The team responsible for delivering therapy to those struggling with mental health issues in north Cumbria is reminding residents that coronavirus restrictions have not put a stop to their work.
The team at First Step Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) service in the north of the county is hoping to further spread the word that online therapy is available for all those who need it.
The online therapy is available alongside First Step’s traditional programme of therapies, which has continued during the coronavirus lockdown remotely over the phone or via video conferencing.
However, this online therapy is suitable for people experiencing mild to moderate depression, or anxiety problems such as worry or panic.
Computerised Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (cCBT) can help people facing these sorts of problems to learn new skills to overcome challenges and improve mental wellbeing.
There are also new programmes to support people who are struggling with the changes brought about by Covid-19.
Richard Thwaites, lead consultant clinical psychologist at First Step, said: “We use a programme called SilverCloud, which you can download to your computer, tablet or mobile phone.
“You can use this anywhere, at any time that suits you, so it’s really convenient and user-friendly.
“Especially at the moment, when people are having to adapt to a new schedule as a result of Covid-19, you can be sure that cCBT will fit around whatever else is going on in your life at the moment.”
One person who has recently completed a SilverCloud cCBT course told the team said that the program had helped a lot.
“Each module gave me a better understanding of my thoughts, feelings and definitely my triggers.”
Another person said: “I’ve recently completed the program and can honestly say the more I got into it the more I took from it.
“Looking back over several weeks, I feel like a different person.”
People usually work through the modules in about eight weeks, which can be adapted to help with a range common problems such as stress, anxiety, depression, and coping with a chronic illness.
Richard explained that trained staff will regularly review progress made while using SilverCloud.
“People work through the modules themselves, but one of our supporter staff will regularly review how they are doing and provide feedback, suggestions and extra advice based on what each person needs,” he said.
“You can send messages to your supporter about how you’re feeling, what you’re struggling with, or any questions you have.
“The replies from your supporter are stored, so you can go back at any time to revisit what they said to you.
“Some people find that they prefer talking to their supporter via messages on SilverCloud to talking to a therapist; there’s no pressure, as you can take as long as you want to write down your thoughts, and you can take all the time you need to process their reply.”
The modules have been designed by clinical experts using Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), a recognised effective treatment for mental health issues.
Richard added: “There is lots of evidence that SilverCloud’s cCBT programmes can be really effective for people who are trying to overcome problems like moderate anxiety or depression. That’s why we use them; we know that they work.
“Like any type of therapy, cCBT isn’t a good fit for everyone, but we see that people who are motivated to work through the modules get so much out of it. It empowers people to take charge of managing their mental health.”