Thanks to this month’s Time To Talk day, there has been lots of talk about talking. Lots of encouragement for us to make the space for a conversation around mental health, to be able to talk openly to others.
According to Mind, almost 20 million adults never speak about mental health – and it’s set to get worse due to the cost-of-living crisis. In a recent survey conducted by the mental health charity, nearly a fifth of those surveyed reported that the cost-of-living crisis is decreasing how often they are able to make space to have a conversation about mental health. Almost half (46%) of respondents said that their reason for fewer conversations is that everyone is struggling right now and they don’t want to burden others. The cost of accessing support through social networks and community spaces is having a significant negative impact.
But not talking about how we feel can lead to serious consequences.
So, we decided to have a conversation about mental health ourselves. We caught up with two of our fantastic clinicians from The Employee Resilience Company (TERC), BHSF’s dedicated, specialist mental health arm. We talked to Chloe Edwards and Andreea Marcu from TERC, to find out more about the conversations that they have with individuals.
One of the biggest questions we get asked is ‘What exactly is counselling?’ ‘What does a conversation with a trained psychotherapist look and sound like?’
“There are lots of definitions really, but mainly counselling is a space for our people to come and have that free, confidential, neutral space to express exactly that they are thinking, exactly what they are feeling without fear of judgement, without fear of it being spread around to anyone else. Mostly, it is about empowering our clients to find the solutions for themselves; walking that path with them, not necessarily going ‘here’s a cure’ and saying we’re going to ‘rescue’ you with this answer. It is more a process of gathering the information, digesting it, picking it apart, organising it and then giving it back to our clients and saying, ‘does this make a bit more sense now, does this feel better?’
“The key thing is having that neutral, confidential space – that’s so freeing for our clients – and that’s really what counselling is about.
“When I talk to people about what I do and my role as a psychotherapist, most respond with ‘oh I don’t need that, I have friends, I have family…’. I always challenge them by saying OK that’s good, but name me one person that can speak to you, who can listen to you unconditionally without having any intervention, without trying to ‘fix’ you or the situation you are in, without trying to have opinions about what’s going on for you, without showing that they know better.
“There are people who think they’re experts in others’ lives because of their own experience. So, when asked this question, the resounding answer is always that they can’t actually name anyone. So that’s what we do, we hold the space for those people to get to their own answers, to find their own opinions, feelings and ideas of how to deal with something – not necessarily ‘fixing’ – but dealing with it. Just being there, no matter what is going on.”
TERC has a strong team of experienced and qualified clinicians delivering specialist psychological therapy, counselling and healthcare to employees. TERC’s services are underpinned by APPTS accreditation status by the Royal College of Psychiatry, the highest level of clinical approval in the UK. Because of this, the employers that we work with know that our support consistently goes the distance in terms of connecting individuals with the specialist mental health skills they require quickly, with the quality to make a real difference, no matter the complexity of a case. Here’s some feedback from some of the employees we have recently supported:
The most helpful thing was that my counsellor made sure that I felt comfortable and able to be completely honest with her about how I have really been feeling without any judgement. I think I maybe felt like I needed permission to be honest with myself, speaking with her gave me the freedom to do that.
I really needed the opportunity to talk about just how I have been feeling and struggling with no judgement at all and to have some acknowledgement that it is quite normal to be feeling like I do.
The appointment for counselling was very quick. My counsellor sounded very calm, understanding, professional and experienced. This gave me confidence to open up about my issues , which were otherwise very difficult to share with anyone.
Talk to your teams about the importance of reaching out and remind them of the services that you have put in place for them.