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Supporting someone with a mental health problem

lady is comforted by a friend

Supporting someone we love who is experiencing a mental health problem can be distressing and upsetting. Despite your good intentions and desires to help, you may feel powerless and ill-equipped to provide mental health support. Remember that for this person, even having someone check in on them may make a vast difference. It will help them feel less alone, as they are reminded of the fact that people care about how they are feeling.

What symptoms might they have?

The symptoms of anxiety and depression can vary drastically from person to person. Some of the physical signs you can look out for are:

  • Lack of energy or feeling tired all the time
  • Restlessness and agitation
  • Poor appetite or overeating
  • Trouble falling or staying asleep or sleeping too much

Emotional signs may be harder to spot if the person isn’t very forthcoming or communicative about their emotional state and their distress is not visible.

  • Changes in behaviour and demeanour
  • Low self-esteem and self-confidence
  • Seeming sad and in low spirits
  • Saying that they feel helpless or hopeless
  • Withdrawal from social situations
  • A lack of interest in activities that were previously pleasurable
  • A decrease in concentration levels
  • Being more irritable and impatient than usual
  • Finding day-to-day life difficult e.g. household chores
  • Trouble relaxing and symptoms associated with restlessness

Supporting someone with their mental health

Find a way to get time with them – Let you know you are there for a chat.

Create a compassionate space – Be kind, curious and patient; show your interest in helping.

Ask twice – Often we aren’t prepared to give a full answer when someone asks us how we are. Therefore, it is important to go beyond a passing comment and get to the bottom of how the person is feeling.

Reserve judgement – By fostering a warm and non-judgemental space, the person may feel more able to confide in you.

Ask open questions – Those that invite them to explain more how they are doing. For example – How are you feeling? Do you want to talk about it?

Active listening – Repeat back what they said to ensure you have understood it and pay attention to your body language, eye contact and facial expression.

Display empathy – Validate how they are feeling by reassuring them that you understand or sharing any similar experiences you may have. But try not to make the conversation about you though – always relate your experience to what they are going through.

Don’t try to diagnose – Or second guess their feelings or jump to conclusions.

Let them go at their own pace – Don’t fire too many questions at them and give them enough time to answer.

Respect privacy – Let them lead the discussion so that they can share as much or as little as they want to. Respect that the conversation may be nerve-wracking for them and don’t add to the pressure they may be experiencing.

Offer them help in seeking professional support – By offering to go to their GP with them for instance, or helping them talk to a family member or fill out a referral form.

Know your limits – Signpost to a mental health support service such as Community Living Well if necessary. However, if you believe they are in immediate danger, then always call 999.

You can refer yourself to Community Living Well here.

To sign-up to receive the Community Living Well magazine direct to your inbox, complete this form

Author: Tamsin Cogan
Category: Community Living Well, Employment, Navigator, Primary Care Liaison Nurses, Self-Care
Posted on: 24th January 2022

Overcoming obstacles with a long-term condition: Luca’s story

Man talking with his therapist about a long-term condition

Coming to terms with a long-term condition can be challenging, particularly with managing symptoms and making changes to your day-to-day life. It can have a detrimental effect on your mental health, causing anxiety and depression. Luca who has Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) talks to us on how the service helped him re-focus his life and adopt a new mindset on the illness and build his confidence.

What led you to be referred to CLW Talking Therapies?

I had a difficult time in the summer; I was emotionally eating at home on my own, feeling sorry for myself and depressed and had no social life. Sleep wasn’t good, I was falling asleep early, waking up in the middle of the night, staying up, watching television, eating and then falling asleep again.

The COPD team referred me because I was having problems dealing with the oxygen I needed to take. I didn’t accept that I needed it, so they got a bit concerned. I caught a chest infection that took six weeks to clear up, and I thought ‘this is my life, struggling to go to the next room.’ I was aware that I needed to take the oxygen but emotionally I wasn’t accepting of it, I feared I would become reliant.

What long-term condition are you living with?

