Seeking Professional Support for Mental Health Issues in London

Are you or someone you know struggling with mental health issues and seeking counselling in London? Mental health issues can be difficult to manage and can have a significant impact on your life. Fortunately, there are a number of support groups available to help those in need. Each of these anti-stigma programs consists of multiple components aimed at specific target groups. These programs are designed to reduce the stigma associated with mental health issues and to facilitate access to care.

The relationship between stigma and discrimination and access to care is multifaceted; stigma and discrimination can prevent access at the institutional level, community level, and individual level. Descriptive studies and epidemiological surveys suggest powerful factors that increase the likelihood of avoiding treatment, delays in care, and interruption of the use of services include lack of knowledge about characteristics and treatability of mental illness, ignorance about how to access evaluation and treatment, prejudices against people who have a mental illness, and expectations of discrimination against people who are diagnosed with mental illness. Addressing public stigma could reduce experienced and expected stigma among service users and facilitate seeking help and participation in mental health care. For example, individual users of services who live in countries with higher rates of seeking help and using treatment, in addition to a better perception of access to information on how to treat mental health problems and less stigmatizing attitudes, tended to have lower rates of self-stigma and perceived discrimination. Globally, stigmatizing attitudes persist among the public and have been shown to be prevalent and are associated with a reluctance to seek help.

Specifically, beliefs about the effectiveness of treatment and services have been shown to influence post-treatment behavior from the outset. This is significant because currently people only access services once they have experienced significant disability, clinical symptoms, and stigma, and these effects can be difficult to reverse. Stigma and discrimination and their influence on access to care can vary depending on the experience of mental distress or other sociodemographic factors. For example, psychotic disorders are highly stigmatizing and people with psychosis are more likely to be perceived as violent and unpredictable compared to people with other mental health problems. This can result in high levels of experienced and expected discrimination in health care settings.

In addition, substance abuse is systematically associated with high rates of public stigma and institutional discrimination, which can discourage people with substance abuse problems from receiving medical care; these people fear that healthcare providers will treat them poorly. Multiple stigma between specific subpopulations can also exacerbate barriers to care. Different ethnic groups may have different histories and experiences with the health system and, therefore, certain barriers may be more prevalent among people from different ethnic groups. Because of the complex multifaceted nature of stigma and discrimination and the resulting barriers associated with access to care, solutions to reduce stigma and discrimination and facilitate access to care must be equally diverse. In the United Kingdom, there are related but separate national programs to reduce stigma and discrimination in Scotland, England, and Wales.

Similar programs are also running in New Zealand (Like Minds Like Mine), Canada (Opening Minds) and Denmark (One of Us).If you've had persistent symptoms of mental health problems for weeks or even months, it's time to seek professional support. Your GP is a good starting point; they can provide advice on available support groups in your area or refer you for further assessment if necessary. There are also a number of online resources available that provide information on support groups for those seeking counselling in London. We thank Sue Baker, Maggie Gibbons, Paul Farmer from Mind, Paul Corry, Mark Davies from Rethink Mental Illness, and Gillian Taylor from TNS BMRB for their collaboration.

Arlene Manton
Arlene Manton

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