Mental Health Training

Making use of Self-Help in Mental Health, By Jane McNeice

Posted by on 25 May, 2016 in Mental Health | 0 comments

Making use of Self-Help in Mental Health, By Jane McNeice

With reports of increasingly long waiting times for mental health services, and ensuring we also gain maximum benefit from therapeutic interventions when they are accessed, it becomes all the more important that we make use of complementary strategies such as ‘self-help’ for managing mental health and well-being.

With current interest in social models of recovery, including social prescribing, there’s an increased readiness from professionals to advocate recovery models other than those typically seen as arising from the medical model. Self-help strategies include a wide range of activities that are user-led, helping us to feel empowered and central to our recovery. At a time when motivation can be low, self-help can provide opportunities to make small steps and achieve managed goals. They ensure that recovery goes beyond our biochemistry, and help to prevent the isolation and risks of social exclusion all too often associated with mental ill health.

There’s a wide range of ways that we can manage our own mental health including:

  • Self-help and personal development books
  • Joining a support group, and/or peer support training
  • Sharing stories of personal lived experience with others
  • Learning a new skill or taking up a hobby
  • Exercise, including light exercise or yoga
  • Training courses in personal development and soft skills e.g. interpersonal skills
  • Mindfulness
  • Art and creative activities that provide opportunities for self expression
  • Self help tools and resources available on-line, such as those available at
  • Goal setting
  • Living a healthy lifestyle e.g. eating healthily, reducing alcohol intake
  • Relaxation techniques
  • Spending time with others
  • Breathing and re-focussing exercises
  • Helping others e.g. volunteering
  • Complimentary therapies e.g. acupuncture, reflexology, or aromatherapy
  • Exploring faith, and/or having a faith
  • Keeping a diary or journal, or blogging about your experiences to share with others

Benefits of self help are wide and varied, but include feeling empowered, in control of the recovery process and pace of recovery interventions, ensuring choice is led by the user, flexibility, preventing deterioration of mental health and wellbeing, reducing recovery time, learning, and maintaining privacy if you are uncomfortable with others knowing about your mental health. Many self-help strategies are low cost or free helping to enable accessibility by all.

If you want to explore self-help further, a self-care Toolkit for long term health conditions is available via NHS Choices:

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