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On Monday 19th July, in line with government guidance, we re-opened our Wakefield Talking shop for pre-booked face to face appointments. Whilst our availability is limited, we appreciate that many prospective clients have been waiting for news of our re-opening and thank you for your support in letting them know that face to face appointments are available alongside video and telephone appointments.

We are now able to see a limited number of clients in person at our Wakefield Talking shop and at various clinics across the district. We are still following guidelines around social distancing and ask that clients wear face masks around the building, unless exempt. All procedures are explained to clients before their face to face appointment and our helpful admin team are on hand to support people arriving at the shop.

Unfortunately, at the moment, we are unable to offer a drop in service and anyone coming to the shop must have an appointment.

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Ten years after her mum’s passing, Debbie* realised she needed some support to move on with her life. After coming to Turning Point Talking Therapies Wakefield, she now feels able to manage her depression and has been able to open up to her family about her mental health. We caught up with Debbie to find out how Interpersonal Therapy (IPT) had helped her when she was at her most vulnerable.

I heard about Turning Point from a friend who works in safeguarding at a school, I was actually seeking support for my husband at the time and she told me about the services you offer. It was a good few months before I came to Turning Point Talking Therapies but I was glad I knew about the service in the back of my mind when I needed it. I was motivated to self-refer because I thought that my husband needed support too and I wouldn’t be able to suggest he got support if I wasn’t willing to. It’s quite difficult to reach out for help as it means admitting you need help and overcoming the stigma attached to that but last year, I reached a crisis point and everything sort of collapsed in on me so I knew I needed to do something.

Last year was quite hard for everyone and it was at Christmas that things got too much for me. My mum passed away 10 years ago and her death had been something I’ve struggled with for a long time. Ten years ago, a lot of things changed – I finished my degree and got pregnant as well as losing my mum. I wouldn’t say I didn’t deal with it but I definitely put some of these things in a box and hid it away. This has been building and building so when other things happened, it would all end up relating to the loss of my mum and become unmanageable. As well as dealing with a lockdown Christmas and birthday, I hadn’t seen my dad in a year and friendships were becoming strained. Combined with the 10 year anniversary of my mum’s death, this was a really hard time. I love my friends and my family but that wasn’t enough – I needed someone else. Someone you can completely open up to without feeling guilt or any negative emotions for the other person. That’s when I came to Turning Point Talking Therapies.

When I phoned up initially, I had a lot of self-doubt about wasting people’s time but the guys on the phone were just brilliant. There was no pressure, no judgement and the tone was just right. The turnaround was really quick as well – probably less than you’d wait for a normal doctors’ appointment which is really positive. I was nervous about my therapy being done over the telephone but it was fine actually. I quite liked it because I could do ‘ugly crying’ without anyone seeing which was good. I knew when my appointments would be so I could come home and get ready. I’d make myself a cup of tea and get a blanket so I felt safe. If you’re going to be vulnerable, you need to be cosy and I was pleased to be able to do this in the comfort of my own home. I’m not actually sure whether I’d want to do face to face treatment or choose the phone if I was given the option now which is interesting. Telephone therapy takes a lot less time out of your day as you don’t have to drive anywhere but I guess there are pros and cons to both.

I liked working with Pete, he was really nice. I felt very comfortable being honest with him and was able to be completely honest – ugly truth honest – which I realised you’ve got to be in therapy or you’re not going to grow. Before I started treatment, I did a lot of questioning whether my emotions were valid, justified or real. I know that’s not a good way to deal with your emotions and I would never expect my children to do this but I expected myself to. Now I know this is not the way to deal with my feelings.  It was great to be able to open up and have my feelings validated and listened to. This helped give me confidence in my own feelings and so I could talk about them to other people as well as Pete. Before therapy, I was questioning if I was allowed to feel something and this meant I couldn’t reach out for support. Of course, after working with Pete, now I know if you feel something it’s valid.

