Just under 5m of the 27.1m appointments at GPs’ surgeries in October involved waiting anywhere between 15 and 28 or more days to see a doctor or practice nurse. Patients are finding it increasingly difficult booking appointments with their doctor in the U.K., or accessing support from statutory services.
If this sounds like you, or if you are planning a visit to your GP soon to talk about mental health, here are some suggestions:
• Ask for continuity of care. It’s important that you see the same doctor when you visit (where possible) especially in the early days so that they can monitor your progress effectively. You can request this.
• Plan your appointments in advance. If there tends to be a three week wait (or more) to see your doctor, or if you’re told to ring first thing and still can’t get an appointment, ask if you can book a few ahead. You can always cancel them if you don’t need them (obviously try to give the surgery notice if you can). You should be seeing your doctor regularly, especially in the first few weeks if you’ve been diagnosed with poor mental health or prescribed medication.
• Book medication reviews (if prescribed). You can do this with the practice nurse if necessary but this is particularly important if you’ve just been prescribed medication, or have discussed a lower or higher dose. Always check with your GP about the possible side effects to expect if they apply.
• Write a list of what you want to say and/or take someone with you if you’re worried you’ll forget something.
• Ask them what help is available locally, eg peer support groups, wellbeing courses, help with finances like Citizens Advice and help for carers too.
• Reach out to organisations like Healthwatch England in your area. They have a team of volunteers who want to hear your patient experiences, especially if the standard of care you’re receiving from your doctor is falling short.
• Be honest with your doctor. If you’re struggling, if things are getting worse or you’re feeling suicidal let them know, especially if you don’t have any support at home. You can always ask for a double appointment if you think you’ll need a longer consultation.
• Practice self-care in the meantime. While you’re waiting to access services, try to write a wellbeing plan. Make a list containing the names of people you can reach out to, and small things that help you get your sparkle back. Some people find things like going for a walk in the fresh air, watching a video that makes them laugh, and mindfulness helpful.
• Remember you’re not alone. Samaritans are available to listen on 116 123 24/7.
Here’s a video from Mind about finding the words to ask for help from your GP
I hope this helps, feel free to add any extra tips in the comments below if you think it will help someone trying to access their doctor.
Due to the COVID-19 outbreak my services are currently available online
Counselling – receive a 1-1 session for talking therapy over the ‘phone or via Zoom for just £25 (for 50 minutes). Please note my waiting list is now at capacity and I am not taking on any new 1-1 clients at this time. Group are going ahead as normal, see below.
Workshops – a selection of training and ‘micro-sessions’ available via Zoom, Teams or Google Meet
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Did you know according to Time to Change, 95% of people feeling sick with stress, will phone in sick with another reason (like headaches or stomach upsets)? For training on mental health awareness, get in touch.
This page includes training and events I offer.
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If you’re hosting an event and would like me to deliver training or a talk on my specialist areas please get in touch.
understanding mental health, incl. suicide awareness and prevention
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You can also use the form below to get in touch:
One of the best training sessions I’ve attended in years. Very well presented, Delphi is a natural!
Delphi’s calm manner and clear-speaking meant she connected with the audience and made us feel that we were able to ask questions without feeling conscious. We can’t wait for Delphi to return again.” Amanda Coles, President SSEWI
I’m Delphi Ellis – a Qualified Therapist, Mental Health Speaker, Mindfulness Practitioner and Well-being Trainer – Helping You Sparkle™.
I help people find their mojo and get their sparkle back, often after a difficult period in their lives. I do this by offering counselling, and well-being training services promoting positive mental health, including some specialist services for women. Sessions are available 1-1 and as group classes, with some workshops available nationwide. Private and corporate clients welcome.
As a Mindfulness Practitioner, I also suggest practical strategies for quality rest and relaxation, including guidance on healthy sleep. With a special interest in dream interpretation, I have appeared as the ‘dream expert’ for TV shows like Loose Women, ITV’s This Morning and presenting the Guide to Sleep on Daybreak. You can find out more about this here
Mindfulness Class: Delphi, A HUGE THANK YOU. I really have learned so much and enjoyed every week.
