This week, we welcomed Dr Heather Bolton to the Unmind team. I asked her a few questions to help us get to know her a little better…
Heather, please tell us about your professional background.
“I’m a clinical psychologist with extra postgraduate training in CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy). I’ve worked in the NHS for the last decade and my clinical practice has focused on understanding and treating depression and anxiety disorders. In recent years, a big part of my role was to help make therapy accessible to people who wouldn’t usually seek it out. I’m passionate about reducing stigma around mental health and making sure everyone has the opportunity to take control of their own wellbeing, whatever their life circumstances.”
How will you use your extensive clinical experience to add further value to our Unmind users?
“Unmind already has an excellent suite of programmes and my job will be to help expand upon this provision. As a clinical psychologist, all my work is rooted in evidence-based practice and I’ll be working to make sure that what we’re delivering is not just engaging but scientifically rigorous and is in line with the latest clinical research. I’ll also be helping evaluate the programmes so we can continually improve and evolve them to meet the needs of our users.”
Unmind believes in a positive, proactive approach to mental health. With this in mind, if you had to choose three key foundations of psychological wellbeing what would they be?
“Self-compassion: I’m often shocked at how horrible and self-critical people can be when talking to themselves. Try to talk to yourself as you would a good friend, rather than beat yourself up.
Practice gratitude: Try to notice things that you’re thankful for each day, however small.
Balance: We all need a mix of achievement, social connection and enjoyment in our daily lives: it’s like a three-legged stool and if one falls off, we tend to lose balance. Try to make sure you have a measure of all three each day to keep your mood level.”
I’m a book-freak, so I have to ask what book you’d recommend to everyone and why?
“The Compassionate Mind by Paul Gilbert. It explains the evolution of our brains and the way that we’re wired to respond to perceived threats, which can lead to depression and anxiety. It teaches self-compassion as a means of calming this threat system and creating a greater sense of safety and wellbeing. I’ve recommended it to many people over the years.”
Besides reading, which I’m sure you do a lot of, what sort of things do you like to do outside of work?
“Having grown up in Scotland, I love getting into the countryside for walking or cycling. It’s a great way to reset, particularly living within the hustle and bustle of London!”
Finally, what are you most excited about when you think about your future at Unmind?
“I feel really privileged to be joining such a forward-thinking and passionate team. Unmind’s philosophy of proactive, preventative action fits with my own and I’m really excited to have the opportunity to help drive this forward. Mental health is finally on the public agenda after being a taboo subject for so long, and people are talking about it much more openly than ever before. We’ve got a great opportunity here, as employers are realising the value of investing in the mental wellbeing of their workforce. The great thing about having a digital platform is that people can access it from anywhere they like, and using the tools can become a normal part of daily life. It’ll also be the first time I’ve worked in an office with a pet dog, so I’m pretty excited about that!”
Dr Heather Bolton, Clinical Psychologist and Head of Psychology at Unmind