I’m quite self-critical, my self-confidence is low most of the time and quite delicate but I found that therapy gave me confidence in my feelings and this had a ripple effect in me as a person as well which made me more confident. Speaking to Pete helped me validate myself as a person and not just tackle the complicated grief I was dealing with. Coming to Turning Point Talking Therapies made a difference in me finding myself as a person, it sounds over the top but it’s true. For me, whilst the complex grief was the focus of my treatment, I didn’t realise how much that was affecting other aspects of my life and how I was feeling as a person.

Since completing treatment, I’ve had a few friends comment that they can see a change in me so that’s really positive. It’s changed the way I talk to people in some ways as now I know what I’m looking for when I reach out for support and I’m able to express myself and my feelings more clearly which means I get better support. It’s also made me a better listener and communicator. I’m now able to talk about my mum which is a massive step for me. I’ve got 2 boys and I’m happy that now I can talk to them about her. Before, the relationship they had with her was ‘she’s dead and that upsets mum’ whereas, now, we can talk about her as a person which is really positive. It’s also opened up conversations with my dad and brother about my mum as we didn’t talk about her before which I think has been good for them too. Although it was me who went through therapy, I can see the ripple effect of the little positives it’s had on everyone around me.

I’ll be honest and say I can still feel a niggle of depression and I do worry that it’s going to come back. However, I have strategies and coping mechanisms to support me now and I know how to spot the early warning signs. Even though I’ve stopped talking to Pete, I know it’s not the end of my journey and it’s important to carry on with the things that we talked about in treatment. I also know where to come back to if I’m feeling this way again which is really comforting.

*Names have been changed

 

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Lauren’s depression impacted her self-esteem, relationships and most parts of her day to day life. After coming to Turning Point Talking Therapies Wakefield, she now feels confident to stand up for herself and not accept being treated poorly in relationships. We caught up with Lauren to find out how Interpersonal Therapy (IPT) had changed her life and find out about her future plans.

I learnt about Turning Point Talking Therapies through a social worker when I was in hospital and professionals were planning for my recovery. They realised I would need some mental health support as well as support managing my physical health and disabilities. I don’t think I was in a position at that time where I knew what I needed; I had been ignored by professionals for a long time so I had basically given up on mental health. I felt like I was at a stage where I couldn’t get anyone to listen to me – I didn’t know how to deal with health issues and stress and I didn’t get any help.

When I was first referred to Turning Point I was offered both online therapy and low intensity cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) but I didn’t feel that either of them were working for me. I recognised that I needed better personal skills to deal with social interactions and help to be more assertive whereas the CBT wasn’t supporting me with this. I spoke to my therapist about this and it was decided that I would benefit from interpersonal therapy (IPT) which, after recently completing this treatment, was definitely what I needed.

Before I started therapy, I didn’t see anything wrong in the way that people treated me as I was so used to being treated poorly. Due to problems in family relationships, my self-esteem was so low I couldn’t recognise that I needed to be more assertive and challenge the way people spoke to me.  Having a professional perspective on relationships really helped me to realise that it was unacceptable. We’d talk about what issues came up with people each week and I learnt strategies to change my expectations of how people treated me and be more assertive. Ed gave me an alternative, better perspective and provided me with resources to deal with depression and build upon my self-esteem. Without this therapy, I wouldn’t have found resources to help me deal with other people; my relationships wouldn’t have changed and I would still be depressed. Working with Ed gave me the ground work then I’ve gone on to do further research off my own back. All of this has led to my confidence and self-esteem improving enormously and a huge increase in my mood.

Due to the pandemic and being disabled and clinically vulnerable, I hadn’t been out much during my treatment and I’d lost some of the social skills and normal ways of life which I had before. Being cut off from college, where I’d meet most of the people I interact with, meant that I didn’t have the practice of dealing with people and I was really struggling with this. However, talking to Ed about my problems and the impact of these helped me to start to think in different ways and identify what I might need to feel less depressed about my situation. Ed helped me re-evaluate my relationships and, when things open up more, we suggested that I start to make a wider social network with good friends who are there for me. Before therapy, I hadn’t realised how negative friends, some that I’d had for years, could be to me and the impact that this could have upon me.

