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What is MS-UK Counselling?

Posted on: October 08 2020

At MS-UK, we believe in listening to people affected by multiple sclerosis (MS). Over the years, we have heard from more and more people who have found that MS impacts their mental health. That's why we launched MS-UK Counselling a few years ago, which is a telephone service available to anyone in the UK who has recieved a diagnosis of MS. 

What is counselling?

Counselling is a talking therapy. It gives you the opportunity to talk and reflect in a confidential and supportive space with a qualified counsellor who is registered or accredited with the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP). Counsellors do not offer advice or tell you what to do but help you to talk about your experiences to make it easier to find a way forward.

How can counselling help people affected by MS?

Counsellors help you to explore how MS may be affecting your wellbeing and how you are adapting emotionally.

MS-UK Counselling can support you with:

  • a mental health issue such as anxiety, low mood or depression
  • coming to terms with your MS diagnosis
  • a difficult transition such as a relapse, change of symptoms or a move to a different environment
  • a life event such as work-related stress, relationship difficulties or bereavement
  • emotions such as guilt, anger, low self-esteem and confidence

What is involved?

First of all you will have an assessment with a MS-UK Counsellor, to make sure this service is right for you. If everyone agrees to go ahead, you will have six sessions that are on the same day and time each week. Each session lasts 50 minutes, and can be delivered over the phone or via a video link. All clients must be over 18. At the end you will have the chance to give us feedback, or seek further support if you feel you need it. 

Counselling is a safe and non-judgmental space for you to talk about any worries you might have about any aspect of your experience with MS. Any information we take down is kept on our encrypted servers here at MS-UK and is not passed on to any third parties unless you ask us to. We will only break confidentiality in the event of a safeguarding issue which would mean any form of harm to either you or someone else.

How to register

You can register online using our web form, or give us a call on 0800 783 0518 and we can support you to register for MS-UK Counselling. 

MS-UK pilots Single Session therapy

Posted on: October 06 2020

Single session therapy.png

MS-UK is piloting single session therapy as a response to the anxieties and concerns that MSers have shared with us about the impact of COVID-19. There are currently only 20 spaces available for this first pilot so book quickly, but should this pilot be successful we would look to continue to offer it as a regular service. 


What is Single Session Therapy?

Single session therapy is a focussed one-off session with an MS-UK counsellor who uses their counselling skills to listen and help you find a way forward with a specific MS-related issue that is impacting on your daily life right now. The session will be conducted either by telephone or Zoom to ensure the service is accessible UK wide.


How do I sign up?
If you want to find out more about this pilot then please email Diana Crowe, Head of Services at who will send you more information about how to take part. Please note that you must have an MS diagnosis to qualify for this pilot. 


About MS-UK Counselling

MS-UK Counselling is a confidential service for people who have a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis (MS) and live in the UK. It is the only service of its kind available in the country.

Counselling is a talking therapy. It gives you the opportunity to talk and reflect in a confidential and supportive space with a qualified counsellor who is registered or accredited with the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP). MS-UK is a BACP organisational member and our number is 275169.

Counsellors do not offer advice or tell you what to do but help you to talk about your experiences to make it easier to find a way forward.

Your mental health and emotional wellbeing are linked to your experience of MS so our counsellors have had training about living with MS.

Counsellors help you to explore how the pandemic and MS may be affecting your wellbeing and how you are adapting emotionally.


Sign up

What is Cognitive behavioural therapy?

Posted on: October 06 2020

Image saying 'what is CBT?'To commemorate World Mental Health Day, all week we are sharing information and resources about mental health therapies and support available.

So, what is Cognitive behavioural therapy, or 'CBT' as it is often called?

CBT is a talking therapy that helps people manage their immediate problems by changing the way they think and behave. This may sound very difficult, yet CBT aims to break problems down into small, bitesize chunks so you can deal with them better. The therapy is rooted in the idea that our emotional and physical feelings are linked, so negative thoughts can feel very overwhelming and have a big impact on your day-to-day life. 

