Guest blog: Transmitting emotional wellbeing on a national scale
Dr. Aaron Balick, Radio 1's resident psychotherapist on 'The Surgery with Aled', talks about his work helping transmit emotional wellbeing to the nation.
In my daily life I help one person at a time. They come and sit in a chair across from me, and we take the time to work out what’s going wrong and how we can best sort it out. Then we do it again next week. It takes time, care, and attention: and the “fix” doesn’t usually happen overnight.
The Surgery with Aled broadcasts every Sunday on BBC Radio 1 from 9pm-10pm. You can also catch up with the show on BBC iPlayer
About once a month on a Sunday night I do something very different. I am Radio 1’s resident psychotherapist on The Surgery with Aled. We take calls, texts, and tweets from young people across the country about their thoughts, feelings, and troubles. We cover the whole range of mental and emotional well-being from self-harm and suicide, to dealing with boyfriends/girlfriends and getting on with parents: and everything in between.
Can you imagine what it’s like to move from one hour a week with one person at a time, to one hour a month with the whole nation? You just can’t do psychotherapy that way. . . but there is an awful lot you CAN do.
I’ve learned that though becoming a psychotherapist takes many years of training in complex psychological theories; most of these ideas CAN be made accessible to LOTS of people for their benefit, and I think they should be. Just a few small examples:
- People usually worry about things more than they need to, and it’s easy to learn how not to worry so much.
- People almost always think they struggle alone with problems (and think there’s something wrong with them) – it helps to know others struggle with the same problems (and you’re not alone).
- Folks are scared to talk about their problems but always feel better when they do.
- People can be quite hard on themselves (bullying themselves in their own heads) and can learn to be nicer to themselves and feel a lot better.
- And much much more . . .
My role on The Surgery is to help the callers and those that are listening by educating them about the sorts of things I just mentioned in relation to the problems they bring. But I think that the REAL healing power of the show is not the advice alone, but the underlying message that we are on your side.
When young people tune into The Surgery they know that the surgery team is there for them. The familiar voices and the regularity of the programme is an important message that says:
- We understand you: you are not alone.
- We are here for you (not your parents, your teachers, your mates, etc.).
- You don’t need to be ashamed of who you really are.
- We support you, and if you look hard enough, you can find someone nearby who can too (and we’ll give you resources for that).
- Whether you are struggling just to get by, or simply hoping you can achieve your dreams, we can help: we’re on your side.
I don’t think anyone can underestimate the power of a positive youth-centric voice over a major media provider like BBC Radio 1. Through the BBC’s public service remit we fight stigma, provide information and resources, and most importantly, show that people care; I certainly do. And speaking for myself, it’s hard to describe how fortunate and proud I am to be a member of team surgery!
You can follow Aaron on Twitter @DrAaronB