Today is World Mental Health Day, the annual global celebration of mental health education, awareness and advocacy, with a focus this year on schizophrenia. This comes in the same week as the coalition government announcing a renewed commitment to mental health services, with new waiting-time targets—the £120 million scheme promises NHS talking therapy for three-quarters of patients that need it within six weeks of referral, with 95 percent starting treatment after a maximum wait of 18 weeks. Those with more serious issues will be offered treatment within two weeks of referral. The aim is to take mental health as seriously as physical health (newsflash: they are related!) and challenge taboos and stigmas.
Said deputy prime minister Nick Clegg at his annual LibDem party conference: “I want this to be a country where a young dad chatting at school gates will feel as comfortable discussing anxiety, stress, depression, as the mum who is explaining she sprained her ankle.”
Good. This seems like an auspicious day to launch my blog. Over the coming weeks and months, I'll be commenting on news stories and mental health issues; exploring some of the people and philosophies from psychology's rich history; offering up some thoughts and ideas which I hope might be helpful to those in distress; and writing just a little bit about being a novice counsellor. I won't be writing much about me personally because that wouldn't be interesting, relevant or appropriate—knowing too much about your counsellor can distort or limit how you are in the consulting room, how you interact, what you share and what you withhold, and what emerges from your unconscious regarding your thoughts and feelings towards the other, which can be rich material to work with (this is known in the trade as “transference"). And of course, confidentiality is absolutely vital in this work: I will never write about a particular client in any detail unless I have their specific permission.
As with life, this blog will be eclectic, organic, and full of wrong turns and blind alleys. I'll be making it up as I go. It doesn't matter where it leads.
Perhaps you could help me. I hope this might be less of a blog and more of a conversation. Would you like to bookmark this page and come along for the ride?