If you suffer from depression, you must read this.

Depression help: Here is a blog post we’ve done for the main Thrive Programme website which is worth a few minutes of your time if you’d like

a) to know the truth about depression,

b) find a way to look at depression in a different more helpful (or hopeful) way, and

c) hear it from someone who beat his depression (or changed his thinking) via The Thrive Programme.

Most people suffering from depression and related conditions believe exactly as I did for many years; that there’s something fundamentally wrong with them. Some sort of misplaced connection that’s different to everyone else, like a badly-wired plug or a car with an intermittent fault that nobody else can experience or see but you.

BUT, I can tell you now with a great degree of certainty – informed by my own experience and that of many others who suffered from lifelong depression – that this isn’t the case.

Yes, your GP and NHS-based mental health practitioner will have explained how your brain chemistry is the mental equivalent of a school science experiment gone wrong because that’s the way that the general medical profession have viewed many mental health problems for decades. Their solution to this is to medicate. You break a leg and it’s obvious that your bone has physically snapped and needs to be put in plaster – thus, when you suffer from a mental health problem your brain must be chemically broken or damaged in the same way and needs fixing.

This isn’t true a lot of the time. As complex creatures, humans have become adept at creating these problems for ourselves through the way we process events and things that happen to us, even though we don’t do this consciously or with any awareness of what we’re doing. This is a well-established concept with considerable research behind it stretching back decades. Perhaps the best known and most compelling study on this subject was published in 1984 by Jerry M Burger, the highly respected professor of Psychology at Santa Clara University.

Jeremy Burger studied students over a six-month period and identified thinking styles and habits that led to mental health problems – for example, students who thought their lives were generally controlled by chance were most likely to have suicidal thoughts. It was also found that subjects with a high desire for control in their lives – manifesting itself in something like anxiety or OCD-type symptoms – who held external perceptions of control (i.e. they thought that their life is dictated by outside influences such as relationships or work) were most likely to seek nonprofessional help for depression.

Going further back, Beck (1972) proposed holding certain beliefs, such as a negative views of oneself, pessimism about the future, and interpretation of ongoing experiences in a negative manner, are responsible for many subsequent depressive episodes. Further studies by Abramson, Seligman, and Teasdale (1978), and Miller and Norman (1979) explored the relation between thought processes and depression.

In short, these and many more academic studies consistently link – what can loosely be described as – ‘unhelpful thought processes’ to many common mental health problems. There is little evidence of chemical imbalances or ‘faulty wiring’ being the actual cause.

So, the big question is: how does this all help you right now if you’re suffering from depression, anxiety or a similar condition? The good news is that your brain almost certainly isn’t broken, faulty or different to everyone else’s. The likelihood is that you’ve processed certain life events or experiences in a way that leads to feelings of helplessness, lack of control and negativity (see Beck’s 1972 list above) and subsequent depression, anxiety or similar mental health condition has then taken its grip. This is exactly what happened to me.

And because I created this problem, I’m the one who can fix it. And I’ve done just that.

Several months ago I found out about something called The Thrive Programme following a chance conversation with a friend. I made the call and signed up to see a Thrive Consultant immediately. When I began I was on two different types of medication prescribed by my well-meaning GP – a mood stabiliser and strong anti-depressant – and I’d also put on weight, had low self-esteem, no job, no home and generally not a lot going for me (or so I thought). My life was dominated by negative thought processes and I felt mentally ill – like the wiring in my brain was fundamentally broken or different to everyone else’s.

After the very first Thrive Programme training session (I had six in total) I felt much more in control. After the second session, I already noticed and improvement in my depression! Twelve weeks after starting the programme (six weeks after finishing it) I stopped taking my medication, and I haven’t messed it or needed it since.It’s now five months later and life couldn’t be better. The programme taught me how process past and current events effectively, and to think in such a way that I don’t allow negativity to creep in and begin that destructive cycle of unhelpful thought processes that van lead to depression – as identified by Berger et al.

The power of developing the kind of positive thinking and outlook taught by The Thrive Programme is highlighted in the graph below, which measures three key attributes before and after going through the course. The results speak for themselves.

I now feel equipped to deal with things that would’ve previously caused my mental health to suffer – I’m resilient, happy, productive and every aspect of my life has improved. The best thing is that, by using the techniques and strategies I learnt through Thrive, I’ve helped myself with no medication or therapists to prop me up. For the first time in recent memory, I feel ‘normal’, and I love it.

