Written by Katherine Nicholls
Katherine Nicholls
Counselling Directory Content Team

Some of us struggle with mental illness more than others, but taking care of our mental health is something we should all be thinking about. Just like our physical health, we need to be intentional about it and investing in self-care and self-help is a great way to look after our mental well-being day-to-day.

Here we’ll share resources on self-help, self-care and how to know when it’s the right time to seek support from a professional.

Do I need self-help or professional help?

If you're here, chances are you know something isn't quite right. Maybe you don't feel like your usual self and you recognise that you need help. Self-help is a way we can take our mental well-being into our own hands, but it can be tricky to know when this is the right approach, and when you'd benefit from professional support.

In the video below, we talk to CBT therapist and mindfulness teacher Natalie Englander to learn the differences between self-help and professional help, how to know which is right for you and where to go to get the support you need.

What is self-help?

Self-help is all about taking proactive steps to help ourselves when it comes to our well-being. It usually requires a little research and exploration as we look for the right type of help for us. The first step here is self-awareness. The more we get to know ourselves, the better able we’ll be to find the right approach for us. Try reflective activities like mood tracking, journaling and meditation to help you get to know yourself a bit better - what do you enjoy? What feels difficult?

Not sure where to start? Here are some resources to help you get started:

Journaling tools to get to know yourself

woman writing

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Dealing with emotional triggers

woman at sunset

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The benefits of self-help books


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Bryony Gordon interview

Bryony Gordon

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Creativity can be a powerful tool within self-help. Sometimes it’s difficult to express how we’re feeling or what we need. Creative mediums like creating art, writing, making music, crafting and dance can all help us take time for ourselves and tap into what’s happening beneath the surface.

In need of some inspiration? Take a look at these:

How creativity can help

woman painting

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Mindful crafts

hands painting

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Writing as therapy


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Creative writing for self-care

illustrated man writing

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The importance of self-care

While self-help may be something we turn to when we’re struggling, self-care is something we should, where possible, work into our daily routines. By regularly carving out space to care for ourselves, we cement our sense of self-worth, reduce stress and encourage positive mental health. Here are a few resources to get you started:



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Managing stress and anxiety

man in field

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What self-care is really about


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A practical guide to self-care

Grace Victory

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What if I need professional help?

Self-help and self-care can go a long way in supporting our mental health, but they can only go so far. There may be times in your life when your usual self-help and self-care approaches just don’t cut it. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, unable to cope and stuck, you could benefit from speaking to a professional. Counselling can offer a safe environment to explore what’s happening and what could help.

If you live with mental illness, regular therapy will likely form part of your self-care routine as you make space for what you need to be well (whatever ‘well’ looks like for you). Below are some resources to help you make an informed decision about seeking professional support.

How to recognise you need support


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How can counselling help?

woman in field

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What is counselling?


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Talking to a therapist vs. a friend

illustrated people talking

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And if you do decide to find help, know that we’re here for you. Read our guide to finding the right therapist for you and use our search tool to connect with a therapist.

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