My main issue is COPD, lung emphysema. It’s a chronic condition and it’s not going to get better. I was diagnosed in 2010 and have been on oxygen therapy since July last year.  I also have a cervical problem that is beginning to affect the tips of my fingers, which is annoying as I was a guitarist. I can’t play sports and it takes time for me to get dressed. I lost a lot of self-confidence as my health has deteriorated because of the chest infection. I have to use the oxygen whenever I move.

What did your therapy focus on?

My therapist helped me to re-focus my life, rather than fearing death. I realised there’s no point in focusing on things that I can’t control; it will just drive me mad. We looked at what was going on for me emotionally but also at my values and where I wanted to go. I went to weight management which was important because putting on weight affects my breathing. The therapy rebooted me and I had a renaissance; I was attending talks, a philosophy class, walking every day, doing cooking classes and sleeping better now.

Did you have any difficulties or challenges?

Using the Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) approach, my therapist was able to make me find tools I previously had. I didn’t always do the homework, but once the ball started rolling we were doing things on the whiteboard.  My therapist used it a lot to explore my thoughts and feelings about my illness.

How do you plan on keeping up your progress?

I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing. Exercise is good for my health, I meet people now, I talk philosophy, I cook every day and I’m mindful of what I put in my body.

Do you have any advice for others who are struggling?

Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. There is no harm in admitting that we cannot do it all on our own. Whenever I asked for help I’ve received it.

If you’re living with a long-term condition and feel you need support…

You must be referred to our Talking Therapies if you’d like to access the service. Please fill out the form available here or call 020 3317 4200.

Learn more about Talking Therapies and how it can help you here.

This story was originally published in the Winter 2020 edition of the Community Living Well magazine. It has been edited for website purposes. 

Author: Michelle Jackson
Category: Community Living Well, Talking Therapies
Posted on: 14th January 2022

Book Talking Therapies (IAPT) appointment via text

Man talking with his therapist

We are pleased to let you know that from 4 January 2022, those who refer to Talking Therapies (IAPT) will have the option to book their initial telephone appointment (triage) through their mobile phones.

We believe this will give you more choice over your appointments, as you will be able to select a time and date that best suits your availability. This will be a simple process: once your referral has been accepted, you will receive a link via SMS to click on and book in for your appointment.

In some instances, such as e.g., if you require an interpreter or do not use a Smart Phone, a member of our admin team will call you directly to book you in, rather than being sent an appointment link you may not understand or have access to.

Find out more about Talking Therapies (IAPT)

Refer yourself to the service here.

Author: Stewart Gillespie
Category: Talking Therapies
Posted on: 24th December 2021

Autumn/Winter 2021 magazine available now!

front cover of community living well magazine autumn winter 2021 editionThe Autumn/Winter 2021 edition of Community Living Well magazine is now available to read online.

In this issue, you’ll find articles on:

  • where to get support with benefits and employment
  • where and how to access specialist local services
  • the Well Read play-reading group
  • services offered by Community Massage London

We also spoke to Amal, a member of the local Muslim community, who has recently completed some Talking Therapy sessions for support with her anxiety. She wanted to share her story in the hope it would encourage others to get support.

Read the Autumn/Winter 2021 edition (best for desktop viewing)
Read the Autumn/Winter 2021 edition (best for mobile device viewing)


To sign-up to receive the Community Living Well magazine direct to your inbox, complete this form

Author: Stewart Gillespie
Category: Community Living Well
Posted on: 10th November 2021

Introducing Community Mental Health Hubs

doctor seeing patient in new community mental health hubWe are very excited to announce the launch of the new integrated community hub model in Kensington and Chelsea and the Queen’s Park and Paddington area of North Westminster.

Community Mental Health Hubs

The move towards Community Mental Health Hubs is part of a national direction of travel to bring together primary and secondary care mental health services providing a more joined up and seamless experience, both for people receiving services and their carers.

Over the past year, teams in Kensington and Chelsea and Westminster have worked closely with local stakeholders – GPs, local authorities, service users, carers and the third sector – using learning from other CNWL boroughs who are working to the new model and the NHSE framework, to design and implement this change.

