Ways to help your mental and emotional health

If you are experiencing anxiety, depression or stress, your family doctor may suggest that you try a psychological therapy. These are sometimes called talking therapies. They offer an opportunity to explore problems that are affecting your mental or emotional health with a trained professional. They also help you to find ways of dealing with the problems.

Not all psychological therapies are suitable for everyone, so talk to your family doctor about which one might work best for you. Here are some examples of psychological therapies, but many others are also available.


Counselling allows you to talk about your problems and feelings in a confidential environment. A trained counsellor listens to you and can help you deal with your negative thoughts and feelings.

Counselling can take place face-to-face, individually or in a group, over the phone or by email.

Your family doctor may offer you some counselling through the NHS. Alternatively, you can pay privately to see a counsellor. The Counselling Directory has details of counsellors in the UK.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

CBT can help you to manage your problems by changing the way you think and behave. It helps you to understand the links between your thoughts, feelings and behaviour. This can help you to manage your problems in a more positive way.

CBT is usually provided by a trained therapist but psychiatric nurses and social workers may also be able to do this. CBT is also available through online courses.  Your family doctor may be able to arrange for you to do a CBT course through the NHS, or you can pay privately to do one.

Mindfulness-based therapies

Mindfulness is about paying attention to the present moment. It involves being aware of your thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations, and calmly accepting them. Mindfulness-based therapies include Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT). They can include techniques such as meditation, breathing and yoga.

Research suggests mindfulness-based therapy may be helpful for people with depression. However, there have been some reports of people having negative effects from practising mindfulness. A good mindfulness teacher should be able to advise you on any potential risks, and help you decide if it’s right for you.

Mindfulness-based therapy can take place in classes with other people. There are also online courses available. Your family doctor may be able to arrange for you to do a mindfulness course through the NHS, or you can pay privately to do one. The British Association for Mindfulness-Based Approaches has an online search tool to find a mindfulness teacher near you.


In some areas of England you can refer yourself for talking therapy without seeing your GP. This is offered through an NHS programme called Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT). Visit the NHS website to find your nearest IAPT service.


If you would like to see this information with references, visit the Advice and Information references section of our website. If you are unable to access the internet, please contact our Epilepsy Action Helpline freephone on 0808 800 5050.


Epilepsy Action would like to thank Professor Markus Reuber, Professor of Clinical Neurology at theUniversity of Sheffield and Honorary Consultant Neurologist at the Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust for his help in producing this information.

Professor Reuber has declared no conflict of interest.

This information has been produced under the terms of Epilepsy Action's information quality standards.

  • Updated August 2019
    To be reviewed August 2022

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