivation inspires action. But, in reality, action inspires motivation (Shafan et al 2010). If you want to feel motivated about a task, force yourself to start it and them motivation will follow.

This fits with my blog post on what comes first: thoughts or feelings? It is our behaviour that drives our feelings, not the other way around.

Summary

This is a really interesting read for anyone interested in perfectionism. It is aimed at clinicians, which means you don’t get all of the friendly hand-holding of popular science, and everything comes from a certain angle. However, it is written in a very engaging way, so doesn’t suffer from the stuffiness of academic texts.

Anxiety Leeds impact report

Tuesday, August 1st, 2017 | Foundation

Today, we’re launching the first Anxiety Leeds impact report.

We regularly take feedback from our group members and survey them to see what is working and what is not. However, this is the first time we have systematically reviewed the results and published a report about it.

Here are the headline figures:

  • We support a wide range of ages across both genders
  • We support a broad range of anxiety conditions, often compounded by depression and physical health issues
  • 71% feel less alone after attending our meetings
  • 29% feel a lot more positive about life
  • 40% even see a reduction in day-to-day anxiety, despite us not being a treatment group

This is set on a background of us working with people who have anxiety, and therefore have a negative outlook on the world, compounded by also suffering from depression, which is the case of 62% of our members.

Here is the headline graph:

It is clear that not everyone sees a benefit in attending our group. This is consistent with other mental health programmes, all of which typically experience high drop-out rates.

The majority of people who do attend do see a benefit. This benefit increases the more they attend. This result should be viewed with caution: although it is highly plausible that there is a causative effect here, it is not direct evidence of one.

We’re also delivering an internal plan to group members on how we can continue to improve the group as we go forward.

You can download the full report here.

Does social media damage your mental health?

Friday, July 28th, 2017 | Health & Wellbeing

In May, Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) and Young Health Movement published a report on the impact of social media on mental health. We wrote about it extensively on Worfolk Anxiety and you can read the full write-up over there.

The infographic was too good not to re-post, though. The TL;DR is that yes, social media can be harmful. But it also has its uses, so when used in moderation, like most things in life, can be a useful tool.

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