It is estimated that 1 in 6 people nationwide suffer from poor mental health, and freemasons are not excluded.
With around 200,000 Freemasons in England and Wales, together with their families, it is likely that tens of thousands of people within the Masonic community are going through the day feeling flat, low, anxious or simply unable to cope. Sadly, many people do not seek the help they need.
Emma Weighill-Baskerville, Clinical Lead for Mental Health, a UKCP and BACP Psychotherapist with over 15 years experience, answers some questions about the counselling service:
What is the counselling service?
“The counselling service is a free and confidential support service for Freemasons and their family members who are experiencing low mood, symptoms of depression, or anxiety, stress and other conditions affecting their mental well-being. Our team of psychological experts consist of counsellors and therapists registered and accredited by the UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP) and/or British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP). In addition, Psychological Wellbeing Therapists provide treatment for mild to moderate symptoms of depression and anxiety with a Cognitive Behavioural therapy in line with NICE guidance.”
What kind of issues are you currently supporting?
“We recommend that you contact us if you are feeling low in mood and feel stuck or don’t know what do to feel better.
“If you feel ready to talk about something that happened earlier in your life, or if you are struggling to cope with a challenging period in your life right now such as the breakdown of a relationship, grown-up children leaving home or managing the responsibilities of becoming a carer – give us a call.
“Many members of the Masonic community have got in touch with us as they struggle to adjust to a change in routine after retirement. There is a lot of advice out there on how to cope financially and emotionally post retirement, we can help you find ways to readjust to your new role in the home.
“We also work in partnership with a debt management service – we can help you deal with anxiety related to debt and then transfer you to them for practical guidance.”
What can a caller expect of the process?
“To access support, all you have to do is ring the MCF freephone enquiry line (0800 035 60 90) and ask to access the counselling service. The person on the other end of the phone won’t ask you what you want to discuss – they will simply confirm your Masonic connection and then put you in touch with us.
We provide immediate emotional support, this means one of our counsellors will be available to you 24/7 to talk though any issues you feel are impacting on your daily life. Sometimes, talking through your concerns and worries can help and the counsellor is skilled in providing you with resources, techniques to problem solve and the most appropriate next steps to help you move forward.
Next steps may involve an assessment of your mental health needs, we use a clinically validated approach to ensure you receive the right treatment at the right time. All of our treatment offers are in line with NICE guidance and could include six sessions of treatment for mild to moderate depression and anxiety with one of our Psychological Wellbeing Therapists or where appropriate, six sessions of counselling.
The counsellor will explain the recommended treatment for you and provide you with all of the information you need to make a collaborative and informed choice about the next steps.
Are there any instances where your support isn’t appropriate?
“Immediately after bereavement, no amount of therapy can lessen pain or sadness. We will of course listen and talk to you over the phone – more than once if necessary – but in the short-term we would direct you to other organisations such as Cruse, a bereavement charity that can help you with all of the things that need to be done after someone dies. Further down the line, if you were still struggling with your grief, we would then help you to deal with those feelings through bereavement counselling.
“Our service is also unsuitable for those with severe mental health conditions, simply because there is other specialist support provided through the NHS. We can, however, support the family members of those diagnosed with these conditions.”
What would you say to someone who is unsure about calling?
“It’s normal to feel anxious about calling someone for help and it can a lot of courage. We see every call as important and no matter what you are calling to discuss, there will be absolutely no judgement from us.
“I feel that Masons in particular have a fantastic support system from their Lodge – something many people in wider society lack – but sometimes they need to take a step beyond that to get the help they need. That’s where the counselling service comes in.
“Our aim is to find solutions for the 1 in 6 members of the Masonic community that are struggling through the day. We meet people who have struggled for many years with a problem and after a few sessions they realise they have the tools to change their life.
“We operate according to NICE guidelines, principles of dignity, confidentiality, empathy and compassion as well as a belief that people are resilient and, no matter how low you may feel, we can help.”
Can we help you?
The counselling service is available to eligible Freemasons and their family members. Children and grandchildren must be aged 17-25 and in full-time education.
If you want to talk to someone, call us on 0800 035 60 90 or email email@example.com