James R

The Mistake of Perfectionism

Perfectionism, in psychology, is a personality trait characterized by a person’s striving for flawlessness and setting high performance standards, accompanied by critical self-evaluations and concerns regarding others’ evaluations. ……… When perfectionists do not reach their goals, they often fall into depression. Perfectionists strain compulsively and unceasingly toward unobtainable goals, and measure their self-worth by productivity and accomplishment. Pressuring oneself to achieve unrealistic goals inevitably sets the person up for disappointment. Perfectionists tend to be harsh critics of themselves when they fail to meet their standards. Wikipedia

A perfectionist does not allow for flaws or mistakes. That is why true perfectionists tend not to achieve the things they want to. Perfectionists look at mistake negatively as opposed being part of the learning process. In fact, mistakes will, if looked at from a positive point a view, enhance and strengthen our outcomes, our goals

Unless we learn to fail, we fail to learn

“No one likes making mistakes because no one likes to fail. Failure can be embarrassing, dent your pride and leave you with ‘egg on your face’. Sometimes size doesn’t matter either, because even the smallest mistake can feel gargantuan.”

Sometimes we get it right and a lot of times we don’t get things right. However, no one plans to fail or make a mistake. These things just happen, usually as a result trying, taking a risk or doing something new. Mistakes happen all the time.

Mistakes are inevitable, and if you aren’t making mistakes every week, then you aren’t learning much or trying anything new. The way we talk about failure and not getting things right has to change so that we can feel safe. Failure is a learning experience and we all have to flop in order to be a hit.

Failures force us to accept our fallibility and they teach us about ourselves, but making mistakes helps us inspire each other. Failing doesn’t make us incompetent and it isn’t bad. We have the idea that failure is the opposite of success when it is part of it.

Life is one massive work in progress full of mistake making either “we learn by our mistakes” which is sometimes we do or we don’t. Life is not a TV show or film, life has no script. Why don’t we learn? Often because we do not feel comfortable, we feel judged. What will people think of me if I make a mistake.

Feeling Safe

Amy Edmondson is the Novartis Professor of Leadership and Management at Harvard University and she says that to learn and be productive, we need to feel ‘psychologically safe’. If we work in a place where mistakes are frowned upon and there is no room for making them then we don’t learn, we fail.

In her book Teaming: How Organisations Learn, Innovate, and Compete in the Knowledge Economy she says,

In psychologically safe environments, people believe that if they make a mistake, others will not penalise them or think less of them for it. They also believe that others will not resent or humiliate them when they ask for help or information. This belief comes about when people both trust and respect each other, and it produces a sense of confidence that the group won’t embarrass, reject, or punish someone for speaking up.

 We do the same thing in our own thinking about ourselves. When we think of mistakes, flaws in a positive, helpful way we develop that “safe environment” to learn from our mistakes.



Image: Amy Edmondson, Teaming How Organizations Learn, Innovate and Complete (2012)

Celebrating Mistakes

Celebrating mistakes and showcasing our failures isn’t something we are good at but every year in Finland they celebrate a ‘Day for Failure’, an initiative created at the Aalto University in Finland. Their philosophy is a breath of fresh air because it recognises personal and professional failures but without the guilt and shame.

“Failure is not the enemy, but the fear of failure is. Day for Failure is a new ‘holiday’ for anyone to rethink, share and learn from failure.”




Amy Edmondson: Teaming How Organizations Learn, Innovate and Complete (2012)

Rob Kelly: The Thrive Programme

Jo Boaler: https://www.youcubed.org

John Dabell: https://www.teachertoolkit.co.uk

How Common Is Childhood Mental Illness?

Mental illness affects children much more often than you might think.

How common is childhood mental illness? If you asked 20 mental health clinicians, you could easily get 20 different answers. This lack of consensus does not mean clinicians aren’t being well trained, or that they have poor memories. Rather, this fundamental question remains largely overlooked by psychiatric research.

But it’s a critically important question. If we want to assess how well we are meeting children’s mental health needs, we must know how many need help. The answer also has profound implications for the best approaches to prevention and treatment, and even for public acceptance of mental illness. Yet medical records are little help, offering a notoriously inadequate picture of the rates of common mental illnesses like depression and anxiety. Meanwhile, government agencies such as the National Institutes of Health do not regularly track rates of psychiatric diseases, because routine tracking on such a large scale would involve extensive diagnostic interviewing and would be quite costly.

Psychology Today

Contact us now to see how you could help your children with their mental well-being!

Pupils as young as four having panic attacks, say teachers

Children as young as four are suffering from mental health problems such as panic attacks, anxiety and depression, teachers say.

Almost all of the 2,000 who responded to an NASUWT survey said they had come into contact with mentally ill pupils.

Members of the teaching union suggest schools are struggling to access enough support to deal with the issue.

The Department for Education said it was investing £1.4bn to ensure all children get the help they need.

The union is highlighting the problem at its annual conference in Manchester this weekend and it will also discuss school funding and the online world.

Read full BBC article.