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Mental health: Give skills not pills

The end of a year is a traditional time to make resolutions and set new goals.


It is also an opportunity to review and celebrate the successes of the past twelve months and to wonder too, what can be learned from the failures. In the spirit of ‘no failure only feedback’, I long since adopted a ‘jump first and knit your parachute on the way down’ approach to new ideas.


This can be as anxiety provoking as it is exciting, but the fail-your-way-to-success formula has certainly seen Fusion travelling fast down the road of innovation in mental health. Much has been done and much is still to do. It will take time, energy and motivation.




Why do we do the work we do?


It is said that if you do what you love, you’ll never work again. Passing on effective mind management skills is that kind of work. I would do it (and have done it) for free, largely motivated by significant personal life events.


25 years ago my shocking experience of postnatal depression showed me quite clearly that the UK mental health system is flawed and that pills should not be the first response to emotional distress. After my recovery, I sought to make use of my personal insight by offering help to others and began my training as a psychotherapist.


Three years into that training, I realised that mental health education itself was flawed; that much of what I was learning was old theory which had little practical use for the clients I was now seeing. I sought out additional training and ended up doing two diploma courses alongside each other; both very different in their approach.


Skills not pills


One approach advocated listening, empathising and supporting a client in the hope they would have a light bulb moment and find their own way forward. The other was a skills-driven, psycho educational model which focused on solutions rather than problems.


The stark contrast and surreal juxtaposition of working in two entirely different approaches simultaneously, impacted me enormously. It clearly illustrated to me that talking therapy is still evolving; that no one approach suits all and that a broad spectrum of skills training is most appropriate for those who would work in the field of well-being.



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