I’m really grateful to everyone at Turning Point who gave me such a positive experience. Everyone that I spoke to was really friendly and professional. Any time an appointment had to be moved, staff  were falling over themselves apologising which sounds like a given but I know from my experience this is not the case with doctors; hospitals and colleges and it makes a big difference to your treatment experience. Moving forwards I’m looking forward to being able to go out more and putting the things I’ve learnt from therapy into practice. Ed signposted me to new opportunities to meet people: I’ve applied for adult education courses and am going to getting involved in new programmes at the Richmond Fellowship.

 

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When Julie’s anxiety and depression came to a head she called Turning Point Talking Therapies Wakefield to get some support. We caught up with Julie to find out how Interpersonal Therapy (IPT) helped her improve her moods and provide her with new coping mechanisms for her relationships.

I have suffered with anxiety and depression for a long time. I’ve found that it comes and goes in waves and when you think about doing something it will get better and you think you can get through it on your own. It’s hard to say you have a problem. There were lots of reasons I came to Turning Point: my daughter was in a violent relationship which has been stressful for me and her dad for decades; I also have a weight problem which affects how I feel about myself and stops me doing things and having relationships with people. I felt like I was angry all the time and work was a factor which didn’t help either. If I was going to the shop, I felt like I could have knocked everything off the shelf I was that wound up.

It’s hard to explain to someone who doesn’t know how you feel so when this all came to a head and I was feeling so down I called the doctors and they told me about Turning Point Talking Therapies. I was apprehensive as I’d been referred before and I didn’t think it would work, especially over the phone, but I’m glad I came and I’d recommend it to anyone. Pete was lovely. From the moment I first spoke to him on the phone I felt better and found he was a calming influence. In our first session, I was really emotional and, actually, I was emotional for a few of our sessions. However, by the end of treatment I felt more like I was speaking to a friend about my issues. Even though I benefitted from telephone therapy, I would have liked to see Pete face to face. I realise there are benefits to telephone treatment like not travelling or going out if you’re worried but when I finished treatment I wanted to give Pete a hug and thank him for helping me.

I am feeling much better after my therapy with Turning Point. I’d be lying if I said I was 100% and I didn’t still get anxious but I have more control over my moods now and I’m taking actions to continue my recovery. I have suffered with my weight from being 20 and it still worries me what people think but now I try and think why am I worrying what other people think? I try and concentrate on me. My husband and I have bought a caravan so I’m hoping by getting out and about more I’ll be able to overcome the issues around my weight and go to more social events. I’m also trying to have more of a relationship with my mum and I ring her every day – sometimes several times a day. I realise that it’s important to speak to people and I spoke to my employer when I was having treatment which really helped. I’m also delighted my daughter is speaking to someone now and I’d encourage anyone who needs someone to talk to in order to reach out. I know therapy not a miracle cure and you’ve got to give and take on both sides and want to work on yourself. I realised I had to be honest from the start of therapy, otherwise you’re wasting your time.

Recently on my way home from work, I saw a young woman on a bridge surrounded by police and ambulance. I thought to myself how do you get to be so low? I just think when there’s things like Turning Point Talking Therapies to support people, why aren’t people talking? I know people don’t always want to speak about how they’re feeling and there is still stigma surrounding mental health but I hope that telling my story encourages someone to self-refer.

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Mental Health Awareness Week – 10th-16th May 2021

This year’s Mental Health Awareness Week theme is:

NATURE.

Nature is central to our psychological and emotional health and after the last 12 months or so – many of us cannot wait to get back into it, socialise with real people and see more of the world.

