Mental Health Series: Vital Advice From A Psychotherapist

I’ve had the fortune of coming across and working with a range of interesting and intelligent individuals over the years – through blogging, work, family and living in various locations. Listening to their stories and what they do, I’ve learned even more so that we’re all making our contribution whether through work, our hobbies or by simply being ourselves. Meeting and staying in touch with psychotherapist Cathy Culloty was no exception.

Cathy is a psychotherapist in DCU, has a private practice and on the side works as a model while running a blog. She’s recently got married and is living her best life as a strong and influential young woman.

As it’s mental health awareness month in Dublin, I reached out to Cathy to ask her for her thoughts on a number of topics related to the stigma attached with mental health in Ireland alongside her general advice to anyone who might be suffering or needing some help. The benefits of psychotherapy, the future of mental health in Ireland and identifying the signs of someone suffering are some of the areas we discussed.

“Exercising regularly, good diet, getting adequate sleep, being mindful of alcohol consumption, talking about your feelings and not being afraid to ask for help” are some of the ways Cathy recommends that we maintain a positive mental health. Aside from these basics, she recommends taking some time out from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Whether that means a holiday abroad, trip to the countryside or a spa day – rest is what will allow the mind to recuperate and refresh.

Of course, we are all guilty of skipping some steps of what we know is good for us. A struggle with our mental health will hit any of us at some stage in our lives so, what then? There are so many possible options when it comes to getting help and support when we’re feeling unwell. ¬†With so many possible ways of treatment out there including medication, cognitive behavioural therapy and coaching, how does someone decide what’s best?

As a psychotherapist, I asked Cathy why someone might choose psychotherapy as an option of treatment. Describing it as something everyone should try at some stage in their lives, it allows one to understand themselves fully, rewrite stories from their past, heal old wounds and decide who they want to be and where they want to go. As a pathway of treatment, Cathy cites finding a therapist you can trust as the most important element of having a positive experience with psychotherapy. Of course, having the motivation to develop and work towards a more healthy mindset is the second element to consider.

Not everyone feels comfortable talking about their mental health and this is where the stigma comes in in Ireland and probably – externally. Feeling like you’re alone and being overwhelmed are some of the reasons someone might avoid getting help with their mental health while caring what other people think pops up as a reason why one wouldn’t reach out sooner than they need to. Cathy’s advice is to remember that “you’re not alone. No matter how bad things seem, there is light at the end of the tunnel.”

Unfortunately, not everyone will say they’re in a tough place and even more people won’t have recognised it. As loved ones, it’s important that we are able to identify when someone is going through a mental health challenge. Social withdrawal, increased sadness and/or irritability and excessive sleep are some of the signs to look for when identifying a mental health problem. More intensely, significant change in mood, hallucinating and delusions can appear in more extreme cases. In any event, approaching the said person to support them will mean they don’t suffer for longer than they need to.

When we discussed the future of mental health in Ireland, Cathy expressed her hope for its acceptance and progression into a more positive light. “I have a friend in the UK who manages a team and gives them mental health days which I think is brilliant and should be implemented into all work contracts”. The lifting of the stigma, further education and increased awareness around mental health are hopefully a premonition for mental health in Ireland.

In the meantime, being aware of identifying the signs, super self-care and being as open as we can around the topic will mean we take massive strides in the right direction.