When Merton resident Sanya* was looking for help to cope with the chronic pain she struggled with every day, she did not expect to find relief at a wellbeing workshop.
But the workshop helped her understand how the way she was feeling emotionally could also affect how she feels physically. She also learned about practical techniques she could use to lessen the pain, such as relaxation and meditation.
We want to encourage people to come forward for these courses, which give real-life support for challenges we all face.
In addition, Sanya had not realised just how much the constant pain was affecting her mental health – leaving her feeling down and isolated.
After joining her first Merton Talking Therapies (formerly Merton Uplift) group workshop on a Monday, she referred herself to a therapist to help with her mental health. By Thursday she had a clinical plan of treatment and felt more positive about the future.
Merton Talking Therapies supports residents with their mental health and wellbeing through therapies and wellbeing courses. Every week in Merton, 100 people contact the service for help. It has recently expanded the range of courses to cover the challenges of coping with the menopause, cost of living pressures, diabetes, family caring, long Covid and heart conditions.
Wellbeing manager Sarah McDonald said: “We want to encourage people to come forward for these courses, which give real-life support for challenges we all face. One in four of us will need mental health support at some time By seeking help when struggles start, life can get better. Do not wait until a crisis happens – you can contact us when stressful situations begin.”
Sarah added “The workshops are a really great way of giving people immediate coping strategies while they are waiting for longer term therapy. We have also found people like to meet others in similar situations. It is beneficial for them to know they are not alone and gain valuable advice too.”
The workshops are a really great way of giving people immediate coping strategies while they are waiting for longer term therapy.
Courses are held at convenient locations across the borough in libraries and community centres and normally sessions last for 90 minutes.
According to Sarah: “People can come along to talk about their mental health in a safe, non-judgmental way using language that makes sense. Sometimes clinical words like depression and anxiety may not mean as much when people are living in tough situations.”
At the end of the workshop people are given information on wider support and services in the area. People can refer themselves directly to the courses and therapies provided they live in Merton or are registered with a Merton GP.
The living well with chronic pain course is an opportunity to identity and reflect on how physical pain can affect mood and wellbeing and learn coping strategies.
A new course on mood and menopause is also proving popular to increase understanding of how physical and mental symptoms affect women and the helpful strategies that can relieve symptoms.
NHS Merton Talking Therapies, formerly Merton Uplift, is one of a number of Talking Therapies services available to south west London residents.
NHS Talking Therapies offer effective and confidential treatments for common mental health problems like stress, anxiety and depression. Help is available in person, by video, over the phone or as an online course. You can refer yourself directly without a referral from a GP, or a GP can refer you.
*The name Sanya is used as a pseudonym