Andrew Boden: APSA Executive Director

Some Mental Health Tools

July 5, 2023

I recently spoke with Anton (not his real name), an APSA member, and he noted how tense and stressed the Burnaby campus seems. “It’s like the mood of the whole University has been low,” he said, “People seem upset or annoyed a lot of the time. A lot more negative. Social structures seem fractured.”

After I reflected on Anton’s comments and similar remarks I’ve heard from many APSA members over the last few months, I thought it might be a good time to let you know about some of the mental health tools I use in my work and personal life. 

While I’m not a mental health professional, I do sometimes suggest to members mental health tools that have helped me. This is in addition to ones I often or always suggest that come as part of your benefits: SFU’s Employee Family Assistance Program, access to a psychologist through your Pacific Blue Cross benefits, and workplace coaching, which can be paid for with your Professional Development funds. 

Below are some of my suggested tools. Again, these are suggestions only: there are invariably a lot more tools out there, and I’d be happy to hear from you about what works for you.

Human Gives Institute (HGI)

HGI is my go-to psychotherapeutic paradigm for many mental health issues. HGI operates out of the UK, and its register of trained therapists is accredited by the UK’s Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care (PSA). They have numerous practical and helpful online resources, all governed by a central organizing idea: if we’re not getting our innate physical and psychological needs met, our mental and physical health suffers. 

Some of the innate psychological needs highlighted by HGI include a sense of autonomy and control, a sense of status within social groupings and a sense of competence and achievement. They also include, among others, the need for security, attention (to give and receive it) and emotional intimacy. You can take their online Emotional Needs Audit to check on yourself or someone you support.

As I did many years ago, you can arrange to meet online with a Human Givens therapist and even take counseling courses (which I’ve also done).

Hypnosis Downloads from Uncommon Knowledge

When you think of hypnosis or hypnotherapy, you may think of a stage performer with a pocket watch lulling you into doing offbeat things to amuse a TV audience. What I’m suggesting here is not that at all. 

From the Uncommon Knowledge website: 

“Emotional problems work much more on the “feeling level” than the “thinking level,” which is why just trying to think differently is so hard when trying to lift, for example, panic attacks or feelings of low self-worth or phobias. We use hypnosis to help you feel different quickly, which then makes you think differently about a situation.”

Each hypnotherapy audio download created by Uncommon Knowledge is developed by experienced and trained therapists, with an emphasis on doing so within an ethical framework (they will only use hypnotherapy where there is research supporting its use, for example). 

Uncommon Knowledge has an extensive online catalogue of hypnotherapy downloads for a wide range of issues. I have successfully used their audios (each 20-30 minutes long) for anxiety, sleep issues, and other life problems. Right now, I’m using their “Living with Uncertainty” download, which is helping me navigate our big ol’ world a little more easily. 

Cost? About $20 for each download, though they often have sales.

The Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense at Work

I recommend this book by linguist Suzette Haden Elgen all the time. Too many of us have likely faced situations in our working lives where what’s being said to us either seems like verbal abuse or is certainly edging into this uncomfortable territory. This is an excellent book for providing practical techniques to combat verbal attacks at work, calmly and professionally. 

From the book’s online blurb:

“Powerful yet unthreatening, [Suzette Haden Elgen’s] proven strategies will help you recognize and defend yourself from verbal abuse—everything from casual obscenities and racist or sexist language to sarcasm, cutting jokes, and subtle put-downs.”

I highly recommend it.