So we are planting a seed and hoping that it grows – letting you know that we can help you on your journey to better mental health and wellbeing. Here are a few ideas on starting your journey connecting with the outside world and nature – towards a better mental health and wellbeing

 

How to start…

Get flowery, get back into the garden – start small, a little bit of weeding, cutting the glass or taking in the view.

Visits a local park or nature spot with friends, family or simply walk the dog.

Plant a seed – start a conversation with friends, family and plan an outdoor outing – picnic, ramble or activity.

Make sure you stop and smell the roses – if you are working from home or back in a work setting – make sure you take regular breaks or lunch breaks and make it outside.

Strong as an oak – start building your fitness – with walking, cycling or running. Couch to 5K is great way to start: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/couch-to-5k-week-by-week/

Our service:

We have been very fortunate that we have remained open supporting people across the district and now more than ever our work continues – get in touch for more information or to refer into our service. We can help with: ·

Low mood and Depression

Anxiety

Stress & much more!

We also provide treatments for a range of more specific issues. If you are over 16 and registered with a Wakefield and District GP, we could help.

 

Contact info:

TEL: 01924 234 860 WEB: talking.turning-point.co.uk/wakefield

EMAIL: wakefield.talking@turning-point.co.uk

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I had tried to conceive for three years before having my son. After I suffered two miscarriages, we were desperate for a bay and we started fertility treatment. I’d almost given up hope even during pregnancy I was very worried and when he was born I just couldn’t believe he was here.  Unfortunately, due to the current pandemic, his birth and the months that followed were not as I had planned.

Firstly, my mum was due to be by my side as I gave birth but due to lockdown restrictions I was only allowed one person so I chose my partner. This was incredibly upsetting for both of us and my mum was really upset about it. Also owing to the pandemic, my partner couldn’t be with me until I was in active labour which meant I spent the first 12 hours alone. To make things worse, I had a very traumatic birth as my son was in breach and I had to have an emergency C section. I had to spend another night in hospital as my son was premature and I missed out on the vital skin-to-skin contact during cuddles with the baby I’d been waiting for all these years.

When I returned home things didn’t get much better.  My midwife was only able to come see me twice because of Covid-19 and she wasn’t very supportive the couple of times we spoke on the phone. Luckily, my partner and my mum were really supportive. But I just kept crying. I felt like I wasn’t a good mum even though deep down I knew I was. I work with children so I knew that I knew what to do but with my child I felt like I wasn’t qualified and I couldn’t do it. I dismissed this as the baby blues, thinking it was just my hormones and that once my partner returned to work we’d settle into a routine and things would be fine.

Due to the pandemic, my partner was furloughed and was around longer than the two weeks I’d anticipated. Whilst it was lovely to have him home, I felt like he could settle the baby quicker than I could so I would pass the baby to him when he cried which – as a premature baby – was often. This, again, made me feel like I couldn’t cope and wasn’t a good mum. Eventually, I went to see my GP. She said I had emotional turmoil triggered by everything I’d been through combined with pandemic.  She said it was medication or counselling so I opted for counselling.

It sounds strange to say it but speaking to Chege was just like having a conversation. A bit like when you talk to a friend but with more advice and information. I’m really close to my mum and I tried to talk to her but it was different; I needed someone totally away from the situation to speak to. Chege was a really good listener – when I spoke to him I felt like he actually had empathy towards me and he got it. Despite never meeting him, as due to lockdown we had phone calls not face to face therapy, I felt like he knew me. Now I find it easier to talk to my partner and I feel like he understands me more too.

My worrying was ridiculous before I came to Turning Point. Despite being exhausted after looking after my son, I couldn’t sleep for worrying as I just couldn’t switch off. Obviously, I still have bad days where I worry about the most ridiculous things but I realise it’s irrational and I try to stop worrying as much.  Seeing Chege helped me to be less uptight about silly things and I try to think ‘is it worth worrying about? Even my partner will say ‘What would your counsellor say?’ which allows me to step back and think. Now I’m sleeping better – helped by the fact that my son is in his own bed. I still check the baby monitor a lot but I’m more relaxed now. When he used to cry I would get stressed out now but now I can take a step back and relax.