For more details about the services I provide click here, or to book a free initial consultation for counselling (available in Bedford and Milton Keynes) complete the form below (subject to availability). Please don’t send dreams for interpretation this way. For dream interpretation services click here. Messages are replied to during working hours.
I started my therapeutic career in 2002, where I supported those bereaved by murder and suicide, including attending inquests at coroner’s court. I also spent a brief time with the National Homicide Service. I now work in the community promoting positive mental health through 1-1 sessions and group events.
When the time is right for my clients, their aim is to find their way forward and get their sparkle back; this is the foundation of the work I do. I listen to what my clients need, helping them find their way back to centre, towards a ‘new normal’. Find out more about my counselling services here.
During 2018, I developed the training programme and was the specialist lead trainer for the More than Words project, developing peer support groups for bereaved people, around the country. In 2019, I developed the training and became lead trainer for the You Behind the Uniform project, discussing bereavement awareness and encouraging self-care with front-line emergency personnel, including police officers and paramedics. I also established a peer support group in Bedford.
Improving the Conversation for Women
In 2004, I established a unique website dedicated to Pregnancy Mental Health, following my own experience of depression and anxiety during pregnancy. This began a journey of promoting better mental for women, including supporting those escaping domestic abuse. I have featured in several popular magazines including Pregnancy and Birth and Natural Health magazines, and featured on radio programmes like Radio 4’s Women’s Hour. (You can see an extensive list of tv and media appearances below). I also promote healthy dialogue to help end discrimination and highlight inequality, campaigning through my Lets Talk Lady Business™ website and social media, to help end shaming, exploitation and violence towards women.
I am involved locally as a ‘Community Champion’ encouraging collaboration between agencies that promote positive mental health and wellbeing, and volunteering with those that support victims of crime. In 2018, I was nominated for one of the Women who Make Bedfordshire Safer Awards, held by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner. In 2019, I was voted Volunteer of the Year for services to the community.
Qualifications and Training
My qualifications and training include Therapeutic Counselling, Delivering Adult Learning, Restorative Justice, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Support for Insomnia, Positive Psychology, Mental Health First Aid and Mindfulness. I am accredited to work with victims of crime, including those escaping domestic abuse.
TV and Media Career
I have enjoyed a TV and media career talking about the subjects I am passionate about, including healthy sleep and dreams.
Media Appearances include:
BBC Radio: BBC Radio 2, BBC Radio 1 Xtra, BBC WM, BBC Shropshire, BBC Coventry, BBC Three Counties, BBC Radio 6 with George Lamb, BBC Suffolk Breakfast Show, BBC Radio Cambridgeshire Drive Time, BBC Radio Leeds Drive Time, BBC Tees, BBC Radio Shropshire, BBC Radio Scotland, BBC Radio 4, Woman’s Hour, BBC London with Sunny & Shay and on the Eddie Nestor show, Talk Sport, Beacon Radio, Hallam FM, Original 106 FM, Gemini FM, WLR FM, XFM, The Psychic Show (LBC 97.3), My Spirit Radio, Bridge Radio, Red FM
Loose Women, ITV’s This Morning, DayBreak (Presenter of The Guide to Sleep), , GMTV, The Wright Stuff, LK Today (Lorraine), Consultant to SO Television for My Lovely Audience (Graham Norton), Psychic TV
Featured work –
Daily Express, Mens Health magazine, Practical Parenting & Pregnancy Magazine, Natural Health, Soul & Spirit magazine, Huffington Post, Guardian (G2), Sunday Express, Pregnancy, Baby & You, Daily Express, Daily Telegraph, Pregnancy & Birth magazine, Prima Baby magazine, Practical Parenting, Columnist for Spirit & Destiny Magazine, Contributor to Talk Mum, Contributor to Silent Voices, Columnist for Spirit Force Magazine
Dreams Bed Company, Maybelline New York, Sky + HD (article featured in Daily Telegraph), Johnson’s Beauty: Dreamy Skin, Snow Leopard Trust
Volunteer of the Year Cohesion Award for services to the community;
Nomination: “Women Who Keep Bedfordshire Safer”;
Regional Finalist for the Health and Social Care Awards for Mental Health and Wellbeing;
Spiritual Connextions Awards for Best Service to Others
I also work for a charity in my spare time which offers a unique transport service for cancer patients, which won the Queens Award for Voluntary Service.
