The research is showing us that at least one in four people will experience a period of poor mental health in their lifetime. Whilst there continues to be discussion about what causes poor mental health, there is no doubt that receiving the right help works. Studies have shown that mindfulness, for example, can improve sleep, reduce blood pressure and manage stress effectively, especially if it’s combined with techniques like cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).
Many people also find just having someone impartial to talk to, or gaining skills to become more assertive can make all the difference to their recovery. Research also suggests that not seeking help for poor mental health can take years off your life (even more so than smoking).
Any service that improves the wellbeing of an individual should be a fair price, if there has to be a price at all. As we move swiftly in to the 21st Century, the shape of health services is changing and in order to get seen by a professional quickly, sometimes there’s a cost involved. Where possible, it’s recommended you speak to your doctor first, to see what resources are available locally that may be free for you to access. If those resources are stretched or it’s weeks before you can get seen, you may wish to choose to book privately. Obviously, this depends on your finances and many people have to rely on statutory support to get the help they need. Without getting in to a debate about that, it’s fair to say the situation is far from ideal.
But there is another consideration: how important is your health and wellbeing? How often will you buy something (you don’t need) to ‘feel better’ only to find a day, a week or a month later you don’t feel any better at all. Spending money on things which only provide short-term relief is often then followed by either feelings of guilt and/or urges to ‘self-medicate’ again. The discussion over paying for health services then, isn’t just about whether you can afford it, but the cost to your longer-term health and what priority you place on being well.
To emphasise, there are charities locally that provide free listening services which you may wish to explore before paying for services and your doctor can advise on those. The video from Mind below talks about how you can ask your doctor for help.
As a service provider who charges the ‘going rate’, it took me a long time before I felt comfortable offering a fee to people that need help – mainly because I want to keep my services as accessible as possible. If I could, I would offer services free of charge (and in some situations still do) to make sure anyone in need could have the benefit of wellness teaching and therapy. But I have costs to cover (room hire, professional memberships, continuing professional development, websites and other overheads to name a few) so in order to emphasise the value of what I do, I charge an ethical fee. (I don’t believe just because I have ‘specialist’ knowledge, that I should charge through the roof).
There are also benefits to clients paying for the time of a trained and qualified professional, ideally once they’ve explored options with their own doctor:
- Taking charge of your own wellbeing through fee-paying may help you feel more in control and more ‘at the wheel’ of how you move forward. You go at a pace that feels right for you, whilst remaining focused on your ‘end goal’. Many people say to me that when they had free therapy, they felt under pressure to be ‘fixed’ within the 6-8 week window they were given, whilst not really being sure of what was involved or how it could help. That doesn’t mean that short-term treatments don’t work (I offer short-term interventions too), just that sometimes time-limited sessions aren’t always the most helpful approach.
- Paying for professional help can provide reassurance that you’re receiving quality; that said, people working for the NHS are also held to high standards, and a lot of charities which offer free listening services are also worth exploring as intensive training can be offered to volunteers. It’s also worth verifying the credibility of any professional you see, either asking for testimonials or seeing their qualifications.
- Specialist knowledge is often worth paying for; if you want help with a specific problem, sometimes it is worth seeking the help of a fee-charging professional, where other generalist services can’t help. This also means that some services, like the sessions and workshops I offer, can be tailored to corporate and individual needs.
- Weekend opening is also an option that many private healthcare providers, including myself, are able to offer.
The key message is that your wellness is a priority, both for you and for the people closest to you and that seeking help, whether paid-for or free, is better than not seeking help at all. I often say to clients that you can’t pour from an empty cup, so finding time to put your wellness first – in a way that works for you – matters. The benefits are that you are more likely to recover and stay well if you’ve found a helpful and healthy technique that works for you.
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With Delphi’s help, I have a new perspective on life and the strength to face new and challenging things in a positive way. B.