When searching for help, support and treatments for any mental health conditions it can be a difficult and arduous task.
Sadly especially with perinatal mental health, a lack of specialist teams in the NHS has led many looking to other sources to find the help they need. From counselling, to EMDR, to hypnotherapy, the list can be endless. Navigating the different treatments on offer can be hard and can leave us feeling confused and frustrated.
- So how can we make sure that the treatment is safe?
- How can we trust the person offering the treatment?
- How can we safeguard mental health while looking for help?
Treatments shouldn’t promise you the impossible.
Mental health conditions are not something that can be cured overnight. In some cases sadly they can never be ‘cured’ but rather managed, so a person can still live a full and active life. So when searching for help and treatments it is good to look exactly at what is being promised.
Some treatments may claim they can ‘cure’ a mental health condition in as little as 1/2 sessions. Is this realistic? While no one is doubting that there are treatments that can help lessen symptoms and help those suffering to build coping strategies, to say it is possible to cure someone, and be it in so few sessions, feels like miraculous claims. This can be damaging.
Suffering from mental health conditions can make people very vulnerable. They want to believe that they can be well again and so may feel desperate. When tried treatments don’t bring the promised cure, it can leave devastation in it path, it can leave the person feeling let down, hopeless and set them back in their recovery. Time can play a big part of this too. No one wants to be unwell and often treatments for mental health issues can take time, commitment and hard work. When hope is offered by saying that paying for a treatment will somehow offer a faster relief or that relief can be obtained in a shorter time it can lead to expectations that will lead to disappointment.
False promises, unrealistic guarantees and not looking at people as individuals can lead to damage. Also remember that if any treatments are as effective as they claim there will be good research to back up the claims and the treatment will be under investigation by the medical field to pioneer in providing help.
So when looking at treatments ask;
- What are the results that are being promised?
- Is there promise of a cure or quick result?
- Are they realistic?
- Is the treatment evidence based?
- Is the treatment right for that individual?
- Is there some improvement as the treatment progresses?
Remember also that you are an individual, with unique experiences, personalities and needs. Not all treatments will work for You. Finding what does work can take time.
Can you trust them?
What about the people promising help or cures? While there are many genuine people offering help, and many who’s intentions to give support are good, there are also many who are putting people at risk or, whose intention is running a business and making money.
It can be a minefield, and a local search of any area will turn up numerous counsellors, therapists and so on. It can be hard to know who to go to for treatments that will aid recovery.
There are many organisations to check therapists such as British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (bacp). All practitioners should be registered with some form of regulatory organisation that provides them with support, advice, supervision and accreditation.
You can also ask;
- What are training and qualifications do they hold?
- Are there qualifications nationally recognised?
- What results do they profess the treatments offer?
- Do they have genuine, honest references?
- How long have they been practicing?
- Do they promise a ‘cure’ or support to help manage symptoms?
- Is their treatment evidence based?
- Is their research peer reviewed, modern, repeatable and of representative sample size?
Another aspect is the claim that some make of being able to train others in short workshops to go forth and also ‘cure’ or ‘treat’ those suffering with mental health conditions. Anyone can learn therapies such as hypnotherapy, sometimes in half a day and many other techniques that are then offered to those seeking help and support. But the question is, does this give them the needed skills to really help someone to recover or manage their mental health? Often these treatments need to be offered along side other support such as counselling, CBT or medication.
To not take a whole systems approach can be dangerous and also put people at risk of relapse and increase of associated symptoms. Sensationalised claims of being able to cure mental health conditions are unrealistic and a red flag to move on.
What about offered training to help support those in work they already do? It is important to ask the honest question as to whether this training is really enough to support someone who has a mental health condition? While we know that support is lacking for those who need this support, giving support that is at best poor, will only cause more damage in the long run. Perinatal mental health needs specialist support and knowing boundaries of practice and also who is qualified to offer support, shows that families and their interests are the priority. While support may not be readily available this doesn’t mean that it is ok for support to be offered that is questionable, by people with small amounts of training. Also while many things such as mindfulness can help support low level mental health conditions, those with serious mental health issues should be accessing specialist support. Trying to support someone when not properly trained is gambling with someones life.
Those who are in a position to give this specialist support have trained for many years, gaining medical qualifications and clocking up many hours of clinical work. If these also sometimes struggle to give the right support and help, then how can anyone who has done a few hours training claim to cure what others have been unable to?
Safeguarding mental health while searching for help
Looking for the right help and support, as well as the right person to offer that help is hard. It can be confusing, time consuming and at times frustrating. When someone is at their most vulnerable they are often expected to go out there and find the treatments themselves. How can emotional wellbeing be protected?
- Look for treatments that offer realistic results.
- Do they offer a ‘cure’ or support to help manage symptoms?
- Is there a large cost attached?
- What are the qualifications of those offering treatments?
- Is the treatment evidence based?
- Is the treatment a compliment to other support?
- Is the treatment tailored to individual needs, circumstances and issues?
- What are your expectations of the treatment?
There are not any magical cures, easy options or answers as to why one treatment helps someone but not others. There are many looking for hope to make them well and to cure their mental health. Yet the real hope comes from support that is proven to work, by people qualified to offer it and also with you, from within and the belief that you can manage your mental health issues. Hope also comes from others who too have struggled and looked for help, these can offer solace and understanding.
For more information please visit our support page.