Specialist mental health care

Under the new model, we’ve created integrated and local Community Mental Health Hubs, which promote community resources working together as one team, centred around local Primary Care Networks, to deliver care based on the needs of the population. The Community Hubs will provide access to a range of mental health specialists, such as GPs, nurses, therapists, social workers, pharmacists and employment support and navigators, all of which will work together to help people on their journey to recovery by providing interventions-based care (like psychosocial interventions, medicines management, and more).

Additional funding has been used to expand the offer, with the addition of more Community Navigators and Peer Support workers, and staff that will help provide dedicated support to those with Complex Emotional Needs.

The model is set up to promote simple routes for GPs to obtain mental health advice and support for patients, as well as triage led by highly-qualified mental health staff to make sure patients get to the right person first time. This closer working with local GPs will help to share learning, improve communication and avoid siloed care, and builds upon the work done by the current Community Mental Health Teams (CMHTs).

This will better the lives for our patients by:

  • helping service users access/receive mental health treatment faster when required, preventing relapse
  • ensure care is more personalised as service is tailored to local need of the population
  • increasing the consistency of care
  • making the process to get help simple with no need to repeat their story.

Community Living Well is the current provider of primary mental health care in the area. The Hubs join Community Living Well to deliver the integrated service. This improved service recognises the importance of community and will be working in collaboration with local charities and voluntary organisations to help people connect and make use of their local assets, as well as address social needs such as housing, substance misuse, carers’ support and financial advice.

This is the beginning of an exciting journey where care is joined up and centred around the service user to help them achieve the best outcomes and enjoy their lives.

For more information…

If you or someone you know is experiencing mental or emotional distress, speak to your GP. You can find out more about Community Living Well and the Community Mental Health Hubs, including how to self-refer to some services, at

Author: Stewart Gillespie
Category: Community Living Well
Posted on: 1st November 2021

Talking Therapies: Pierre’s story

Pierre had been dealing with anxiety and depression so he turned to talking therapy for support

“I hope by sharing my experience, other people will want to try.”

Pierre had been dealing with anxiety and depression for a while. He turned to Talking Therapies (IAPT) for support. We spoke to him to find out about his experience.

How did you come to hear about Talking Therapies?

I heard about it through my GP. I’ve been dealing with anxiety and depression for the past year. I’d been taking medication to help, but as I reached a certain point, my doctor recommended that I do therapy along with the medicine. He referred me to Community Living Well. They contacted me and explained how it would work, then we arranged my first session. It was very straightforward.

How were your sessions were run? What did they involve?

My sessions were arranged over the phone on a weekly basis. It has been amazingly useful. It’s incredible the things that I am discovering about myself through this, and about why I do the things I do, why I think the way I do, why I react the way I do. It’s mind blowing.

There was a diagnostic session, where the therapist assessed how much or how little I needed, and the type of intervention I needed.

I would say she was curious to know my circumstances, where I’m living, who with, what are my worries, and from that, she built up an understanding of what I’m going through. At first, I just expected that I would talk and talk, and then she would tell me a magic solution for everything.

But then she started to give words of encouragement, trying to acknowledge what she’s hearing. She was reassuring me, explaining it will take time. I was so deep down in a negative state of mind, but then I thought ‘I must trust the process’.

It started to feel like I was talking to a friend. The bond developed and I found it fascinating that I kept talking, and then I kept discovering things. When I got the most fundamental information about myself, it was when I was talking.

Were you given exercises or coping tools to practise at home?

Yes. I tend to have high levels of anxiety; I’m not living in the present, so to be present was the first thing. The therapist told me to walk around and pay attention to things that are happening, look at the buildings, look at the sky. Normally I would lock myself up with my headphones and music, then nothing else exists, but my head was like an engine, thinking thousands of things at a time and not being present.

They also taught me some meditation and mindfulness, and also some exercises in regard to self-image. To look at myself in the mirror and tell myself positive things about me. I used to reflect so many negative thoughts onto myself. I would worry about what my friends thought, but even as I’m talking about it now, I’m realising that that was me thinking about myself. The therapy has given me that awareness to recognise moments like that.

Other things included writing journals and physical activity, so to leave the house in the morning for a walk or run, get some fresh air and light.

It is a process, but I think I opened the gate to self-acceptance, to self-understanding, with an attempt to break this cycle. I’m actually amazed. I thought the therapy would be just like talking about what was wrong, but it was deeper than that. It gave a meaning to everything.

