Our service helps people in several different ways, including via the phone and in person. But we also offer support online, through a programme called SilverCloud.
I’ve referred lots of people for SilverCloud since working for the NHS. It sounds great in theory – really flexible and easy to use, so it can fit nicely around life and work commitments. Another attraction is that you can use it for different problems, like anxiety or low mood.
Having said this, I felt I needed to get a better idea of what it’s like to actually be a SilverCloud user, so when I refer people to it, I can explain exactly what they’ll be getting.
I am not the most computer-savvy person, so I felt a bit nervous about whether I’d be able to find my way around SilverCloud, but I didn’t need to worry. I got an introductory email, with a link on it that took me straight to the site. Once I’d set a password up, I was good to go. It took me a little bit of time to navigate the site, but nothing I couldn’t easily work out with practice.
The way that SilverCloud works is that your therapist unlocks a module for you, based on what you most need help with. I chose general anxiety as I can feel anxious quite a bit. I do know a reasonable amount about working with anxiety, and I wondered if there would be anything new for me to learn. So I was pleasantly surprised by how helpful I found the managing anxiety module, and the new techniques I learned.
The first thing I really liked was having one therapist who saw me through using SilverCloud from start to finish. As I know this therapist from work, I can say she is a genuine person, not a robot! She checked in on how I was doing every couple of weeks, helped me out if I got stuck, and also had extra suggestions to make that were very helpful. I find it reassuring to know that, if I was really struggling, my therapist would have been able to signpost me to other sources of support as well. It was good to know she was there, and she cared.
I get bored pretty quickly, so one of the things I enjoyed was the way the information is presented in different ways. There are stories from other SilverCloud users, and their journey is explained from start to finish, including how they use the different strategies.
There are little video clips as well. I loved the mindfulness exercises, as it gave me permission to switch off from my usual round of worries and stress, and do nothing! Mindfulness is definitely something I will practice more, and it was great that these videos supported me in doing this.
I am very enthusiastic about how SilverCloud explained really clearly things like the link between thoughts, feelings and actions. It presented me with a nifty little model (I do love a model), and then put my own information into it! It was powerful stuff, seeing my own thoughts, feelings and behaviours right there on screen in front of me. I can still remember it now, and that’s saying something.
I also appreciated how there were several different ways of tackling anxieties. ‘Worry time’, for example, worked fab for me, as I found that I actually didn’t want to worry when given permission to do so. I liked the way realistic and unrealistic worries were explained, and the problem-solving steps for realistic worries. I was able to make good real-life use of this technique, and pass it on to my children too.
For me, a huge benefit of SilverCloud is that, for a certain amount of time after finishing the module, I can go back and look at it again. This is a massive bonus, as far as I’m concerned, because I find it really useful re-visiting sections that were a help the first time round. I can also go over anything I didn’t quite understand as well. It’s like having my own personalised therapy, right there, accessible 24-7.
Now I have finished my own SilverCloud journey, I will definitely be encouraging others to use it. For some people, it might be exactly what they need to start making a change right now. For others it could be the first in a series of steps that will help them get the support that they need. So go ahead and try it – there is nothing to lose, and so much valuable information to gain.