About the author
Boris Shoalwise is a non-binary bisexual person (they/ them) who is currently using 1-on-1 talking therapy. They have used a varity of mental health support options, and have used all of the options on this list, and have found what works for them. Boris works as the marketing person for Kalda and spends their spare time making art and eating too much ice cream.
Finding the right kind of mental health support is difficult. It requires a fair amount of trial and error. Improvements may happen slowly, but it is important to keep trying. There are many different ways to getting mental health support, not just through traditional one-on-one therapy.
One of the most important things to bear in mind when seeking support is that you aren’t alone. Mental health issues can make you feel isolated and trapped inside your own head, often preventing you from reaching out and talking about what’s happening.
As someone who has a therapist, I can absolutely vouch for the benefits of regular therapy. I also understand that not everyone has access to the same resources that I do. Everyone will have different preferences as to how they go about improving their mental health.
Here are the best ways of getting online mental health support, in no particular order.
Kalda is the world’s first LGBTQA+ community oriented mental health app. We provide daily reflections, weekly group mindfulness sessions and a keen peer support network, created and maintained by the LGBTQA+ community. The app is currently under development, our technical team is working hard. Our community is growing each day. We also use our platform to spread awareness about LGBTQA+ creators and their work.
- True community and peer support
- Run by LGBTQA+ people
- Group mindfulness sessions
- Daily reflections
- Access to mental health resources
- Full app is under development
Use Social Media
Whilst most people have a social media presence, it can be hard to reach out and ask for help. This is a difficult option to pick, because it shows a vulnerability which friends and family might not be able to perceive. However, I believe that it is an important aspect to consider.
- No monetary cost to ask
- Recommendations from friends
- Privacy can be regulated
- Can be filtered by location
- Just because something worked for someone else, doesn’t mean it will necessarily work for you
- Can make you feel vulnerable
- Leaves you open to judgement from others
The National Health Service (NHS) is a truly huge organization, which can make it very daunting for someone who is starting out. There are several services that can help you, for example there is a programme called Improving Access to Psychological Treatment (IAPT), which is designed to improve access to mental health services across the UK.
This programme is designed to help people with common mental health problems, such as depression, social anxiety, eating disorders and body dysmorphic disorder. As a result of the size of the NHS (and budget cuts), it can often take a very long time to be assigned a therapist through IAPT, and if you require referral if you have more complex mental health disorders it can take even longer to receive the help you need.
- Most services are free at the point of delivery
- Huge amount of services offered
- Accessible to everyone
- There are local services
- Often long referral times
- Unable to choose a therapist
- Little control over appointment times
- IAPT services are governed by local funding
- Help with more complex issues can be difficult to access
- The NHS system can be very difficult to navigate, often requiring advice from someone who has already navigated it
Workplace & Education
With the increasing awareness of mental health issues, more and more employers and educational institutions are providing free mental health support. This generally tends to be geared towards maintaining a healthy work-life balance.
The legislation on this issue is ongoing, there are currently two aspects to this which can be used to your advantage: the stress risk assessment (a legal requirement by all businesses) and the Equality Act 2010 (which prevents discrimination against someone because of a mental disorder).
There is no legal requirement for a company to provide mental health support, but this is an ongoing demand by pressure groups. Universities and other institutions will often have a department which focuses on student and staff wellbeing, which can be a way of accessing therapy.
- Contained within your place of employment or study
- Can help with maintaining a healthy work-life balance
- Often comes as part of the benefits of working for the company or institution
- Often involves talking to one’s line manager or tutor about mental health issues
- Can be underfunded or unhelpful
- Can be invasive and not particularly private or secure
Charities & Non-profits
There are many charities in the UK which are dedicated to mental health support, and these can be very valuable resources, not only for seeking specialist help, but often provide documentation about the disorder in question.
On top of this, they offer advice and documentation about broader issues, such as LGBTQIA+ mental health. These places are often an excellent place to start when looking for resources and advice on therapists and mental health support.
And finally, they can provide crisis support and helplines, which are all run by volunteers with extensive training.
- Free to access
- Extensive documentation and information
- Often running campaigns to change legislation around mental health and promote awareness
- Clear and impartial descriptions and excellent language
- An excellent place to start a mental health journey
- Excellent accessibility options
- No direct access to a therapist
- Advice can be very broad and not super personalised
Mental Health Applications
As the demand for therapy and therapists have increased over the years, there have been several innovations in the digital space for mental wellbeing applications and services. These are often designed to work in parallel with traditional talking therapy, but can also be used on their own.
There are several companies which have come up in recent years, including Headspace and Moodfit to name but a few. These applications provide generalised support for everyone. Many of these services are designed to be customizable; with specific goals and progress tracking, which is beneficial for several disorders.
- A wide variety of options
- Easy to start using, just download and begin
- Goal tracking & progress very useful
- Often lack community support
- Sometimes high subscription models
- Free versions frequently lacking in content
- Options can be overwhelming and time consuming to filter out
Finally, we come to the option that most people think of when it comes to therapy: a private therapist. The main issue that comes up with this option is the price.
Most therapists will offer a sliding scale of payment, ranging from anywhere between £30 an hour to £250 for an hour and a half. This entirely depends on your needs, your location and how the therapist likes to work.
The benefits of this option are several, one of the most important is that as the relationship develops, the therapist will gain an understanding of the way that your mind works, and help in several different ways, which depends on what your needs are. This option is often the most time consuming, as to get a full understanding of your needs, it often requires several appointments over months or even years.
The other major drawback is the fact that the therapist is another person, and the two of you simply may not gel together on some level. There are horror stories online of people not getting on with their therapists.
- The therapist can meet your schedule and specific needs
- Can be very effective
- Can be very expensive
- Finding a therapist directly is very difficult
- Trusting the therapist can be challenging
- LGBT acceptance isn’t a given across therapists
Lots of these can be tried regardless of location, especially because a lot of the world has moved onto the internet, so looking for support online has become easier.
There are people that you can reach out to, and even though it can feel impossible to seek the right kind of support, there are whole teams of people who have made it their mission to provide the exact kind of support that you might need.
Another thing to consider is that everyone is different. Your needs won’t match mine, and I wouldn’t want them to. Part of what makes mental health such a difficult topic to discuss in broad terms is that everyone’s mental landscape is very different. You are an individual, and what works well for you is important, regardless of what other people might say.