Episode 56 – Navigating Mental Health for Young Adults: with Kirsty Betts
Unpacking Youth Mental Health with Sarah and Kirsty: A CBT Therapist Discussion. In this episode, join Sarah as she sits down with Kirsty Betts, a specialist CBT therapist with experience in working in a range of services delivering therapy to young people and adolescents. Kirsty has recently joined us at Wilmslow Therapy and has appointments available on Thursdays.
We delve into the world of mental health for young people. Discover the availability and accessibility of mental health services, learn how to seek help, and explore practical resources you can utilise from the comfort of your own home.
Here a just some of the reasons why young people’s mental health needs to be prioritised
- Mental health problems among young people have been increasing, with about 20% of adolescents worldwide experiencing a mental disorder in any given year.
- Depression is the leading cause of ill health and disability among young people, and suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15-29-year-olds globally.
- In the United States, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) estimates that about 50% of all lifetime cases of mental illness begin by age 14.
- A report by the Child Mind Institute shows that nearly 1 in 5 children and teens in the U.S. have a mental health disorder, but less than half receive treatment.
- The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted young people’s mental health, with studies reporting increased rates of anxiety, depression, and stress.
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Mon, Jan 30, 2023 11:48AM • 45:04
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Kirsty Betts, Sarah Rees
Sarah Rees 00:09
Welcome to Ask the Therapist, a monthly podcast for everyone who’s interested in how our minds work building resilience through journaling, and all things therapy. I’m your host Sarah Rees, a mental health nurse and CBT therapist with over 20 years of experience in the field of mental health.
Sarah Rees 00:24
Hello, and welcome to episode 56 of Ask the Therapist. It’s lovely to have you here. I’m Sarah Reese, Cognitive Behavioural Therapist, and today I’m interviewing Kirsty Betts, another Cognitive Behavioural Therapist, who has just joined me here working in Wilmslow and I also had the pleasure of supervising Kirsty. We’ve been working together ever the last year, and she’s really kind of broadening out her private practice at the moment. So she’s available here on Thursdays. And aside from that, she works for 42nd Street, which is a fantastic organisation based in Manchester, who work with young people and adolescents. So Kirsty today is going to talk about mental health in young people and adolescents and provide lots of practical advice, and tips and links to where you can get more information. Because young people are becoming more aware of their mental health wanting more support, and services are really struggling at the moment. So we’re going to talk a little bit about that as well.
Sarah Rees 01:31
Recently on social media, I have put out submit your questions to Ask the Therapist, and I’ve had a lovely question. So I’m just going to spend a few minutes answering that. So it says, Hello, Sarah, Happy New Year. Is there such a thing as nostalgia depression? I find myself thinking about days gone by when I was younger and carefree. And it makes me feel rather sad, rather than seeing it as happy memories. I’ve always been like this, but for some reason, I feel it more now. At my age (this lady’s in her 50s) Do you have any thoughts or advice I could share on my podcast? Well, nostalgia depression, there isn’t a subset type of depression called nostalgia depression. But nostalgia is looking back wistfully. Sometimes we can do that with rose-tinted glasses. But my sense would be, if somebody’s looking back and feeling sad rather than happy that the something that they’re not getting from their life at the moment. And in the question, it says that she thinks back to days when she was really feeling carefree. So maybe that’s what she needs more in a life of now to have the ability to feel more carefree in her life today. And it could be a sign that there is low mood present. So with low mood, we, once we’re aware of it, it’s like a little bit like wearing dark glasses, you see your future negatively lay everything around you a bit negatively. So everything’s tinged with the lens of depression. And then that can make us look back and long for a different time in our life. So I think the work to be done is in the here and now. There’s something I share on my website, I share it on my email list, which you can subscribe to, if you go to my website, you can just sign up for my email list. And you’ll get a weekly email that goes through lots of mental health tips and advice. And sometimes I share something called the the mood builder. But if you wanted to email me, I’m happy to send that out to you. And that looks at when we’re feeling low in mood, there’s lots of research around that if we do certain activities, kind of like antidepressant activities, they lift our mood and the areas that you need to focus on are doing things every day that give you a sense of enjoyment, things that give you a sense of achievement, and maybe things that you’re putting off that are weighing on you a little bit. So we need to schedule these things in. So you need to have regular habits of antidepressant things that you’re doing every single day. And just like medication over time, you’ll be working on that serotonin and improving your mood. And we know this works from the research. That’s why when people come for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for depression, the first thing we do is look at what the people are doing in our lives and try to boost antidepressant activities. So hope you found that helpful. And now I’ll lead you on to the episode.
Sarah Rees 04:45
Thank you for coming on the podcast Kirsty. It’s lovely to have you here. Really excited to go through this. I think it’s a really hot topic at the moment.