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Jane* had a difficult childhood due to her relationship with her mum. She went through therapy at Turning Point’s Talking Therapies service in Wakefield. We caught up with Jane to find out how interpersonal therapy (IPT) helped her re-evaluate her relationships; gain confidence and improve her wellbeing.

My mum is a difficult character. She always has been. She wasn’t very kind to us in childhood and the normal mothering things that parents do didn’t come to her. Her priorities when we were growing up weren’t us; money was spent on cigarettes and bingo instead of things for the house or for us. We only went on two holidays when I was little, caravanning by the seaside. But she didn’t really want to be there. She wanted to get away from us and find the slots.

My dad did his best for us. He was a miner and would look after us when my mum wasn’t there. We didn’t really have other support because my mum would fall out with relatives including her own sisters and my dad’s family. Sometimes my mum would be out so late my dad would miss the pit bus so we’d have even less money to live on that week. I spent all my childhood worrying about money – I have memories of hiding behind the sofa when someone knocked on door, scared it was someone asking for money. My mum would often send us to houses with notes asking for money. We were sent to our classmates’ houses and it was so embarrassing but we were too scared and ashamed to say anything to her. Things like this went on all our lives, it was only when we got older that my siblings and I talked about our childhood when we realised what she’d made us do.

In October last year we found out my mum was in hospital. She’d collapsed while out shopping a few days earlier but she hadn’t told us. When she collapsed, I was so worried. Obviously I was worried about her but I was also worried about myself. I kept thinking ‘does she need us now?’ and ‘will she be reliant on me now?’; I didn’t think I’d be able to suppress the anger I’d built up over the years and I genuinely thought to myself ‘I’m going to have a breakdown’. My children were fantastic and listened to my concerns but even they said you need to talk to someone else mum, maybe you need some help. That’s when I came to Turning Point.

I came to Turning Point because I realised I needed to be more assertive. I decided I wasn’t going to be that frightened child anymore. I needed to stand up to my mum. But I needed help to do this. When Henriette called me to complete an assessment, I cried a lot. I felt shame. Ashamed of my childhood, as if what I’d gone through had been my fault. After 12 sessions with Pete, that had all changed.

Pete got me to look at things from another perspective and I saw that I had choices too. I was confronted with authority and, to be honest, I was struck blunt. Now, rather than having knee jerk reactions, it’s more a case of standing back; taking a breath and thinking it’s ok to not just be there for someone when they snap their fingers. It’s the realisation that I have rights too which was something I’d never had when it came to my mum – she’d say jump and I’d ask how high? Now, I don’t just do what I’ve been asked, or rather, commanded. I’m able to challenge my mum when she asks or tells me to do stuff. IPT helped me realise this authority and gave me the confidence to set my own boundaries.

Obviously, I did support my mum after her fall. Even though she has carers, I helped with bills; I did shopping and even washed her hair. But it was much more on my terms this time. I reached a point where I realised that the relationship I have with my mum now is different to the one in the past. I’ve accepted that I’m never going to make it better. But it’s a new relationship now. I’m also delighted that I now have a relationship with my auntie now so my support network has grown beyond my children and siblings. Turning Point has helped me to realise this and I am very grateful for Pete’s support.

*names have been changed

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Sharon experienced flashbacks and panic attacks after suffering a heart attack. She went through therapy at Turning Point’s Talking Therapies service in Wakefield. We caught up with Sharon to find out how cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) helped her overcome her panic and improve her wellbeing.

As an emotional eater for many years, I knew I had to make a change. I joined Overeaters Anonymous and lost five stone in the first year just from talking about my experiences. In the second year, I lost another five stone through further support and exercise. In August 2017, my life stopped. Literally. I was teaching a fitness class when my former unhealthy lifestyle caught up with me. The last thing I remember was going to bed on Tuesday night and the next thing I remember was coming out of intensive care on Saturday morning. I was informed that I’d had a heart attack and my heart had stopped for ten minutes.