How have the sessions helped you? 

When I look back now, I was doing things detrimental to my wellbeing. I’m amazed at the discoveries I’ve made – it’s like I’ve woken up.

Despite everything I’ve been through, I wouldn’t change it because the way I feel about myself today, and who I am, I wouldn’t change for anything. I’m more confident than I’ve ever been.

I had a job interview yesterday. In the past, I’ve always felt ‘less than’, but this time, I knew I am not.

I truly have a different view on everything. Therapy has definitely triggered something.

Would you recommend Talking Therapies?

Definitely – even if you don’t think you believe in it, give it a try. Do it with an open mind and willingness to know that things will be better. If you are willing to make the next step and you want to make a change, I would definitely recommend it. I think everyone would benefit, but especially if you are struggling, this will be a life-changing moment for you. It’s zero to 100, it’s to that level. I’m so grateful – so, so grateful.

I would really like to help; I feel like I want to give back now to help someone else.


Our Talking Therapies (IAPT) team can help if you are struggling with feelings of anxiety and depression, you’re feeling low in mood, or if you are having trouble sleeping. Find out more about the service and refer yourself.

Find out more about CNWL NHS Talking Therapies (IAPT) services


Author: Stewart Gillespie
Category: Community Living Well, Talking Therapies
Posted on: 14th October 2021

World Mental Health Day 2021

prioritise your mental health on mental health day 2021Sunday 10 October 2021 is World Mental Health Day. World Mental Health Day is observed every year, with the overall objective of raising awareness and breaking down the stigma of mental health issues around the world.

The stigma and discrimination experienced by people who experience mental ill health not only affects that persons physical and mental health, stigma also affects their educational opportunities, current and future earning and job prospects, and also affects their families and loved ones. (Source: World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH))

Prioritise your mental health

Your mental health should be your priority because it impacts our whole life. We want to raise as much awareness as possible on this World Mental Health Day, and to remind you that Community Living Well is here for you.

We offer the following services:

  • Talking Therapies (IAPT) – Short-term support for when you experience difficult emotions, such as, low mood, worry and stress
  • Peer Support – Wellbeing workshops, one-to-one peer support, peer support groups, social activities and peer support training with other people who have had similar experiences to you
  • Employment – Advice and support to gain and retain paid employment, improve your employability skills and know your rights in the workplace
  • Navigators – Practical support with a range of issues including benefits, debt, housing options, access to health and social care services and support to access specialist advice and information
  • Self-Care – Support and activities that help you to take care of your own mental, emotional and physical wellbeing

You can refer yourself to the Community Living Well service here

These local organisations also offer crucial support. 

Author: Stewart Gillespie
Category: Community Living Well
Posted on: 4th October 2021

Pilot Mental Health Programme for Young People

Pilot mental health programme for young people: Teenage boy sitting in his bedroom looks anxious as he rests his head in his hand

Community Living Well Pilot Mental Health programme for young people aged 19-24 with mental health needs

The Community Living Well Self-Care service is trialling a new programme for young people aged 19-24 with mental health needs (in Primary Care), and who are registered with a GP in Kensington & Chelsea, Paddington or Queen’s Park.

The pilot mental health programme includes a choice of four options:

  1. A two-part series of (2) workshops – You may register to attend on your own or with a friend
  2. Seated therapeutic, fully clothed, massage or reflexology sessions for pain and relaxation
  3. 1:1 phone-guided meditation,
  4. 1:1 phone or online motivational coaching.

So, what is involved?

The two-part interactive workshops will explore breath work, meditation skills and the power of different pressure, to help increase confidence and capacity for decision making.

Both workshops will begin with an introduction to breathing/body-scan/meditation, in different positions (lying down, sitting, standing and moving), with discussion on how these affect the body. We break for lunch and offer a light lunch to participants.

The second part of workshop each workshop will be a practical session, guided by a qualified trainer. Participants will be given the opportunity to learn about the affect of different pressure, with discussion and feedback on how the it feels and whether it affects the body locally, mentally or emotionally. Participants do not have to take part in the practical element if they do not wish to but can observe and learn instead.