Kirsty Betts 04:54
Yeah, definitely. Well, thanks so much for having me. I really appreciate the invite to have a chat and sort of share my stuff with you.
Sarah Rees 05:03
I’m always really fascinated about why therapists become therapists and work in their particular field. You work with young people in adolescence. How did you come to be a therapist? What drove you or motivated you to do that, and then work with young people and adolescents?
Kirsty Betts 05:20
So I think for some people, some therapists they sort of start out being therapists not knowing where they want to specialise, and then along in their career coming to their area of specialism. Whereas for me, it was a little bit of the other way around. So I first started knowing that I wanted to work with young people, and then came to being a therapist later on in life. I think for me, it sort of started with my own experiences when I was younger. So I’d had quite a challenging childhood. And sort of, particularly in my teenage years in my 20s, I experienced a bit of a rough time. And I think through that, that kind of led me into wanting to really sort of help other young people. I wanted to be the adult for other young people that that I wish I’d have had in my life at that time.
Sarah Rees 06:10
There’s so much around is there for young people. And it’s it makes such a difference if you work with people at that age, can’t it for the rest of their lives?
Kirsty Betts 06:19
Yeah. And I think for me, I was lucky that I did have a handful of people that were around for me, like school teachers, or like my grandparents, those people that really stood out and helped me and I think it made such a big difference. So I kind of wanted to be that person. Yeah, for the young people. But weirdly, like I sort of started out thinking that, you know, maybe I would do that through things like social policy. And I wanted to kind of go down the academic route. So my original undergrad was actually in sociology and social anthropology, just like massively removed from what I do now. But then when I graduated, I started volunteering for a young person’s charity. It’s actually a sexual health charity. So I’d go into schools and deliver workshops and things like that. And I just fell in love with it, like, working with young people just was so exciting. It was always fun, challenging, but I just absolutely loved it.
Sarah Rees 07:14
Fantastic. And I suppose the work you do now is kind of working with people’s distress every day, and working with the minds of young people and adolescents. How do you manage that for yourself, in your own mind?
Kirsty Betts 07:26
In terms of working with the distress of others, I think I’m only human. So you know, sometimes working with the distress of others can be really difficult. And I don’t think that ever goes away. As a therapist, we learn to kind of recognise when we’re when we’re triggered slightly, you know, we do a lot of training, and self reflective practice and being able to spot when we may be getting that feeling that distress ourselves. But I think it’s it’s about developing ways of being able to manage that. I mean, supervision is a massive one. And being able to talk through cases, talk through things that you find particularly difficult. Notice when things are maybe getting a bit a bit tricky for yourself and being able to take a step back. But I think also, it’s about practising what you preach. I do a lot of my own self care stuff, you know, I do a lot of journaling, which I know you’re a big fan of. But I do things like breath work, being able to kind of recognise when my body’s feeling a little bit off.
Sarah Rees 08:28
That’s nice, because I think our clients can tell as well, when we do when we incorporate what we we do what we talk about or practice what we preach, that really comes through. And in the in the UK or maybe globally, so mental health services are struggling. And I’ve been really curious to ask you, because you are working a bit on the inside, it might be useful to actually kind of say what areas you work in. You’ve just come to Wilmslow and doing a bit more private practice. So it’s lovely having you here now, but can you give me an overview of and our listeners an overview of the situation of services, what’s going on? And what the struggle is?
Kirsty Betts 09:09
Yeah, so like you were saying, so at the moment, I am working part time, privately, which I absolutely love but I do also work for a children’s charity based in central Manchester. So I’ve got a little bit of an insight into sort of both sides. But I think I mean, the picture of mental health services at the moment is really, really tricky. You look at newspapers, you go online, and it is sort of there is a crisis in mental health services. And I think it’s kind of a buildup of a lot of different things. I think, you know, funding for services has been sort of quite low for a long time before COVID. But then what we had is the situation with COVID hitting and young people and I’m talking about you know, teenagers younger than teenagers all the way through to people in their 20s they’ve had their foundations shaken
Sarah Rees 09:58
Yeah, it has been particularly tough hasn’t it? When you get your most sociable, you’re in your bedroom,
Kirsty Betts 10:04
They’re missing out on having friends, being able to kind of talk to other people have ways of, you know, experiencing joy and excitement and achievement. And I think particularly with the transitions, you know, from going from school, to college or college to uni, all of those times where we really learned from our peers have been disrupted. So young people have experienced that, whilst in a global pandemic of all of the uncertainty of illness, and, you know, worrying about loved ones and other financial strain for some people as well with, you know, not worrying about, you know, people losing jobs, and the wider society has meant that, you know, for the young people and adolescents, it’s, it’s a challenging contexts to be in anyway, so they’re a little bit more emotionally vulnerable. But then you’ve also got, you know, the situation in services, so services are underfunded. And there’s also a bit of a crisis at the moment with training and retaining staff. So there’s a lot of vacancies within services that haven’t been filled. And what that means is, there’s bigger waiting lists, and therapists have got bigger case loads that they have to manage, but they’re not really able to kind of work in a way that we know is most beneficial for young people, you know. Those long waiting times, being able to have regular appointments, and all of this has been compromised. And one of the other knock on effects of all of this is the threshold services. So I know a lot of parents get frustrated with with CAMS, for example, when they’ve maybe gone to CAMS and have been assessed and told actually, you don’t meet the criteria.
