When researching the self-help industry and its authenticity in treating those with mental health problems world-wide, there are countless publications online discrediting the industry as ‘wasting your money and time’ [1]. However, if the self-help industry is in fact a helpless tool in trying to cure personal, financial and health related problems, why is it a billion dollar a year industry?

My interest in this topic came to fruition last week, when my GP prescribed self-help as treatment for my own mental health related problems. I wasn’t sure as to whether I should be pleased or disheartened when I was handed a barely half-filled A4 page in response to saying I was struggling to cope. Was I actually much healthier than I had previously assumed? Or was this what I had been warned about when I said I was going to the GP to discuss anxiety, a casual dismissal?

Upon calling my mum after the appointment, upset and frustrated, she reminded me that whilst it was not the help I was after, it was help none the less, given by a professional who knew that self-help was a proven alternative of coping with anxiety other than medical intervention, right?

 

When googling ‘does self-help actually help with anxiety’, the NHS page is the first to pop up, stating self-help as ‘a useful way to try out a therapy like therapy to see if it’s for you’ [2] and listing different kinds of self-help like a workbook, apps etc. However, this is subsequently followed by an article titled ‘Why self-help does not actually help’ [3]. Being slightly confused, and reading conflicting articles praising or damning the self-help industry as life-saving, or an industry exploiting those who are vulnerable. I concluded that perhaps whether the ‘help’ part of self-help is actually accurate is down to interpretation, or severity of problem.

 

However, that didn’t settle my curiosity of whether it would work for me. I decided to try different outlets each week, using things such as mindfulness or cognitive behavioural practises listed on different media sources and see whether it holds any power in affecting my anxiety. Holding some scepticism but ultimately wanting to be proven wrong, I will try to go into this experiment with an open mind (or as much of one as anyone could have). Limiting it to one website and one app a week, I want to try and get as accurate a representation I can of each outlet, providing reviews weekly.

While I cannot say what will make you feel better, I can try to create a shortcut in knowing what websites provide helpful advice, for those like me who need practical and doable ways in coping with anxiety in day-to-day life.

[1] https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/the-power-prime/201104/personal-growth-is-the-self-help-industry-fraud

[2] https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/self-help-therapies/

[3] https://medium.com/the-mission/why-self-help-does-not-actually-help-e9676a5c2ed5