Chapter 7 Self Care

Self-care is so important because we ourselves can take preventive action at any time. If we have dealt well and intensively with ourselves, our thoughts, feelings, fantasies, desires and certain reactions, we can recognize the cause and consequences sooner and react to them appropriately and early.

Being aware of your symptoms and mental health issues is active self-help. When people become experts in their own illness, they are less at the mercy of their illness and know what is important in their own individual case.

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Active self-help

When people come to terms with their diagnosis and illness, this is an essential prerequisite for feeling competent and being able to help themselves. This education of patients about the disease is called psychoeducation and is now an important part of the treatment of mental illness.

There are several ways to achieve this:

  • Bibliotherapy
  • Psychoeducation on the net
  • E- mental health
  • Self-help groups
  • Art therapy

As soon as a moderate to severe mental disorder is involved, professional help is always needed in addition to these methods. These offers are intended as support and serve as first steps or as an accompanying tool.

The use of books, dvds, audio books, computer programs that take the reader / listener by the hand is called bibiotherapy. In the form of a self-help guide, active coping procedures within and outside of professional support services can train and help those who are ill. Bibliotherapy is used to bridge the gap until the start of therapy, as a preparation for therapy and in the first phase of therapy.

Bibliotherapy has the goals:

  • to provide knowledge and information about the disease, its symptoms, possible causes, and models of disease
  • provide emotional relief and support
  • contribute to the reduction of feelings of guilt and shame
  • to convey realistic hopes
  • show ways of dealing constructively with the disease
  • provide information about the treatment options currently available and their effects or undesirable effects
  • decision support for the choice of treatment method

Of course, today the internet also serves as an important source of information. one advantage is that you can often contact experts directly and ask questions. This way of research is also helpful for the current addresses of professionals, etc. A disadvantage is that no one can check the correctness of the content, and often unknown sponsors, such as the pharmaceutical industry, are behind the content and influence it.

For many diseases, e-health services are now also available on the Internet as an intervention option. These are self-help programs in which the individual therapeutic sessions take place in front of a computer at home or with a smartphone and tablet while on the move. This is mostly based on a cognitive-behavioral therapy approach. The focus is on information about the (mental) illness. Users are asked to perform various exercises that teach them how to change their thoughts and behavior in order to reduce and manage their symptoms. In contrast to books or other manuals, there is interaction. This takes place through a virtual interlocutor and “therapist” who can adapt variably and individually to the person concerned, answer questions and take into account the abilities and needs of the person concerned.

Self-help groups serve the exchange of information and experience, practical life help as well as emotional support and motivation. Those affected meet regularly, and occasionally relatives can also participate. They are now recognized and financially supported by health insurance companies as a complement to and support for treatment. Such groups can also be found on the Internet. Once again, look out for indications of seriousness.

Art therapy belongs to the creative therapies. It is based on the knowledge that creating pictures and other artistic activities can have a healing effect. The aim is not to create works of art, but to gain access to one’s inner world. It includes creative methods, drama and music in addition to artistic design.

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