Sarah Rees 11:45
You have to be very unwell to actually get into services. Would you say you have to be at crisis point?
Kirsty Betts 11:52
I think it’s different for different localities.
Sarah Rees 11:55
Postcode lottery, kind of.
Kirsty Betts 11:57
It is definitely a bit of a postcode lottery, but specific, particularly in Manchester, I would say, Yeah, you know, I’ve been working in the field for quite a while. And and I would say that the thresholds have shifted, particularly within the last sort of four or five years, where, you know, young people do have to be quite risky, to be accepted in certain services. And, you know, we’ve got to ask ourselves, what kind of messages that send into to people, and to parents and those trying to care for, for the young people. So it’s a really challenging.
Sarah Rees 12:30
What kind of things are you seeing? What kind of presentations are you seeing? What are people struggling with?
Kirsty Betts 12:37
There’s a, there’s a massive range, a massive range of things. I think, a lot of what I see, I’d say, there’s probably quite a lot of knock on effect from from COVID. So a lot of young people that are struggling with feeling quite lonely and isolated, but also, they don’t quite know necessarily how to connect to other people. So we’ve got a experiencing low mood, depression, but then also feeling really anxious, being socially anxious, and maybe also experiencing things like panic when they’re in crowded situations where, you know, schools, lecture theatres, parties. They’re really unsure of themselves. But I’m also experiencing things like it’s seeing a definite increase in, like excessive worry. A lot of people overthinking.
Sarah Rees 13:25
Is that about future things, what the future is gonna look like or?
Kirsty Betts 13:29
Yeah, I think it’s, it’s that sort of living with the constant uncertainty of COVIDand the way that that’s impacted on our sensitivity to uncertainty, but it’s also those worries about, you know, look at cost of living crisis, and what’s happening in the market. You know, if you’ve got somebody who’s 22/23 thinking about career,
Sarah Rees 13:51
It’s all really uncertain.
Kirsty Betts 13:52
Yeah. So there’s a lot of that, but then there’s other things, you know, I work with such a broad range of issues. I’ve seen a lot more young people dealing with OCD, so intrusive thoughts and compulsions, which is sometimes around contamination, which, you know, linked to COVID. But other times, it’s about, you know, bad things happening. And I think we’ve been sat in this world of bad things happening, then also I work with of a lot of PTSD and trauma, seeing a lot more of the complex grief as a result of COVID as well.
Sarah Rees 14:26
Hugely broad. Do you feel that there’s stigma, it feels like the stigma for mental health and coming to therapy is reducing, would you say young people and adolescents are a little bit more open to therapy and you see that in your young people?
Kirsty Betts 14:40
That’s a really interesting one, because I think it’s a very mixed picture. So in some ways, absolutely. Yes. There is a reduced stigma that young people are really more self aware and have gotten a better understanding of mental health. You know, you look at things like TikTok, Instagram, social media in general, YouTube,
Sarah Rees 15:01
You’ve got access to so much more information now haven’t we? Which is good and bad.
Kirsty Betts 15:06
Yeah, absolutely. And that’s, that’s exactly what I’d say is that in some ways, it’s amazing. Young people are almost they’ve done a little bit of the work before they come to therapy room, they know what their difficulties are, they know what they’re asking for and what they need. Which means that young people are really engaged and they get a lot of therapy, sometimes it can go the other way, where you will, will read a lot of information. And they’ll give themselves kind of a almost like a self diagnosis. And we might have to spend a lot of time kind of normalising some of the things they’re experiencing, and really thinking about what does those labels mean to you and, and kind of working outdo they need something like a diagnosis? Or is it more taking care of their basic well being? But I think it’s also really important to identify the flip side to this, in that there are still groups of people that find it hard to access therapy. And that can be for lots of reasons, but particularly Black and Asian minority ethnic young people they can, or young men, particularly, there can still be a little bit of a stigma and a fear around talking about feelings, and about sharing your business with other people. But also, I think sometimes it’s on us as professionals to be able to recognise what, what are the specific needs of these groups of young people? And do we need to make adjustments in
Sarah Rees 16:28
And make things more accessible and help people see themselves in our services.
