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Thinking inside the box with new home mental health kit

Adriene Berkeley

A “therapy in a box” service created to teach people how to take charge of their mental health is to be launched next month.

Adriene Berkeley, a psychologist and neuroscientist, said she had seen a lot of people who were able to conceal their problems.

But she added: “Therapy is not for everyone. It can be a huge commitment.

“Some people want a quicker fix. This is my attempt to build that bridge.”

Dr Berkeley said the idea for the PsyNeu boxes, a subscription service, was to make mental health services more accessible.

She added: “It’s really about having a personalised coping strategy, developing coping skills by using your senses and understanding that mind and body are not separate.

“Music works for me, for instance. Smells, in the sense of aromatherapy, don’t.”

Dr Berkeley said: “We have a lot of high-functioning distress here.

“There are people that are functioning as normal that may be severely depressed, anxious, emotionally disturbed or have cognitive difficulty.

“Part of that is not knowing what cognitive health really looks like.”

The first box, for children, will cost $99 for a three-month subscription and will include a card game.

Boxes for teenagers and adults are to follow.

Boxes, which can be ordered online, will have five to seven items, some handmade on-island, with a personalised “mood toolkit” to help users explore their senses and with effects ranging from calming to increased alertness.

Sensory items are aimed at teaching users to engage their senses to manage distress and build resilience and self confidence.

Dr Berkeley is the founder of PsyNeu, a Front Street clinic, where part of her role is to make people comfortable about discussing mental health.

She said: “I just want to make it more normal to have this conversation. It shouldn’t be a dirty word to talk about your mental health.

“I feel like people have become more open about it over this last year.

“Covid definitely made mental health a topic of discussion.”

Dr Berkeley added she was fascinated by the links between physical and mental health and that “you can’t understand behaviour without understanding the brain”.

She explained: “When I was 12 I went into the hospital with bacterial meningitis. I was really sick – borderline about to pass away.”

Dr Berkeley said her normally quiet manner “completely changed” – which highlighted how something that affected the brain could alter behaviour, just as a severe head injury can have major psychological effects.

She explained her clients ranged from children to seniors and people’s experiences of mental health and how they coped with problems changed change over a lifetime.

Dr Berkeley added: “I’m big on building an understanding of what mental health and brain health are. That’s a core philosophy of PsyNeu.

“With this, it’s really about trying to put therapy in a box.”

The boxes, with a description of the programme, will be available to buy at the PsyNeu website.

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Published August 16, 2021 at 7:50 am (Updated August 16, 2021 at 7:50 am)

Thinking inside the box with new home mental health kit

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