In November 2018, I began having flashbacks. I couldn’t sleep. I was signed off work for six months and I would have panic attacks whenever I saw an ambulance. I came to Turning Point for counselling in 2019 and after several sessions I felt better. However, in January 2019, just as I was starting my PhD, my flashbacks and panic attacks returned. I went to a conference in my first week at university and I had a massive panic attack. There were so many people, so much noise and it was too hot – I couldn’t cope.

I started seeing Jo for CBT in April this year. We had 17 sessions together and it has totally worked. I don’t have flashbacks anymore, I can see ambulances without panic attacks, and I’ve even held a defibrillator machine!

Jo got me to write out my story. This was really hard, especially in lockdown. I got very tearful as I wrote my story. Seven pages later, it all felt very real and it worked. We went through my story together, slowly finding hotspots and identifying triggers. Slowly we started to process it and slowly the reactions when I read it lessened.

Several weeks after I stopped having nightmares and panic attacks, we started testing myself and putting what I’d learnt into practice. I watched ambulances on TV; we stood outside Pinderfields – from a social distance of course – at their A&E department watching the ambulances that I’d once been in. I wanted to get in the back of an ambulance but I couldn’t get in due to lockdown. Once lockdown had eased, I was able to see my practice nurse at my doctor’s surgery and she ran an ECG on me. At the start of the year this would have reduced me to tears, but I coped well with the procedure.

Coming to Turning Point has been so good for me, it’s changed my life. It was really challenging having therapy through lockdown, particularly doing it alone and online but you have to do the homework and be motivated to work through the tough stuff. You cannot give up. Jo was so supportive; she was there for me when I had my blips and supported me through all of my treatment. It’s like I’m a different person now; I still get mild anxiety but it’s not the PTSD at all.

I started my own company Big Picture Living in 2014 and I run that company now like I run my own life. As a specialist personal trainer, I not only look at the physical parts of our lives, I look at the emotional and spiritual – it’s all connected. All of my past experience, including my PTSD and my therapy, are involved in my practice. I try to help everyone I work with to develop their wellbeing and mental health as well as their physical health.

After therapy, I found it so much easier to focus on my PhD, because I have much more headspace now. My confidence is slowly coming back and I’m getting back to the old Sharon again! Coming to Turning Point has given me some hope again.

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We ask Oliver Markham, trainee CBT Therapist at Turning Point Talking Therapies, about his professional journey leading to Turning Point, his daily work and training, and about his passion for men’s mental health and the what should be done to help men get the support they need.

Can you detail your professional experience with before you joined Turning Point?

I did a degree in psychology, and then worked in learning disability services for about three years. I did some employment support for adults with Asperger’s. At 24, I went to work in the prison service, in Norfolk, as a trainee wellbeing practitioner. After that, I worked in Norfolk for another four years as a wellbeing practitioner; I worked as a locum practitioner, going around the country as a psychological wellbeing practitioner. I also worked in CAMHS last year, with children from 10 to 18, doing brief CBT work. And then this opportunity came up.

So you’ve had quite the journey. What did you have in mind when you started? Did you take your time to find exactly what you wanted to do, or did you experiment or take opportunities as they came?

There’s a bit of an idealised view with a lot of psychology graduates, about where they want to be and what they want to achieve. I think the reality is really difficult when you get there. I always had this idea that I’d like to work in mental health, maybe as a counsellor or a psychologist, but I didn’t necessarily know what that would entail. I suppose I had this semi-idea of the destination, but opportunities have come up along the way. In particular, getting into CBT wasn’t intentional. It was something that really resonated with me. I go the sense that things were aligning and it felt really right. I think I was kind of looking for something that, for me, I’m quite a practical person, and CBT brought what I liked about psychology and mental health into something meaningful that you can work with. There’s often these kind of lofty ideas associated to psychology by academics, but CBT is easy to understand, relatable – an applicable and real-life way of managing mental health issues.

