Talking therapy

With impressive recovery rates, it’s no wonder 1.4 million people were referred for talking therapy to treat common mental health problems last year. But what does this form of treatment involve and how might you benefit from speaking your mind?

Mental health has become one of the most pressing issues of our time. In the UK, one in four people experience a mental health problem every year, and in England, one in six people suffer from depression, anxiety or a stress-related condition.

However, the stigma surrounding mental health is steadily reducing. Over a third of people with a mental illness now receive help, and 40% of people say they would be comfortable talking to their employer about a mental health problem.

Increasingly, more of us are harnessing the power of talking to help reduce our daily stresses and anxieties. Here’s what you need to know about this effective form of therapy…

What is talking therapy?

The Mental Health Foundation describes talking therapy as a “chance for people to explore their thoughts and feelings and the effect they have on their behaviour and mood”.

Primarily targeted at treating depression, anxiety and other common mental illnesses, talking therapies include cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), counselling and self-help support. In recent years, recovery rates have improved to 49% on average, while 65% of people show significant improvement after treatment, making this type of therapy one of the most powerful ways to look after our mental health.

What is CBT?

CBT is the most common form of talking therapy in the UK. It involves working with a therapist to identify and challenge your negative thoughts and behaviours to improve the way you feel. CBT is intended to help you to stop the cycle of negative thinking. It can be effective for treating anxiety, depression and also post-traumatic stress disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder.

How does counselling work?

Counselling is sometimes used as a blanket term for talking therapies, but it’s also a form of therapy in itself. It involves talking through your problems and feelings with a trained therapist. It’s not about getting advice or answers, but finding your own solutions and building a better understanding of your emotions.

Whether face-to-face, in a group or online through chat services, you can attend counselling sessions over a period of weeks or months.

Where can I go for help?

Talking therapies like CBT and counselling are available on the NHS and you don’t need referral from your GP to access care. The Mental Health Foundation provides an online mindfulness course and can help you find a qualified mindfulness teacher near you.

Vitality members can access up to eight CBT and counselling sessions per plan year at no extra cost and without the need of a GP referral. If you’re referred for treatment (or self-refer), Vitality’s Mental Health Panel will arrange for a phone-based assessment to establish the best course of treatment for your needs.

If you have concerns about your mental health, Vitality has teamed up with award-winning online mental health service Big White Wall to provide 24/7 support. Get in touch or find out more on the Mental Health Panel home page.

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