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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.
The way I use it today, is to help people measure how they’re feeling and whether or not it’s time to reset and recharge. As I explain in my classes though, ‘resilience’ isn’t keeping going no matter what (that’s endurance), and organisations have a responsibility to understand what systems, policies or culture might be impacting employee well-being. (This is why it’s so important to Mind Your Language). We can’t achieve well-being in isolation; it’s a much bigger picture than that. (I talk about the different pillars of wellness here).
However, if you personally want a place to start in terms of recognising your ‘early warning signs’ of when you’re not ok, I’ve given a brief overview below:
🟢 = All good, you’re sleeping and eating well, making time for movement (this doesn’t always have to be exercise, it could be a walk/gardening/even dancing round your kitchen) – you’ll be able to concentrate and engage with people when you want. You’ll be setting healthy goals and might even have a vision for the future.
Action: Keep doing what you’re doing! (Note: it’s just as important to engage in self-care when you’re doing well, as it is anywhere else. In fact, your self-care might be one of the reasons why you’re doing ok).
🟠 = Starting to notice some early warning signs, eg., poor night’s sleep, skipping meals, feeling edgy.
Action: Start to engage in restorative acts of self-care which may include talking to people about sharing the load, or even the little things like changing your bedding and having an early night. Ironically the very things that can help us feel better (like eating healthy and regularly) tend to be the first things that go out of the window when we’re not ok. However, try if you can to stick to healthy routines that you know work for you.
🔴 = Feeling like you’re not coping, may have started using unhealthy coping strategies. It may be time to stop, reach in to sources of help (eg GP, Occupational Health, Employee Assistance Programme) and start to make more room for your well-being. It will be different for everyone, so don’t be put off by other people’s idea of what that might look like. There’s also a list of links that may be useful here.
You could also consider the Self-Care Check-In, which is in my book Answers In The Dark; have a look at the video that explains more here. Hope this helps.
Whether you’re someone who has high hopes and big ambitions or just wants to settle on a particular direction in life right now, you may have been wondering how to get started.
A Vision Board is a great way of putting your aspirations into a visual display to help you decide and stay focused on your plans for the weeks or months ahead.
What are the benefits?
The purpose of a Vision Board primarily may be to help you formalise your intentions and keep them available to you as a gentle reminder of the goals you want to achieve.
Having a visual display of your aspirations that you see regularly can influence the choices you make each day, to help you stay focused on what you want from life. It can also act as a motivator whilst at the same time keeping you on track.
What does it cost?
You don’t need a lot of money – if any – to create a Vision Board. You can use apps like Pinterest, create collages (eg in Canva, see below) or use (preferably recycled) A4/A3 card and some glue (if you’re sticking images on it).
You might decide to do invest in a new notebook instead, and use different coloured pens to draw borders and shapes for each topic, or to accentuate particular words or phrases you use. This may be particularly useful if you have some favourite sayings or affirmations you want to include.
Some people use pictures from magazines or print family photos or favourite quotes, but others may draw inspiration by using different headers like “Physical, Spiritual” (see below) and write what they want to achieve under each.
What to include
You can put whatever you want on your Vision Board – because it’s yours – that you feel will help to motivate you whether it’s words or photos.
You might get started by using what’s sometimes known as a Life Wheel, or the Pillars of Wellness which I’ve included in the image below.
This is where you can consider different areas of your life and “score” each one , on a scale of 1-10 (10 being “life is amazing” in that area) to help you decide which one you’d like to make a priority. For example if you score “8” on physical health, but “6” on Spiritual, you may choose to do your Vision Board to focus on the spiritual aspect of your life.
You could do one Vision Board per area, or have one version which includes key things that might help you succeed.
However it doesn’t need to be that varied. You could if you wanted just have one that focuses on the specific car, job or holiday you want.