Do you feel like it takes you on a completely different path than the one you imagined after graduating?

The course that I did was very abstract. A lot of it was research-based and kind of biological. There wasn’t applicability, and often I think, universities and colleges put all these ideas out there, but they don’t always translate in a way that’s meaningful for living your life. I think big part what I do now, it’s experiential, living day-to-day with and working with the person who’s experiencing problems. I’m working through the barriers with them, but maybe also going through my own stuff as well. There’s a real-world philosophy about it.

Can you tell us a little bit about what you do as part of your training?

I’m on a 12-month training course with the University of Sheffield. Three days a week, I’m in service. I’ve seen clients with a range of anxiety and depression such as OCD, social phobias. At university, it’s a series of theory-based, but also experiential activities – role plays, tasks. For example, we’ve done something called hyperventilation protocol: in a group of people, you’re given a straw, and you have to breathe through it for five minutes. That’s to get you to start having a panic attack. You’re experiencing, not quite, but similar symptoms to what your clients might experience if they were having a panic attack. We’re also taught breathing methods that would bring about palpitations, light-headedness. I really like this because it takes you to a place that you wouldn’t go to otherwise, and experience rather than standing as an onlooker. You’re going into what it feels like to be there with the person.

What is it that you enjoy or the most at Turning Point?

I tend to have a session in morning, another in the early afternoon, and finally one in late afternoon. I’m able to keep this a routine, which is helpful for my patients. Definitely the reason why I’m doing the job is the clinical work, and the prospect of change within the people I’m working with. For example, I’m seeing a person with phobia of flying, and she has managed to move forward from something that she’d never been able to face before. That is rewarding to experience that within session, and to be part of that experience. Beyond that, it’s a cool team to work with as well. Particularly at Turning Point, there are many different types of practitioners; relationship therapists, counsellors and short-term therapists. It’s really beneficial for shared experiences within the team.

How does it compare to your previous experiences?

Turning Point is a little bit more organic, a little bit more grassroots. It doesn’t seem as constrained as my previous roles, where there was a lot of bureaucracy. It’s also quite forward-thinking. The people who work here are relatable, and there’s a sense that a lot of them have experienced difficulties themselves, where they can really connect with clients. The work is really dynamic, interesting, organic. Even though CBT is quite a protocoled therapy, I think there’s an opportunity to bring yourself to it, and overall I feel I work in something that is important.

Do you have complex cases to tackle?

Working in Wakefield which is quite a deprived area, there’s a lot of abuse, a lot of post-traumatic stress, financial distress. The actual reality is there are no such simple cases, I don’t think it’s fair to say some are cases are less complex. I don’t think there’s such a thing as a simple case, because it’s people we’re working with and at any point, the game can change, new things can arise, difficulties can be overcome.  As much as possible, my supervisor tries to support me to find cases that we can work on together, and where we’re able to do something meaningful in the time that we have.

Do you know what you will be doing once you’ve graduated? Are you going to take on cases that you’re not taking on at the moment?

I’ll be a fully-qualified member of staff, so I’ll be taking a full case load – we’re probably looking at 20 to 25 patients a week. This will include people with PTSD; that’s something that I’m not particularly experienced with, and I’ll also work with sexual trauma. I’ve been interested in working with EMDR, which is eye movement and desensitisation. It is a particular type of treatment that involves reprocessing; it basically involves therapists moving their hands back and forth and the patient following their fingertips. The idea is that when we’re experiencing trauma, we don’t process it properly, within a memory. That’s something I got really interested in. I’ll be running groups and get involved. At Turning Point, practitioners all get to choose an area they’re interested in, an area of expertise or area of particular interest. Personally, I’m interested in working with young people, men’s mental health and staff wellbeing. I’ll work on developing community links, setting up events and improving accessibility and engagement for those subgroups.