Kirsty Betts 16:34
Yeah, and recognise that for some young people, they will say, No, I’m fine. I’m fine. I’m fine. And it’ll take a while. And we’ve got to keep asking, and keep inviting that openness to talk and reassure that, you know, we’re safe people, this a safe place. Safe places. So yes,
Sarah Rees 16:52
Still a way to go in some communities. Many of the people listening will be kind of carers or parents and stuff. If we will had a young person, say child or somebody we knew that we’re struggling, at what point do you do we need to go to the GP? Can you give a bit of an overview of what services are out there? Because I think one of the things I hear a lot from parents is that it’s so confusing. You just don’t know where to start if you can get a GP appointment as well.
Kirsty Betts 17:22
Yeah, and I absolutely agree, I think acknowledging that, figuring out what are the services that are there and how do I actually get in the front door can be a really challenging thing to wrap your head around. So when to go to a GP? And what’s available? I think I’m going to split that up slightly. So when to go to a GP, I would say, firstly, if there’s anything that you’re concerned in terms of risk, absolutely, always go to the GP, even if you’re struggling to get an appointment. So by this, I mean, if you’re concerned that somebody is at risk of harming themselves, or you know, harm to others, I think it can be quite a, like a tricky topic to talk about self harm and suicidal thoughts, but it is really common. You know, a lot of young people, you know, teens to 20s will experience those thoughts at some point. And it’s always worth checking out.
Sarah Rees 18:18
Sometimes before we have any kind of psychological treatment, it’s good to get a good physical check isn’t it. Yeah, weight, have you bloods done, just make sure rule out everything else? So it’s a it’s always a good first step, isn’t it?
Kirsty Betts 18:32
Yeah, absolutely. And I think this physical health, diet, exercise nutrition, like medical conditions, can have a huge impact on our mental health. And it’s one of the things the first things I talk to young women about actually, or people that menstruate, is that actually periods can have a huge impact on our mental health. And sometimes even just addressing that and regulating our cycles can have a huge impact on your mood and how well we cope. But yeah, so in terms of going to the GP, always, if we feel as though there’s a physical health need, always if you feel like there’s some risk, but also, if there’s anything that might be, you know, hang on, is there something here that might need a further investigation assessment for diagnosis. You know, concerns about things like neuro divergence, autism or ADHD, for example, definitely worth going to your GP. And even if it’s not a right now thing, this is something that’s going to be addressed immediately, if we’ve got it on record, it means if there’s referrals that ever need to be made in the future, that it’s documented.
Sarah Rees 19:37
It keeps a consistency of your medical record.
Kirsty Betts 19:40
Yeah, absolutely. So in terms of going to the GP has definitely some guidelines on when you should be going to the GP and in terms of where to get support. So if you’re wanting to get a statutory service, so that is adult mental health services through the NHS for the child and adolescent mental health services going through the NHS, there is a bit of a process of a front door. So the first step is usually to contact your GP and they’ll talk you through the process of referral. And whether they think actually, it’s a suitable referral. I’d always check that out first, even if you know the waiting lists to really long.
Sarah Rees 20:20
Yeah, sometimes it’s worth getting on the waiting lists really early, isn’t it? Even if you’re not not sure, just because they’re so long. Round here, I think it’s different everywhere, for adults, they can phone up and do a self referral to talking therapies. Can you can you do that for children and adolescents – self refer?
Kirsty Betts 20:38
In some places, you can do a self referral for children, adolescents. So I think in the sort of Cheshire area, you can, like you can call as a parent, but they quite often, and I know in Manchester, it has to come through a GP or a suitable professional.
Sarah Rees 20:54
So if you Google the children and adolescent mental health services in your area that come up with the referral. OK.
Kirsty Betts 21:03
But the but there are alternatives. So within a lot of areas, schools, colleges, and universities do have their own mental health and wellbeing services. You tend to be quite limited with what you get in you might not get a huge long piece of work, but they often have drop ins or short term interventions, things like that. And the same with sort of voluntary and charitable sectors. Mind, for example, in Manchester, or 42nd Street, which is where I work from the rest of my time. Even though it’s a charitable sector, the work that happens in these places is still fantastic. The waiting lists can vary. Some services, particularly at certain points of the year, when we take on new staff that are training, the waiting list can be a little bit shorter. For example, I’ve known at times Manchester Mind waiting lists to be as short as three months. But then it can really vary, you know, it can be up to a year in some places. But there are, there are options. So you can go to your GP, but can also Google counselling and therapy services in my area. And there are some directories some are quite good and just comping Google. So there are other options, definitely.
Sarah Rees 22:16
Yeah, I always forget Mind as well. Yeah, you know, I never think to kind of point people to Mind, but there’s one in every area isn’t there?
