In recognition of Mental Health Awareness Week, one of our SilverCloud Health service users, Mark, shares his experience of using our digital mental health therapy programme and how it has helped him.
Tell us a bit about yourself…
I am 53 and live in Uxbridge, Middlesex with my partner but am originally from Reading, Berkshire. I work as a consultant and have been based at home full time since March last year. Prior to lockdown I was office based and worked alongside a team of people.
What brought you to SilverCloud?
I went from working full time in an office environment and interacting with a team of people, to working full time from home, on my own, without the social interaction I had in an office environment (although my girlfriend also works full time from home in a different part of the house).
I had been experiencing some personal challenges and stresses and the change in environment heightened the situation. Talking to family and friends helped, but I felt I would benefit from some extra support. I sought advice and was referred for NHS talking therapy and SilverCloud support services by my GP.
What was the experience of using SilverCloud like?
The talking therapy and using SilverCloud definitely helped me. It felt like a weight off my shoulders. SilverCloud is very user friendly and helped me to address some of the issues I was facing and make sense of them, which was a very useful part of the process, and the support and encouragement I received from the talking therapy phone sessions was a big help. Just being able to talk to someone who I knew was there specifically to try to help me was a big part of making progress.
What is your view of access to mental health services?
Although I managed to quickly start my talking therapy sessions and use of SilverCloud soon after being referred, I understand that many people have had a longer wait.
Some people struggling with their mental health turn to paid services, but I imagine many people can't afford to and are entitled to the services the NHS provides. I think one consequence of delays is potentially that some of the people who need support the most might be put off by the delay, and even lose interest in using a service that would benefit them.
For many people who are struggling with mental health issues, I think it is important that something happens as soon as possible. Talking to family and friends about how you feel helps, but I was very impressed with SilverCloud and talking therapy which made the difference for me.
On Mental Health Awareness Week, what is your message around mental health?
Although there is now much greater awareness of mental health issues, I do think there is still a stigma attached to it and some people worry about how they are seen by others if they admit they are struggling, which is likely to make the situation worse. If someone breaks their arm or leg, there is visible evidence, but mental health issues are invisible to others. Just because someone can't see it, it doesn't make it any less real than a broken arm or leg. In the same way that a physical injury needs treatment, so does a mental health issue.
I think it is more important than ever that services like SilverCloud and talking therapies are readily available, as so many people have suffered from mental health challenges in the last year and need support.