Four genuinely helpful tools to use while you are waiting on therapy
New technologies and support groups are opening up a new frontier in mental health support and treatment, says Liz Connor
If you're suffering depression or anxiety, talking therapies can be among the most effective ways of tackling the issue.
But accessing mental health support can be a lengthy and stressful process itself. With around one in four people in the UK experiencing a mental health problem each year, often the waiting list for treatment can be months long, so what do you do in the meantime?
Thankfully, technology and start-ups are making the therapy limbo easier to bear. Whether your own mental health has taken a hit, or someone you know is struggling, there's no need to suffer in silence with these helpful resources.
Mindbox is a website that connects people with affordable and immediate round-the-clock therapy, by phone, webcam or webchat. The 24-hour service has a variety of therapists on board, specialising in everything from abuse to panic attacks. There is no lengthy sign-up process to be connected with the right therapist.
The initiative was created and self-funded by TV presenter Anna Richardson, who has spoken about her own struggle with anxiety in the past. "If you're suffering from severe anxiety, waiting 10 weeks to access any kind of service can be a life sentence," Richardson has said. "The only other option is that you have to pay for your psychotherapy, which can be very expensive. Mindbox offers a much-needed solution between the two, making therapy affordable and accessible for everybody."
2. Mental Health Mates
When mental health takes a hit, sometimes you just want to be around people who understand what you're going through. Mental Health Mates is a network of peer support walking groups, run by people with mental health issues and set up by journalist Bryony Gordon.
Gordon was inspired after finding relief from the "terrible funk" of her OCD symptoms by getting outdoors. The charity's planned walks are a chance to meet like-minded people and discuss your issues without fear of embarrassment or judgement, while enjoying the wellbeing of being out in nature.
This summer, the initiative has partnered with Soho venue 100 Wardour St, which has launched a "Feel Good Garden" curated by Gordon, with £1 from every bill at the venue going to the charity.
Whether it's the endless emails or the intimidating boardroom meetings, the workplace can be a huge trigger for people who suffer anxiety or depression. In fact, work-related stress and mental illness now accounts for over half of work absences in the UK, according to figures released by the Health and Safety Executive in 2018.
Unmind is a confidential wellness platform for employers, that staff can access at any time, through their desktop or smartphone, and on a day-in-day-out basis if needed. It was started by clinical psychologist Nick Taylor, who recognised the lack of immediate support for the thousands of employees that reach burnout each year.
Acting as a therapist in your pocket, the initiative offers companies that subscribe access to scientifically-backed programmes that can help to combat issues with sleep, stress, productivity, or even your ability to support other people in your team.
If you've found yourself slipping into unhealthy habits, like sleeping in, skipping your morning shower and losing interest in hobbies, this 'habit tracking' app can help to get you back on track while you're waiting for therapy to begin. As you use Tomo, it learns about your lifestyle and prompts you to keep up with the self-care pursuits that keep your mind feeling positive - whether that's turning up for your weekly book club or making sure you make the bed every morning.
Every time you successfully complete a good habit - like waking up early and going for a run - you can share a photo of your achievement with the rest of the Tomo community, so others can give you a virtual thumbs up. The idea is that sharing your 'wins' with others can keep you accountable for your behaviour and motivated to face whatever challenges the day might throw at you.