Topics you might feature on your Vision Board:
Physical – this doesn’t just mean exercise; it might be lifestyle, and how well you eat and sleep. (If you’re having problems sleeping or having weird dreams you might like my book Answers In The Dark: Grief, Sleep and How Dreams Can Help You Heal.) “Physical” might also include recognising your early warning signs (like heart pounding, or shallow breathing) of when you’re not ok so that you can manage it well.
Emotional – this area might focus on improving a sense of emotional well-being – like feeling fulfilled, or how well you know what you’re feeling when you feel it. Can you label your emotions helpfully? Can you distinguish between feeling stressed, and feeling anxious, for example? How good are you at reading your own or others emotions?
Intellectual – this isn’t about intelligence or how well you’d do in a pub quiz as such, but might include knowing why you do what you do when you’re not doing ok. For example, do you have unhealthy coping mechanisms, or are you curious about your decisions and how you make them? Are there things you want or need to learn or improve to help you achieve your goals?
Social – This includes your tribe, the people you spend time with. This doesn’t always mean just friends or family, it might also include colleagues and associates. How would you rate your social wellness right now? Do the people in your life lift you up, or bring you down? This also doesn’t always mean going out and partying. You might decide to try a college course, take up a new hobby or start some volunteering.
Professional – what do you want to achieve career-wise? Are you feeling fulfilled at work? Do you feel appreciated and are you using your skills meaningfully? Do you know what your strengths are (in all areas of your life) and can you articulate them? Do you recognise the transferable skills you have between home (eg, from planning a meal to parenting) and work, like juggling diaries/managing money and conflict resolution? When do you feel “in the zone”? (See also Spiritual).
Financial – this might be anything from being able to save money, cover your bills regularly, invest in a business, buy a house or clear some debt.
Environmental – you might choose to include this in your Vision Board if you want to be more eco-friendly. It might also include ethical choices when, for example, buying food, clothes or when travelling.
Spiritual – this is not always about religion, it might be about where you feel most connected. This might include setting an intention to meditate more or spend time in nature. What connects you to the world around you? This might also include your sense of purpose which isn’t always about what you get paid for (although it could be). Perhaps think about when you feel what Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi popularly referred to as “flow”, the state of being “in the zone”. This might be when organising a family get together or engaging in a favourite sport.
Once you know what you want on your Vision Board, you can choose a design that fits your aspirations and begin.
Where to keep it
This will depend on whether or not you want to use a physical Vision Board or a digital one.
I’ve mentioned above you can use apps (Pinterest can be great for that) but if you’re going to use your phone it’s important to keep the Vision Board where you can see it. You might save it as your Lock Screen as one example. If you’re going to have a paper version, then again keep it where you can see it every day, like your kitchen. If you choose to have a paper version, you can still take a photo and keep it as the wallpaper on your phone.
The more you see your Vision Board and it reminds you of what you want to achieve, it can influence the touch points you have throughout the day that help you to make better decisions in line with your goals.
How long to keep a Vision Board
It’s really up to you. You might decide to do a new one each month, every year or review periodically. You could do a Vision Board for the next 12 months or the next 10 years. You might decide to refresh it periodically because your hopes might shift, or you find you need to try a different direction of travel. Do what feels right and healthy for you.
If you decide to do a written Vision Board, as described above with headings and writing under each topic, this might be part of your regular journalling practice and so again, you can review it periodically.
This is a good video from Freedom Kingdom with some more ideas. I hope you enjoy this process if you choose to try it.
According to various commentaries, including from the World Health Organisation, insomnia is a global problem*. People acknowledge that the pace of life affects our quality of sleep, technology makes us easily interruptible at all hours of the day, and quite honestly there seems to be more to worry about every single day. No wonder so many of us wake up tired each morning. But what if something else is causing us to feel exhausted when we wake up?
When I was writing my bookAnswers In The Dark: Grief, Sleep and How Dreams Can Help You Heal, I realised many of us have bought in to a big myth: that we all need eight hours sleep every night. If you buy any popular magazine that contains a ‘Sleep Special’, they’ll tell you that eight is the magic number. Ironically, I believe this might be just one reason we’re not always getting a good night’s rest and so wake up shattered the next day.
