If you have concerns about your mental health it is important to take those concerns seriously. Recent surveys suggest that one in four people will experience a mental health problem at some time in their lives. Help is available. Whilst we all go through rough patches and may reasonably expect that things will get better at some point, under prolonged stress just about anyone can begin to develop mental health problems.

If you feel that your thoughts, feelings, behaviour or relationships are becoming harmful or self defeating, that is the time to look for help. Crucially, if you feel you may be a risk to yourself, or others, take action. If it gets that bad, talk to someone, let them know. Nobody benefits from your trying to cope with things on your own.

It is a good idea to start by seeing your GP. Sometimes psychological distress can be linked to a physical condition so describing your symptoms to your doctor could flag up underlying problems. Your doctor can also prescribe helpful medication if you want it, and many GPs have a good understanding of what psychological help is available in your area. If your GP thinks you need more help they can refer you to the local psychiatric services, or to counselling services in your area.

Besides considering the option of medication, or finding some kind of counselling or psychotherapy, you may also need extra support whilst things are difficult for you. In the Edinburgh area GPs now have access to self help resources such as Positive Mental Training CDs which you can use at home. There are a range of organisations in Scotland that support people with mental health problems. The Scottish Recovery Network can outline some of the ideas behind the support that is available for people with mental health problems in Scotland.

Getting Psychological Help

It is easy to get confused with so many types of help offered with different names for similar kinds of processes. The broad headings for psychological help include counselling, psychotherapy and consultations with a psychologist. Although there are some differences between these kinds of help, for most people's purposes, counselling and psychotherapy are much the same thing.

There are now many services provided through the NHS and by voluntary sector agencies. The provision of mental health services has been much more of a priority within the NHS and other government agencies recently. The government spending cuts are likely to affect the way services are provided, but psychological services are regarded as a priority area. Although some parts of the country are still very short of services to help people struggling with their mental well being, you should be able to get some help. There are now services offered on the internet, or telephone counselling, if local help is hard to access. There is also a lot more information online, in libraries and from local service providers.

There are many agencies in Edinburgh offering specific types of counselling and general counselling services. You can see a comprehensive overview of what is on offer on the Edinburgh Counselling Agencies List.

Although there is help available through the NHS, or other service providers, many people choose to pay for services from private practitioners. One reason for this is that you may feel more in control of the process. You may not have to wait so long and you can have some choice about what therapist you see and arrange the meetings to fit with your ongoing commitments. You may also feel that you have a more equal relationship with your therapist, or have more sense of entitlement or empowerment, if you are paying the bill.

Whatever you choose to do the most important thing is that you feel treated with respect and your needs are recognised and addressed. You can also expect that what you talk about will be kept confidential between you and your therapist. At times when you are struggling with your mental well being you may feel unusually vulnerable and sensitive. Your therapist could make the difference between your just struggling to get by or beginning to regain a sense of being yourself again; thriving rather than merely existing.


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