We talk to Hilary Sims, Counsellor and Founder of Life Balance Counselling.


Can you tell us a little bit about what you do and your journey to this point?

After my husband finished his 24 year army career, I went back to college part-time for 3 years and trained as a counsellor. I have been working in my own private practice from home since April 2014.  I support anyone from the age of 12 with their mental health.  I teach them to deal with things differently and look for alternative ways of managing their stress/anxiety.


How has your mental health been affected by your journey?

The journey to becoming a counsellor is an interesting one as you have to become very self-aware.  To be able to support clients, you need to be aware of how you react and interact in situations.


How did you deal with this?

I embraced the journey of self-discovery.  When you start to learn why you do the things you do, it makes it easier to see the mistakes you have made and to learn how you could have dealt with the things differently.  It also teaches you that you are important and if you do not take care of yourself, who does?  It’s ok to say ‘no’ if you do not want to do something.


How are you addressing mental health in your own work now, through Life Balance Counselling?

As a counsellor in private practice supporting people with their mental health, it is important that I am aware of my own mental health and my own limitations.  I cannot support clients if I am not in a good place mentally.   I use my running to keep my physical health in a good place, which in turn supports my mental health.


How easy do you think it is to access relevant mental health support?

Unfortunately, it can be very difficult to find the right mental health support as a lot of people do not know where to look.  There is always a long waiting list for the NHS counselling service.  There are lots of counsellors offering the service via private practice, but I know a lot of people cannot always afford to pay for the private service.


Based on your personal/professional experience, what changes do you think need to be made to the mental health system to ensure support is more relevant and accessible?

There should be more free support available to people, even if it was for only 2 or 3 sessions.  This would give people a bit of help at a time when they most need it.


What advice would you give to someone struggling with their mental health?     

I know how difficult it can be trying to find the right help when you are struggling with your mental health.  I would recommend taking a look at  HUB OF HOPEThe team at Chasing the Stigma has already done the hard work for you and the website will point you in the direction of relevant support in your local area.  You can search for specific subjects, which means you are not trawling the internet for hours without finding what you are looking for.


If you have used the Hub of Hope to find support or signpost others to support, can you tell us a bit about that?

HUB OF HOPE is a great place to find support for yourself at difficult times.  It gives you local information about local services.  This is a website I have referred both clients and friends to when they have been looking for specific support.


You can contact Hilary Sims via her website, Life Balance Counselling.

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