Kirsty Betts 22:25
Yeah. And they’re usually like fantastic with that they have Mind tend to have one-to-one therapy. But a lot of the times they have things like one to one mentoring, which might not be a mental health professional, but it’s somebody that’s maybe a bit closer in age that can be a mentor for, you know, supporting somebody to push themselves and access, you know, groups or activities, things like that.
Sarah Rees 22:47
And I was going to ask about kind of how people manage on waiting lists, but it sounds like you’ve you know, these that you could go to these other services if you’re on long waiting lists. Is there anything else people can do when they’re on a long wait list?
Kirsty Betts 23:01
So there are some online-based services, which are a bit more like, not necessarily like a Zoom or a Teams session that our online chats. And so it’d be like typing, you know, like the instant message or types of lead services, they tend to have shorter waiting times. So Kooth, it is something that’s nationwide, and it is I believe 11 to 24 or 25. Their waiting lists are a lot shorter. 42nd Street have a similar surveys where it’s an online service, again, that the waiting times are a lot shorter for that. But in some circumstances, it’s an either or so you’re either on the big online investor or you’re on the online waiting list. But there are you know, things that people can do with themselves, you know, in terms of their own self help, while they’re waiting on for support. One of the things that I often recommend is, honestly, there are so many apps and books online sought resources, there’s so much that you’ve got access to now. So some of the apps that I use, I mean firstly, this is a bit of a tip – if young people are struggling with social media, I always recommend app blockers. I always say to people, you know, if you finding that you’re spending hours on tick tock and it’s making you feel a bit low or a bit anxious, who are you is this one person buy in against this billion-dollar industry of AI bots that are literally designed to keep you there?
Sarah Rees 24:31
Yeah, I need to do that with tech talk and I try and get in a pattern interrupt or or something to because I got an hour it’s like the crack cocaine of the social media world.
Kirsty Betts 24:42
It really is and young minds are particularly susceptible to the dopamine hit and it’s where a lot of young people hang out. So of course they’re going to end up getting kind of quite addicted to it. It’s so yeah, one of my number one things is or nearly every personal ways I recommend app blockers. Now it doesn’t have to be you block it forever and you don’t use it. You can block it at certain times, you can block for a certain time in a certain time of the day, like periods of time. So you might give yourself, you know what, I’m going to have half an hour in the morning or half an hour at night, or I can only stay on for 20 minutes at a time. There are some fantastic apps for if people are struggling with things like suicidal thoughts or self harm. Calm Harm is amazing. And Stay Alive. And these are ones that as a as a parent or somebody that’s caring for children and young people, I would say download them yourself and have a look. You can then have conversations about the app and and how to be able to use it.
Sarah Rees 25:44
There’s loads of nice little apps now – ones where you can record your mood. Finch. It’s a lovely like cartoony app. And it’s just asked me kind of how am I feeling right now? Yeah. And it’s a lovely thing to kind of keep up with your mental health every day.
Kirsty Betts 26:05
So there’s some fantastic apps. In terms of books, have you heard of the Overcoming Series?
Sarah Rees 26:11
Kirsty Betts 26:13
I recommend these all the time. Yeah. I mean, they’re maybe not as accessible for the younger age.
Sarah Rees 26:19
But for parents. I know my supervisor Mary Welford has done the kindness workbook.
Kirsty Betts 26:26
That is one of the ones I recommend. I love that one.
Sarah Rees 26:29
I’ll include a link to that. But the Overcoming Series, you’ve got Overcoming OCD, Overcoming anxiety, panic, social anxiety. Great parents to kind of read.
Kirsty Betts 26:41
They can be really good as well for like, if you’re on a waiting list, yes. Dip in and just kind of get a bit of an understanding of okay, this is maybe what I’m experiencing, these are the things that might help. And that way, when you come to therapy, you’ve already got a really good grounding.
Sarah Rees 26:59
A good head start. Yeah, yeah.
Kirsty Betts 27:02
There are also a couple of fab, fab websites I’d recommend. So there’s one called The Mix, which is specifically for young people under the age of 25. And that’s got mental health information and advice on it. But it’s also got things about my housing, and employment, and it does have a helpline and an email service. So you can sort of speak to somebody. The Mind website is fantastic for young people and for parents. On the mind website, each section, so for example, if you’re looking at low mood or anxiety, there will be a section that’s like, How can I support somebody else?
Sarah Rees 27:37
There’s Young Minds as well, isn’t there?
Kirsty Betts 27:40
So Young Minds is excellent. And they do have a dedicated helpline for parents to call. Which is definitely worth giving a ring if you’re a parent or another adult, sort of concerned about somebody else, because they can talk you through the sorts of things to ask your GP, the kinds of things that might help on a day to day basis, that sort of stuff. So I think they’re my top ones.
