Mental Health Options

Mental Health is such a topical subject right now and not a single day goes by when there is no mention of it either on the radio, tv or on our social media news feeds. As a nation we are encouraging people to speak up and not to suffer in silence, we remind each other constantly that they are not alone and that help is out there, but where can people turn for help? Here I want to highlight three key areas where people can turn to for counselling support and hopefully shed some light on the options that people have.


The NHS is understandably the first point of call for anybody experiencing unease or despair. For many people the feeling of anxiety or depression may be quite a new feeling and they don’t know exactly what to make of them. They may have been suppressing these feelings for a long time but ultimately the time comes when maladaptive coping strategies start to take effect. In time they decide to pay a visit to their local GP because as a society we have learned, or maybe become to believe that the GP has all the answers. As the person who is seeking help from the GP doesn’t exactly know what to make of their issues or concerns they find it extremely hard to communicate this to the GP which in turn leads to an increased level of anxiety. Of course all GPs are different and some will approach their patients differently than others but ultimately they all follow the NICE guidelines. For an example please check out the NICE guidelines for Anxiety. The positives around approaching your GP are that your GP is easily accessible and that they are usually friendly, after forming a relationship with you over a period of time. They also have the option of prescribing medication to help people who find themselves struggling with day to day life but it is important to note that medication is only considered fully effective when used alongside effective therapy. For further information regarding medication please check out Of course all mental health support through the NHS is free but unfortunately there is a long waiting list and usually you will have to wait months before you get face to face with a qualified counsellor and even then you are restricted on the number of sessions, type of therapy and timings of therapy.

Charities And Community Interest Companies

There are currently numerous charities and community interest companies around that offer support for their own particular area of interest. Cancer Connections offer fantastic support for families affected by cancer. Veterans In Crisis Sunderland provide dedicated help for armed forces veterans in Sunderland. Creative Minds - North Star Counselling CIC offer unique and innovative packages to support children who are struggling to access help in the systemand St Benedict’s Hospice offer much needed continued support for families who are bereaved. These are undoubtedly incredibly important services that reach a specific group of people and without the many great charities and CICs out there then it would be unimaginable to think where we would all be.The down side to this though is that each charity or CIC can only support people who are impacted by that particular cause. However, with all sectors and organisations it is important to do our homework on the Charities and CIC’s that we approach. This particular sector is no different to any other and it has already become a cut-throat sector as charities and CICs fight for small pockets of funding. There are many great benefits of approaching this sector but it does have it’s limitations in that there will be certain criteria to meet and you may be restricted on the type, duration and time of any therapy. 

Private Sector

The private sector is the forgotten sector that most people are unaware of or have misconceptions about. Most people often believe that private counselling is either not available or not affordable when in fact these ideas are far from the truth. A quick Search for counsellors in Sunderland on the Counselling Directory will bring up 128 qualified counsellors within 10 miles who are more than reasonably priced with prices ranging at approximately £35-£50 per session. This may still seem like a hefty price to some people but when we consider that 5 visits to Costa a week will cost approx.. £15, easy snacks on the go from the likes of Greggs may cost up to £15 per week and one take-away per week could cost £20 for the family then we might realise that the price isactuallyrelative. Furthermore, by searching for your own counsellor via Counselling Directory or Psychology Today you can filter your search to ensure that you find a counsellor with experience, qualifications and expertise in whatever subject or issue that best suits your needs. Again though, care needs to be taken when choosing your counsellor to ensure they are suitably qualified, this can be done by looking to see if they are registered with any governing bodies such as the BACPUKCP or the NCS. By choosing to go through private practice you are actually taking complete control over your own Mental Health.

By Mark Walsh (MBACP) BA(Hons)CEO
Founder of Lighthouse Therapy Group