I have worked as a Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner in the NHS since 2012.
A few years ago I carried a primary care mental health triage assessment with someone with chronic insomnia. After some questioning I identified symptoms of Generalised Anxiety Disorder.
I was pleased because these are treatable problems with Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), so I was surprised to hear that he had previously had unsuccessful CBT. When I asked him why CBT hadn't helped he said:
"The CBT was all "read this... write that...." and I couldn't do it. I've got really bad dyslexia"
And this got me thinking.
We don't need all these words.
Most people who have psychological therapies in England receive CBT. There are many behavioural interventions available for therapists to use, especially at the low-intensity level of treatment the majority of people have.
And you can illustrate these behaviours without the use of text.
This would allow lots of people to access the treatment without the barrier of needing to read and write in English. Having this universal resource would also save therapists time trying to find resources or adapt therapy.
It seemed like such an obvious idea that I was surprised when I could not find anything like that out there.
So I started doodling and sketching out some ideas.
I was put in touch with Mark Bennett, a fantastic graphic designer/illustrator who clearly had a shared idea of how this would look visually, and he was able to turn my scribbles into beautiful clear pictures.
I managed to secure some funding from Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust to pay for the illustrations and we were able to produce 2 workbooks for sleep and panic, as well as a worksheet for progressive muscle relaxation.
So far all of my work on this has been in what little free time I have. I’m proud of the workbooks, and I have plenty of ideas for other resources.
I’m hoping that with interest and positive feedback I’ll be able to secure more funding and expand therapy comics further.
Michael Safranek, May 2018