The Mind Map: former LJMU student launches innovative mental health services platform
After struggling with his own mental health issues, LJMU graduate Philip Bridges was determined to help others access free support that works
Philip Bridges graduated in 2002 from LJMU with a First Class (BA Hons) degree in English Literature & Cultural History. A lot has changed since 2002, particularly the cultural landscape when it comes to issues surrounding mental health. In present day, it thankfully feels like the conversation surrounding wellbeing and mental health is a much more open one – but this still doesn't necessarily mean that the right support is always accessible to those who really need it.
In response to this issue, Philip launched his own charity and wellbeing service, The Mind Map – an organisation dedicated to destigmatising mental health issues and offering counselling, training and advice to anyone in need of it. Recently, The Mind Map launched the UK’s first ever ‘one stop shop’ for mental health provision, meaning individuals and organisations can now book online counselling, Mental Health First Aid training, search for free mental health services, and read expert advice and articles on The Mind Map’s innovative new mental health platform.
It’s the result of a ground-breaking research project carried out between The Mind Map and leading organisations with mental health at the top of their agenda, with contributions from Liverpool John Moores University, Imperial College London and the NHS.
Phil is now a lecturer in Mental Health Innovation and Mental Health First Aid instructor. He says of the new one stop shop project: “Our research uncovered that people don’t feel they have access to the support they need, in a format that is accessible and relevant to their everyday lives. This was certainly the case for me personally when trying to find help for my anxiety and OCD.
“With recurring lockdowns restricting people’s ability to receive in person support, we have recruited 20 associate counsellors experienced in delivering therapy online. Clients can choose a qualified counsellor by location, gender and specialism. We have sessions people can purchase, plus are providing free counselling to healthcare workers and unemployed people in Liverpool’s L8 area.”
Smita Melling, HCPC, BACP, MSc, MBA, MBPsS, a counselling psychologist at The Mind Map, has been practicing for seventeen years and sees the pandemic in particular as a serious threat to people’s mental health. She says:
“Unfortunately, anxiety has been through the roof since March of 2020. It’s like peeling an onion, you start with pandemic-induced anxiety, exacerbated by working from home and loneliness and often find deeper lying issues such as thinking errors.”
On The Mind Map’s new intervention, Smita says: “It can take an awful lot for a client to seek help and if they have to wait, it adds insult to injury. The Mind Map bridges the gap between counsellor and client, allowing them to find help immediately. I decided to join The Mind Map as being paired with clients means I get to concentrate on delivery, as opposed to the business side – an Achilles heel for many counsellors.”
Using cutting edge graphic design from Kruger Buro and innovative website development by Citrus Suite, The Mind Map’s new website will appeal to millennials, Gen Z and beyond. In addition to offering tangible mental health support, the platform helps to normalise mental health through engaging advice and articles from academic experts, writers and public figures.
Browsing the immersive journal section leads you to international musicians and Premier League footballers talking about everything from anxiety to grief and how they have dealt with their respective life challenges and mental health issues. This creates dialogue, reduces stigma, and helps put the conversation about mental health front-and-centre as an important issue to the young adults of the UK.
When it comes to his personal experiences at LJMU, Phil explains how coming to the university helped him to overcome his own anxiety and build on the initial idea of The Mind Map:
"I really enjoyed my time at LJMU. I can't quite believe I'm old enough to have gone to uni when YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram didn't exist! The world's changed alot since 2002. I remember having some amazing tutors including Jo Croft, who sadly passed away this month.
"I mostly remember how friendly it was at LJMU. Just two years prior, I'd been housebound for six months with serious depression and anxiety – so being in such a welcoming environment absolutely helped me move my life forward. The Mind Map probably wouldn't exist without the support I received at LJMU..."
You can visit The Mind Map today for support and advice, as well as to hear more about their latest projects.