Sarah Rees 28:06
I’ll link them all in the show notes. Because it’s kind of what to Google isn’t it and some of the names are really funky, but you’d never think to like Google the mix. So I’ll really kind of do a lot of work of making sure all the links are in the show notes and stuff are shared on social media.
Kirsty Betts 28:27
Yeah. And there’s also some fab YouTube channels, the one that I really like, I think it’s called Therapy in a Nutshell. They’re like short little videos explaining things about the science of what’s happening with anxiety, and how we can take care of our bodies and things like that. So they’re quite short, but really informative and accessible. So yeah, I’ll make sure I share a few of those with you.
Kirsty Betts 28:51
So I’ve talked a little bit about, you know, physical things that you might find, like apps, books, websites. But there are things that you can do to take care of your own well being on a day to day basis if you’re struggling, and you may be waiting for support, or even if you’re not quite sure if you’re ready for therapy, and you just know that you’re struggling and you need something to help you feel a bit better. There was this fab piece of research that was done with the New Economics Foundation. And it’s called the Five Ways to Wellbeing. So they did this piece of research to look at what are those foundational things that can really help. So these are things that we’ve all probably come across before, but it’s a good reminder, to say, check in with yourself. How much of these things am I doing? How can I incorporate a little bit more of this stuff into my life? So those are Connection. So making sure that you’re reaching out to, you know, people around you friends …
Sarah Rees 29:53
Keeping connected. Yeah, yeah.
Kirsty Betts 29:56
And it’s also important to sort of physically connect with people. Not just the text message? It can be so tempting to just, I’ve sent my whatsapp that’ll do.
Sarah Rees 30:06
Actually see people face to face. Yeah.
Kirsty Betts 30:08
And particularly, because that’s one of the things that we’ve been lacking so much during COVID. But connection can also be those small moments in the day, you know, smiling at your neighbour, having small talk at a bus stop, you know, these things can brighten up our day and make us feel good as well. Another one is being active. And not everybody loves exercise. It doesn’t have to be running. I hate running. Like, if you asked me to go for a run, I’ll be like, absolutely no way. I wouldn’t get as far as the bottom of my street. But it’s finding a way of moving your body.
Sarah Rees 30:44
Get the serotonin go in. And yeah,
Kirsty Betts 30:47
Absolutely. And it can just be like, you know, going for a short five minute walk in the middle of the day, or something like, you know, taking the stairs and stuff, like, just just ways to get yourself moving. And another one would be sort of acts of kindness. So we as humans are hardwired to feel good when we connect and make other people feel good. And we mentioned that kindness book, you know, it’s, it’s finding those small ways that we can just connect us on you know, compliment, offering to make someone a cup of tea, you know,
Sarah Rees 31:21
That just has loads of benefits and making us feel good doesn’t it? Brilliant.
Kirsty Betts 31:25
Yeah. And it strengthens those connections. And then the last two, one is learning now, this is a tricky one. Because I think a lot of young people are bombarded but it’s about finding that thing that makes you dizzy, feel good. Lights a fire in your belly. You know, learning things like cooking, baking, gardening, painting,
Sarah Rees 31:46
So like learning but fun learning. Yeah. Not more science. That’s good. Yeah.
Kirsty Betts 31:52
It’s that getting a sense of achievement for something that’s not got a grade on it. That’s not got like a tick or a cross on it, like, yes, you’ve done it, no, you haven’t. It’s that oh, actually look at this cool thing I can do. And then finally, the fifth one is to take notice. Now we often call this mindfulness. Some people can feel a bit funny about the word mindfulness, but it’s just about slowing down, and kind of just taking notice of the things around you. It could be, you know, not be on social media while you eat breakfast, and not listen to music while you’re walking down the street and actually just looking around you .
Sarah Rees 32:28
So being more in the moment more pleasant to get the enjoyment from each moment, because we often we skip pass so quickly, and that’s we miss opportunities to lift our mood don’t we?
Kirsty Betts 32:39
Absolutely, and we miss those small things that aren’t quite pleasant, you know.
Sarah Rees 32:44
That’s a lovely reminder, thinking about just those five things that. And what’s that called?
Kirsty Betts 32:50
Five Ways to Wellbeing. And if you Google it, Mind have definitely got a little section on it. But there’s loads of resources out there. There’s even some nice little posters. You know, if you have worked with young people who love journaling, art or whatever. It’s nice to maybe do your own little
Sarah Rees 33:09
Be a bit practical with it.
Kirsty Betts 33:11
Yeah, be creative, do little, little journal entry of like, How can I do my five ways and come up with your own version of it.
Sarah Rees 33:22
And you you’re a CBT Therapist, you’re trained, you work with adults, but also young people don’t you? Is there much difference in how it’s delivered.