Regarding the topic of men’s health, what needs to be done to help raise awareness?

There needs to be an ethos change and a cultural change around what it means to experience mental health issues as a man. The change probably is needed at a societal level, but I suppose smaller changes will need to come first. First, we need to look at the workforce we employ. We’re predominantly female in a lot of mental health services. When you’re presented with male issues or a male perspective on certain issues, it might be really hard to relate to a female that can’t share or doesn’t seem to share those viewpoints. At Turning Point, we’re about a 50/50 split, but at other services I’ve worked at, it’s been as much as 90/10 female. A lot of males will disengage from feedback, telling me they just couldn’t relate to the person. Sometimes it comes down to something as simple as gender. Right now there’s a large movement towards recruiting people who aren’t necessarily graduate trainees, but also people who have experienced mental health issues themselves. Another point of emphasis is getting the message out, finding accessible ways to communicate, going into workplace environments, thinking cleverly about our campaigns. There’s a really good government campaign at the moment: “Man up”. Andy’s Man Club as well, which is something that’s taken off certainly around here, a charity that runs every Monday and they meet up and talk about issues. I think it’s about how we encourage people to engage in therapy; there’s a lot of stigma around men being weak. I had a session last week where a man started crying. He said to me, “I felt like I wanted to leave the room. I felt like that was it. I didn’t want to be here anymore.” We need community-level involvement and action, change the way that we advertise, liaise with GPs, get peer support workers on board, have dedicated ‘champions’ in services. We need to be able to show to men: “this is how therapy helps me”.

Do people in the local Yorkshire county still have still have misconceptions towards therapy?

In certain areas, there’s a high level of deprivation, but there’s also kind of a disconnection, in rural towns, there’s a disconnection from the big cities. You get the sense that some of these towns have been left behind. There’s a prevalent sense of traditional working class mentality where people don’t talk about these issues and just get on with things. It’s seen as a weakness. My parents are both working class, they often tell me, “it is a hard life. Don’t complain about it. Stop whinging. Stop moaning.” Mental struggle isn’t seen as valid as a physical, social, or financial struggle. For a lot of people, getting through the day and making sure there is food on the table is a bigger worry than mental health.

Last month was Men’s Health Week, is there anything you would like to bring up on the topic?

I would say that, for me, men’s mental health is often kind of covert. In the groups of men that I work with, we shy around the issue of mental health. We banter, we make fun of each other and we don’t deal with the elephant in the room. I’ve worked with 17-year-old men facing college; I’ve worked with 85-year-old guys facing the end of their life; professionals and non-professionals; mental health affects men as much as it does women, but one of the things of being a man, which I have experienced, is that you’re alone with this. It obviously isn’t – we have thousands and thousands of referrals of men. But we need to somehow hold on to the idea that it’s not something we have to live alone with. It’s about trying to find the way in which people feel they can voice that without that shame.

If someone is in a difficult situation, what would be your advice for them?

Therapy can be immeasurably helpful. It’s really frightening at times to share your problems with somebody else. But I suppose I’d be bringing it back to how things are right now and how they could be. I know from my own experience, and I know from the people I work with, that therapy can, alongside other things, can be the thing that makes a real difference. Even when you’re getting up every day thinking, “I can’t do this anymore, I don’t want to leave my house because I’m anxious, I just can’t cope with this,” there’s still a light at the end of the tunnel. You have to be a bit experimental; this might work, this might change things. For me, it always goes back to – how are things right now? Do you feel like this is getting better on its own? Do you feel like you can go on like this, or are you willing to consider that things could change? Sharing it, even one hour a week, means that someone else is on board with you. They might not be steering the ship, but it means that there’s someone else in the back helping you to feel like you’re not alone with it. Think about what is there to lose; it might really be the thing that cracks the nut.