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Psychologist hopes new mental health website will help Camden sufferers

PUBLISHED: 08:00 20 January 2014

Dr Alastair Bailey hopes the iCope website will help people suffering mental health problems to access treatment. Picture: Polly Hancock

Dr Alastair Bailey hopes the iCope website will help people suffering mental health problems to access treatment. Picture: Polly Hancock

Polly Hancock

John Brogan realised he had a mental health problem while watching an episode of TV drama series Hollyoaks.

The 33-year-old music promoter had suffered with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) for as long as he could remember, but it wasn’t until watching the episode several years ago that he found a name for his problem.

“I wasn’t aware of it until I saw a storyline on Hollyoaks with someone who had OCD,” he said. “My partner saw the episode and said, ‘That’s you, that’s what you do – you should go to the doctor’.”

Mr Brogan, who lives in Islington, went to see his GP and quickly started receiving cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) through the Camden and Islington Psychological Therapies Service.

He said: “It was a really life-changing experience because I realised the things I had become accustomed to doing and that there was a way out of them.

“It was only when I engaged with the service that they were able to tell me it’s not uncommon, and it is something which is treatable.

“The problem never goes away but it’s made it 99 per cent manageable.”

Mr Brogan is now backing a website launched by the therapies service on Wednesday, entitled iCope, which aims to encourage residents in Camden and Islington suffering with mental health problems to seek help.

It is part of the nationwide health initiative Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) and offers a wealth of information on a variety of mental health disorders.

Dr Alastair Bailey, a clinical psychologist working in the Camden and Islington therapies service, hopes the new website will reach residents who may feel “shamed” by their mental health problems and reluctant to visit a GP.

He said: “There are a lot of people out there who don’t access psychological therapy because of the shame and stigma. For a lot of men it’s very shaming to admit you have an emotional problem.

“A lot of people don’t know they have a mental illness. For instance, insomnia – there are a lot of people who suffer with insomnia without realising it’s a disorder.

“A lot of people think it’s just a part of life. A lot of older people may feel low and depressed but think it’s just part of getting older.

“There is a lot of psychological treatment that can be really effective for these kinds of things.”

The website offers a search facility which enables users to type in their symptoms and retrieve information relating to their condition.

There is also information about treatments and contact details for support, as well as videos and downloads offering self-help materials.

Importantly, the website features a “self-referral” tool with which users can send a message to the therapies service and in turn arrange for a referral to a specialist.

To learn more about iCope, visit www.icope.nhs.uk

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