Kirsty Betts 33:31
There can be some differences. Yeah, I mean, I think, we all experienced similar difficulties. Yeah. So I think the kinds of problems that I see with younger people are very similar to, to sort of older adults. And you know, like, experiencing low mood and anxiety, for example, it’s common, regardless of your age.
Sarah Rees 33:51
Kirsty Betts 33:51
But how we actually work can be slightly different. I think, the actual delivery with a younger person, you have to spend a little bit more time on the psychoeducation side. You know, teaching them a little bit about how our bodies work, what is anxiety
Sarah Rees 34:08
because it might be the first time you kind of come across this stuff, whereas when you’re ordering bit more crinkly like me, you’ve been there a few times.
Kirsty Betts 34:16
Yeah. So it’s and I think there’s a lot more normalising with younger people, to explain to them that, you know, a lot of people experience this and what you’re going through is okay, this is common. In younger people, there’s a lot more that sort of the education and normalising, but I think you also have to be a bit more creative. You know, sometimes young people find it hard to talk. And so we sometimes use art based materials, you know, with the younger ones or finger paints and all sorts sandboxes. I don’t do that as much these days. But it’s about kind of trying to find ways to connect so that somebody feels comfortable. But I think what the differences as well, it’s like, the flavour of it with the concerns of somebody that’s in their teens, early teens is very different to the concerns of somebody in their 20s. And again, sort of somebody in their 30s and older. So it’s just about being really aware of what are the major concerns of a 15 year old?
Sarah Rees 35:20
And then I think one of the things that when we’re younger, we think it’s, we’re the only person struggling in the world don’t wait. So that’s kind of what you’ve just shared, there is really nice to kind of remind us that we all go through stuff, and we’re all a lot more similar than we are different. What what’s working with young people taught you do you think?
Kirsty Betts 35:42
Um, patience! Yeah, I think it’s sometimes working with with young people; you’ve got to be where they’re at. You can’t speed them to recovery, you can’t speed them to feeling better.
Sarah Rees 35:58
Yeah, processes learn, it takes time.
Kirsty Betts 36:02
And sometimes I think you can, you know, we’ve all been teenagers and in our 20s, we can see what they’re experiencing, I can see what they’re going through. And you really want to just sort of say oh there’s light at the end of the tunnel, it will be okay. But you have to let them get there themselves. And I think I’ve learned that you’ve got to give people permission to make bad decisions, to be able to make unwise choices and learn from them themselves. Because you know how many young people if they get told, don’t do this, don’t do that. They just don’t believe you. You know, they’ve got to feel it for themselves.
Sarah Rees 36:38
I was going to ask you what if you could give some parents or carers some advice? What would you give them? And I guess that’s one of them, isn’t it kind of let people make mistakes? What other kind of bits of advice would you?
Kirsty Betts 36:49
Oh, gosh, there’s so much there is so much that I could I could give. I think one thing I would say is to not be scared to talk about feelings. What I find a lot is that if a parents’ parents didn’t talk about feelings, it sort of trickles down, it can feel uncomfortable, it can feel a bit like alien to talk about, and it’s about having that courage to open those conversations up and to let that person know that you know what, I’m here, I’m here for it. I’m here for those awkward conversations. And you might not be ready now. But I’m still going to be here when you are. And where possible, try not to be too panicked. A lot of time, younger people will really worry about reactions, because they worry, they don’t want to upset people, they don’t want to worry people. So trying to you know, be open to have those difficult conversations but maintain our composure. Even if deep down we’re going Argh I don’t know what to do, just listen, which I think would probably be my top tip number two, would just be to kind of listen, and not fix.
Sarah Rees 38:00
Not fix, gosh, I say that a lot. Every every day to people.
Kirsty Betts 38:05
Yeah. Yeah. Because I think we often want to go into fix them out. Yeah, you should do this. Have you tried that? What do you know? Why do you think this is happening? But sometimes, you know, with young people, if their emotions are all over the place, what they need is to just be able to be heard and understood. And it’s not about jumping straight to solutions. It’s really giving that space to kind of
Sarah Rees 38:32
That’s really good advice. Sounds simple and straightforward. But it’s so important, isn’t it? And because if you’re caring for somebody, you just want to fix it. It’s actually really hard to do.
Kirsty Betts 38:42
And I think it’s it’s trusting as well, that a lot of the time, young people have got the answers themselves. Yeah, they know what to do their own. Yeah. Oh, yeah. And there’ll be like creative and innovative in ways that you’ve never even thought of, they’ll come up with something, you’d be like, Wow, that’s really cool. But you’ve got to give them the space to get there. So just think about like, how you, you know, when when you have in those sorts of conversations, how you phrase the questions. So you know, it might be asking things like, you know, tell me a little bit more about that. What do you think went wrong? And what what have you tried before that works? Or have you had any thoughts about what you need now? Sort of really open questions? And if they’re struggling, then yeah, you might want to give them a little bit, but really allow them to reflect and, and come up with the answers themselves if you can.
