The Launchpad — the starting point for the journey of mental health.

My journey towards understanding and bettering my mental health started with the recognition that my thoughts and thought patterns in romantic relationships had been detrimental and painful to me and those around me. I had realised that I hadn’t been living in the moment, but had been re-enacting scenes of abuse and pain I’d accumulated over the years. That led me down a journey of self-discovery that spanned five years, involving writing, reading, watching videos, discussions, and finally, therapy.

It took me a while to come to therapy, due to the factors including the cost of therapy as well as the need to be self-reliant at that point. For a while, I found my answers from some brilliant content on youtube, including entire channels dedicated to mental health, and individual videos of speakers sharing their perspectives on the self and the world.

Given the easy accessibility of Youtube and the helpfulness of these videos to me, I have decided to share the channels and videos which have largely helped me in finding answers and forming perspectives that have improved my mental health.

This, however, comes with a disclaimer.

I am not a psychotherapist. I don’t claim to be capable of helping you mentally in a professional setting, nor do I claim these videos can completely diagnose or cure your mental issues. Some of these channels attempt to explain certain mental diseases, but they should not be taken as confirmatory diagnoses either for your mental ailments or somebody else’s mental ailments. That is something only a professional licensed psychotherapist or psychiatrist can do. These videos are just a starting point and are in no way a replacement for professional mental healthcare. If you need professional help and can afford it, go for it. The intention of this me sharing this list is to share with you what worked for me initially, as a fellow traveller on the mental health journey to another traveller on the same journey.

So, without further ado, here are the videos and channels that helped me in my mental health journey which, I hope, will be of help to you, too:

1. The School of Life

Visit their channel here.

The School of Life is an organisation that provides online psychotherapy in the form of individual counselling as well as group sessions for businesses or schools, and have a youtube channel that has all their ideas in individual videos, with a 2.5 – 8 minute runtime per video, mostly narrated in the soothing voice of Alain de Botton.

They focus on the philosophy that our adult emotions find their roots in our early childhood experiences. They explain that our early childhood shapes our emotional self, and our experiences with our parents and the world around us as babies and toddlers determines our emotional thinking and reacting patterns. This has far-reaching consequences over our romantic life, personal life and professional life as an adult.

It is a great starting point to explore our childhood, correlate our adult emotions to our childhood experiences, and figure out the patterns within our psyche that are influenced by the interactions in our early years.

2. ‘Feeling good’ by Dr David D. Burns, M.D.

Visit the website here

I have elaborated on this book in my very first First Impressions post, but I shall briefly introduce the book. This book contains the groundbreaking work done on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, commonly known as CBT, which focuses on simplifying the most complex and intense emotions and emotional reactions to their basic roots, which are cognitive distortions. And along with identifying our internal cognitive distortion using scientific tools, this book also helps the reader in correcting those distortions with tangible activities and processes meant to improve our emotional quotient and our overall life. This not only answers the why but also the what’s next. Of course, this barely scratches the surface of this deeply scientific and empathetic book, which manages to walk you through the entire process of discovery of, identification of, correction of and recovery from the cognitive distortions that disrupt our lives.

I would highly recommend listening to this book as an audiobook, as the experience feels very similar to a therapy session. And while you may feel attacked initially, I advise having some patience for both yourself as well as the author, because, in the end, it will be worth it.

3. ‘The art of being yourself’ by Caroline McHugh TedXMiltonKeynesWomen (and TedX, in general)

Watch the video here

Caroline McHugh is the CEO of IDology (visit their LinkedIn here), an organisation that, much like The School of Life, works along with people and corporates to help people be themselves and live authentically. I found this video five years ago, along with a host of other videos, while searching for ‘self-motivation talks’ on youtube.

In this video, Caroline McHugh talks about what it means to be ourselves, and how difficult it is to find ourselves. The most fantastic thing that this talk revealed to me was the idea of ‘Interiority’, which is a self-contained view of ourselves that is completely unrelated to the people around us and the position we occupy in others’ lives, and the ‘I-complex’, which is the multi-layered personality that makes us who we are.

Humility isn’t about thinking less about yourself, it’s about thinking of yourself less”. Listening to her anecdotes about the learning moments of her life made me understand that the focus of my thoughts needed to be lesser on what I did or didn’t do, and more on who I am. It took me multiple replays of the video, and returns over the years, to understand her message, and, in some small way, implement it.

I’d now like to take a moment to talk about TedX here.

Those who know TedX from its infancy know that the platform initially used to be a highly exclusive platform, accessible to those who were most innovative and successful in their field. That exclusivity, however, was quickly removed, and now everyone has their own Ted talk, to the point where it’s become a joke. The sheer quantity of available content is insane, and while the overall quality may never compare to that of the initial days, the quantity of talks ensures that there is at least one person, if not more, who has spoken about something that may be of value or interest to you. I have seen a lot of TedX videos revolving around self-help, self-confidence and overcoming negative thought patterns, and of the scores of content I’ve seen, this has got to be the most powerful video that has me coming back again and again.

4. Ted-Ed

Visit their channel here

A branch of Ted that produces animated educational content, Ted-Ed covers a variety of topics from mythology to animal behaviour, from philosophy to physics, and they also have some videos on psychology and the biology of certain manifestations of mental health. Their videos are a great starting point for not only psychology but also physics and other sciences.

And finally, congratulations on taking your initial steps into bettering your mental health!

The journey towards better mental health spans throughout our lives, and while the first step may not seem to do a lot, it is a moment of great significance. It’s not easy and has its trying moments, but the fact that you’re here and are willing to make the effort to improve your mental health is commendable. I hope you remember to pat yourself on the back and to remember that you are not alone.

These resources are a great place to find your footing initially and start your research. You may or may not find the videos helpful by themselves, but they will help you find your way towards tools or professionals who might be able to help you eventually. Every step is significant on your road to self-discovery and mental growth. So onwards, brave soldier, and all the best to you!

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