The session will close with a short guided meditation.

The Unwind therapeutic massage /reflexology sessions are aimed at improving relaxation and sleep and reducing pain and anxiety.

The guided meditation session, over the phone, will provide a listening ear and a focus to help with the concerns you express on the day and teach you meditation skills that you can practice on your own.

The motivational coaching via the phone or video call, will discuss which areas you feel need help with, provide encouragement and teach you achievable goal-setting strategies.

How to register

To register for this service, you must be aged 19-24 and registered with a GP in Kensington & Chelsea, Queen’s Park or Paddington. Complete this form and return it to [email protected]

Author: Stewart Gillespie
Category: Community Living Well, Self-Care
Posted on: 20th September 2021

World Suicide Prevention Day 2021

Friday 10 September is World Suicide Prevention Day and this year’s theme is ‘Creating Hope Through Action’ – a reminder that there is an alternative to suicide and that our actions, no matter how big or small, may provide hope to those who are struggling.

Many of us are affected by suicide or suicidal feelings throughout our lives. Even though mental health awareness has increased in recent years, talking about suicide is still widely stigmatised. Too many of us suffer in silence.

“I couldn’t see past the pain. It was a different reality for me. I only knew I wanted the pain to stop, the anguish to go away.”

We know that it can be scary talking to someone about their suicidal feelings, but it really can make a difference.

If you need to speak to someone urgently, you can contact the following:

  • CNWL NHS Single Point of Access (SPA) on 0800 0234 650 (24/7)
  • Samaritans on 116 123 (24hrs a day, 365 days a year)

If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts yourself, national charity, Mind, has some information you may find helpful, including how you can access treatment and support. And if you feel that your life is at risk, please seek urgent medical help now by calling 999 or going straight to A&E if you can. Mental health emergencies are serious. You’re not wasting anyone’s time.

Please take care of yourself.


If you feel you need additional support, our Talking Therapies service may be able to help. You can register for the service by completing this self-referral form.

Talking to people who have a shared experience and who understand what you’re going through can help you feel less isolated and boost your confidence. Find out more about our Peer Support service and how it can help you.

Author: Stewart Gillespie
Category: Community Living Well
Posted on: 8th September 2021

Talking Therapies Webinars August

woman laying on bed is viewing a talking therapy webinar on her laptop computer

The next course of Talking Therapies (IAPT) webinars start in August.

The Talking Therapies webinars can help to support you and teach you ways to help manage your stress, anxiety and other emotional difficulties.


Tuesday 10 AUGUST @ 4:00 PM – 6:00 PM

This 4-week group can support you in understanding low mood and how it can impact you on a daily basis. The group aims to support you to better manage and improve your mood through learning of different strategies in an interactive way. You are not expected or encouraged to discuss personal details of your struggles, and evidence shows that having peers learn together has positive effects for recovery.

Sessions include: psycho education of low mood and breaking the negative cycle of low mood, setting goals, motivation getting activated with different types of activities, negative thinking styles, and tips for well-being.


Tuesday 17 AUGUST @ 5:30 PM – 7:30 PM

This 4-week group can support you in understanding generalised anxiety and how it can impact you on a daily basis. The group aims to support you to better manage your anxiety by learning different strategies in an interactive way. You are not expected or encouraged to discuss personal details of your struggles, and evidence shows that having peers learn together has positive effects for recovery.

Sessions include: psycho education of generalised anxiety and breaking the cycle of worry, how to deal with multiple worries and relaxation techniques.

These courses are available for people aged 16 and over who are registered with a GP in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, or the Queen’s Park and Paddington areas of Westminster.

To attend this group you must be registered with the Community Living Well Talking Therapies (IAPT) service. To refer yourself please complete this quick online form or call 020 3317 4200.

Find out more about the Talking Therapies (IAPT) service

Other events, workshops and webinars

You can find out about all of our upcoming events here. The calendar is updated regularly, so be sure to check back for all of the latest information.


Author: Stewart Gillespie
Category: Community Living Well, Talking Therapies
Posted on: 4th August 2021

SMART St Mary Abbots Rehabilitation and Training