Sarah Rees 39:34
If somebody was considering having therapy, is there anything you’d recommend?
Kirsty Betts 39:39
Yeah, I think when you consider in therapy, one of the first things I would say is start journaling. If you’ve not doing it already start journaling. Because what this does is it helps you to really get clarity on what is it that I’m struggling with right now? What are the things that I really need to be different? And kind of how do I want to work?
Sarah Rees 40:00
It helps you get awareness of mind, understand what you’re going through. And it’s really useful information, isn’t it? Especially early days of, yeah, the first few sessions of therapy?
Kirsty Betts 40:12
Yeah, because I think a lot of times people will come to therapy. And in that first session, they’re like, I don’t know what to say, I don’t know why I’m here. And it can feel really sort of destabilising, and they don’t really know what to do next. And if you’ve got that general practice, that will just really help you to kind of get the most out of your therapy. I think the other thing I would say, is to just do a do a bit of research. How do you want to work? You know, do you want a space to just really be able to reflect on your feelings, you know, just more of an open…
Sarah Rees 40:45
So would that the more counselling you’re looking at?
Kirsty Betts 40:47
Yeah. So if you’re looking for that counselling, a lot of people don’t really know the difference between sort of counselling, psychotherapy, CBT. So really have a think about what do you want? Do you want to talk about your feelings, your relationships, the past? Because that might be a bit of a different therapy? Or do you want to talk about the here and now problems? Understanding those tricky patterns that you find it hard to get out of? Where do you feel a bit stuck?
Sarah Rees 41:13
And then cognitive behavioural therapy would be the right approach, more practical solution focused?
Kirsty Betts 41:19
Yeah. So have a bit of a think about what is it I’m struggling with? How do I want to work? And then it’s that bit of research about who’s the right fit? Because the relationship in therapy is so important.
Sarah Rees 41:30
It’s huge. In fact, they know, don’t they’re more than the therapeutic model, it’s the relationship you have with the therapist that predicts the outcome of therapy.
Kirsty Betts 41:40
Yeah, yeah. And I know it’s a bit more tricky. If you’re going through a free service, you don’t have that choice. But if you are looking at private therapy, take a bit of time, you know, call a few people, do a little bit lurking on social media and look at kind of get a bit of a feel for a person. And then then you can kind of match yourself up with somebody that really feels right. And also, if it’s not working out with one therapist, don’t don’t think that that means that therapy won’t work for you. It might be about finding the right time, or the right type of therapy, or the right person. So yeah, then that’s the main thing.
Sarah Rees 42:18
That’s really useful, and one question that I really enjoyed to ask and I asked everybody that comes on the podcast, if you could go back to your 15 year old self, what would you say to her?
Kirsty Betts 42:30
I think the first thing I would say to Kirsty is to, to just value yourself regardless. That it doesn’t matter, like what your grades are, it doesn’t matter if you’re good at certain things. It doesn’t matter what your appearances like, like you are a valuable person regardless. And that nobody gets the right to treat you badly. I’d want to say to them, anyone that makes you feel bad about yourself, step away, because other people will come in to your life that will make you feel good, and will help you to see that value in yourself.
Sarah Rees 43:07
That’s lovely. And thank you for this. There’s been so many practical ideas and practical advice and tips and stuff. And there’s going to be loads of links in the show notes and stuff that way that people can kind of dive in and hopefully kind of find the direction and the things that they need to find the information they need to find. But if somebody wanted to contact you, I’m sure you’re open for questions and stuff, or the people needed any more information or wanted to work with you, where do you hang out on social media?
Kirsty Betts 43:38
So I’ve got my website, which is www.feelgoodCBTmanchester.co.uk. It’s a bit of a mouthful. So that’s the best place to kind of find me and be able to sort of send me a direct message. On social media. I’m just in the process of relaunching all of my social media, so I will be on Instagram as @feelgoodCBTManchester, and also on Facebook.
Sarah Rees 44:02
Perfect. Thank you so much. I’ve really enjoyed it. Lots to go away and think about.
Kirsty Betts 44:09
Thanks so much for having me, Sarah. It’s really appreciated.
Sarah Rees 44:15
Thank you for listening to Ask the Therapist. For more information about the CBT journal, visit my website at www.sarahdrees.co.uk. You can also sign up to download your free guide to building emotional resilience delivered straight to your inbox. You will then also receive regular newsletters where I share my blog posts, podcast and tips and strategies for better mental health and psychological resilience. Don’t forget to review and subscribe to the podcast and you can also share episodes on social media using the hashtag #AsktheTherapist. This episode was written and presented by me Sarah Rees and edited by Big Tent Media and produced by Emily Crosby Media.