The scale of this myth means that we now largely plan our day around it – if you have to be up at 6 in the morning, you might work back eight hours and think this means you have to be in bed by 10pm. But what if you’re not sleepy then? Believing you have to be in bed by the allotted time, you might now be tossing and turning in bed unable to sleep, growing more stressed because as far as you know you ‘should’ be in the land of nod by now. The irony of that is, there’s no way your brain will authorise sleep when you’re stressed. You might eventually manage to doze off but wake up exhausted.
But there’s another thing.
We know that we sleep in cycles (Answers In The Dark contains a section called The Sleep Cycle Repair Kit), and these cycles follow a particular route. We ideally go to bed when we’re sleepy, complete a number of cycles and wake up naturally each day. The problem is, if you set your alarm for 6am (working forward eight hours from 10pm), it might actually be set to go off right slap-bang in the middle of deep sleep. This also happens when we take an afternoon nap and set our alarm for an hour, instead of a short amount like 20 minutes, or the full length of a sleep cycle (about 90-120 minutes). You wrench yourself out of bed, trying to continue with your day, only now you’re experiencing what’s sometimes known as the Hangover Effect – you’ve got a headache, your mouth is dry and you don’t know what year it is.
So here’s the tip: ditch the myth and focus on quality not quantity. Some people will need six hours, others might need 10 on any given day. When you’re a teenager you needed more sleep, just as you might when you’re poorly, and as you’re older you might find you need less. If you have to get up at, say, 7am, but know you’re naturally awake at 6 o’clock, don’t trick yourself in to thinking you’ll just get another cheeky hour in – you might find you then wake up feeling groggier than before.
Of course if you work shifts, that can be more challenging as can be the circumstances that are affecting your sleep in the first place (the video below might help). There is a benefit in taking power naps when you can (I talk more about that in the book too). But where possible try to work out when you’re naturally wakeful and set your alarm for then, rather than wrenching you out of deep sleep.
Measure your sleep quality by how refreshed you feel when you wake up, and where possible try to go to bed when you’re sleepy and wake up naturally, as close to when you need to get up. You can also try some mindfulness activities (there’s a range of these in the book), as well as talk to someone during the day, about what might be keeping you up at night.
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Well it’s all been a bit intense here in the UK. If you’ve been watching the news (and I totally understand if you haven’t) I think it’s safe to say the word that best summarises the events of last week is “drama”.
Beth Rigby, a journalist for Sky News, said she’d never known a week like it in her career. She actually recorded a piece to camera half an hour before it was due to go on air on Wednesday night, and by the time it went live what she had recorded was already out of date.
Do you ever have weeks like that? Where it feels like all the plates are spinning and if you take your eye off the ball for even a second something might drop. It’s exhausting. Constant Policy or procedural changes at work (sometimes it feels just for the sake of it). People changing jobs so quickly. we can’t remember where they’ve gone. So many friends going through difficult times, it’s hard to know who to prioritise. It gets to the point where we feel so overwhelmed, we might shut down or lash out. (On that note, my latest blog about anger offers some thoughts).
Here’s what might help:
This week, maybe set the intention to Let It Fall. It might sound terrifying but sometimes we get so worried about what might happen, that the best thing could be to see if it does. That doesn’t mean be reckless with choices, but at the same time it can help to step back, take a breath and see just how bad things could get. If you have a tendency to try and control things, which is often in an effort to feel safe and mitigate risk, maybe reflect on the question “What risk am I afraid of here, and why does this matter to me?”
One of the things I cover in this blog about anger is how sometimes we concern ourselves with “shoulds” – standards we place on ourselves and others which can be unachievable. In the same way, this article encourages us to consider “Whose business am I in?” – in other words if you’re trying to control or change something that you won’t be able to affect, it can add to problems that are already there. Ask yourself what would it mean to let this go right now.
Ultimately, this doesn’t mean we excuse or ignore, just that we look down the road a little and see what direction we will travel if we carry on as we are. You’re allowed to rest, pause and reflect so do that as often as possible.
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You might also like: my book Answers In The Dark: Grief, Sleep and How Dreams Can Help You Heal, out now.