Thoughts & Experience, Tips & Advice

Living with a mental illness: Counselling, CBT and various therapies

Here at ECBC we use our personal experiences living with a mental illness to help others. We are not medical professionals and if you have any queries about seeking help or therapy we recommend speaking to your doctor. We have written a post previously giving advice on how to talk to your doctor about your mental health.

Every week, 1 in 6 adults experiences a common mental health problem, such as anxiety or depression and 1 in 5 adults has considered taking their own life at some point. 

These statistics are alarming, but not surprising. Mental health is becoming much more talked about, and with this there are becoming more and more therapeutic ways to live with a mental illness. We have listed a few below.


Counselling/CBT/Talking Therapies

Counselling is available through the NHS and is often recommended by your local GPs alongside medication when living with a mental illness. (It is important to note that you do not need a referal from your GP and you can refer yourself for counselling or therapy on the NHS, however your GP can discuss with you what talking therapies are available and what may be suitable with your symptoms).

There are various types of talking therapies available:

CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapies) – the aim of this therapy is to change your thinking and the way you may perceive the world around you. This type of therapy is especially recommended to those living with anxiety to help control your panic and behaviours when dealing with certain situations. CBT is available on the NHS and also available privately.

Guided self-help therapy – this is where the therapist works with you to understand how you are feeling and give you helpful tools and techniques you can use at home.

Counselling – this is another talking therapy where you can talk to a counsellor privately and help address difficulties you may be experiencing in your life. Counselling is available on the NHS where you usually have 6 to 12 sessions, however there are also private counselors with less of a wait available too.

Behavioural Activation – this is another talking therapy available which mainly focuses on the steps you can take to help address your mental illness and why you may be feeling this way. This can be one-to-one but also can be through group therapy also. Through the NHS you can usually have 16-20 sessions.

You can find more information online through the NHS website.



Self-therapy is the therapeutic treatment for oneself to help with a physical or mental illness. In this case self-therapy can be something you can take away from your guided therapy with a counsellor and use those tools from what you have gained from the counselling sessions. This could be:

  • Using journal/diary/notebook to record feelings, to make notes to remind you of the positives, writing down the negative feelings as an output.
  • Finding some form of escapism or hobby to focus on – baking, reading, listening to podcasts, cleaning, etc. (We previously wrote about the importance of having a hobby whilst living with a mental illness)
  • Exercising regularly and moving your body can help the mind significantly, by going for a run, joining a sports club, doing yoga or pilates (it’s so helpful for those living with a mental illness)
  • Meditation is also highly recommended self-therapy for living with a mental illness to help with over-thinking and clearing the mind



Art and Creative therapy

Art therapy is a creative form of self-expression and a clinical treatment through the NHS to resolve emotional, psychological and relational problems. This therapy gives you some time and space, in a non-judgmental environment, to help you understand yourself better, resolve any complicated feelings you may have and help you communicate and express yourself. Mind, the Mental Health charity, offer this therapy as well either one-to-one or in a group setting.


Have you experienced using any of these therapies to help with your mental health? If so please feel free to comment below and share your experience.

It is important to remember each individual heals differently and so some therapies may work for you, and others may not. This is why it is excellent there is such a range of therapies to help those living with a mental illness.


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