CBT helps you to change negative patterns. Unlike some more traditional talking therapies, CBT looks at the here and now, rather than focusing on your past. 

Key aspects of CBT:

  • It can be useful for dealing with negative thoughts, depression and anxiety
  • It may be useful for people with long-term health conditions, to help people cope with symptoms
  • You see a therapist once a week (or fortnightly) and each session lasts between 30 minutes to an hour
  • It is a short-term therapy, so it typically lasts between 5 and 20 sessions
  • It is highly structured
  • It is practical, so you can use it in your everyday life

Cognitive behavioural therapy is highly structured and can be quite short term (a course of treatment may last between 5 and 20 sessions), but it is important to remember that it is not suitable for everyone. It may not suit you if you need to look more at your past experiences like your childhood. 

How to access CBT

If you are interested in trying CBT, you can speak to your GP who will be able to guide you about the different therapies available and make a referral on your behalf. You can also refer yourself directly via the NHS Improving Access to Psychological Therapies service (IAPT).

Find out more about IAPT on the NHS website

Support from MS-UK

We are here to support you. You can contact the MS-UK Helpline either by calling us for free on 0800 783 0518 or by contacting us digitally. You can also register for MS-UK Counselling, which offers talking therapy for anyone with a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis (MS).

World Mental Health Day

On Saturday 10 October 2020, MS-UK will be sharing our Loneliness and Isolation report to encourage mental health for all, including people affected by MS. 

Discover more


"Every person with MS has a remarkable story to tell"

Posted on: October 05 2020

03D5507C-F8A1-466D-98EF-A1292DE19FA4_1_201_a.jpegWe chat to Grazina Berry, the new CEO of the Overcoming MS charity, on what their message and mission means for people living with MS

I joined the Overcoming MS (OMS) charity as its CEO at the start of July this year. I was drawn to OMS due a personal connection – a close member of the family lives with multiple sclerosis (MS), but also because the evidence-based seven-step recovery programme has immense potential to transform the lives of many at scale.

The programme is based on the work of George Jelinek, Professor and Head of the Neuroepidemiology Unit (NEU) at the University of Melbourne. The NEU investigates the modifiable lifestyle risk factors that predict the progression of MS with a view to refining a preventive and holistic approach to manage the condition.

There is some evidence that a range of environmental factors, such as low levels of sun exposure leading to a lack of vitamin D, a diet high in saturated fat, smoking, and stress play a significant role in MS progression. And so, at the core of the OMS programme are seven steps that can be taken to address those factors, by

  1. Diet. Eating a plant-based whole food diet, with no meat and dairy, and high in omega 3
  2. Vitamin D and sunlight. Getting sufficient levels of Vitamin D drawn directly from the sun by being outdoors, and supplementing daily
  3. Exercise. Doing at least 30 mins of exercise, three to five times a week
  4. Meditation and mindfulness. Making time daily to maintain a healthy mind and body connection to bust stress
  5. Medication. Taking medicines in consultation with your health professional
  6. Prevention. Some 25 percent of the risk of getting MS is genetic, and so making some changes early on (quitting smoking, getting enough vitamin D, eating a healthy diet that’s low in saturated fat, and supplemented with flaxseed oil, keeping those stress levels down and exercising regularly) can play a key preventative role in family members getting MS
  7. Lifestyle changes. Making these changes for life so you can live well, despite MS

Our main message is that thousands of people with MS world-wide have been able to adopt the OMS programme and are living well, and so can you. Our organisation is here to help, guide, inform and empower everyone to make these lifestyle changes and give people with MS real hope that they can live well.

Strong individuals

Every person with MS has a remarkable story to tell. For some, their story is full of hope and optimism, for others, it’s one of challenge. This is reflective of the fact that everyone’s life with MS will be very different. I’ve been particularly moved by the story of Abre, a 17-year old boy from South Africa. He lost his sight for six months at the age of just three, and 11 years later, was diagnosed with MS after a major relapse. Abre has been able to change his life, having discovered the OMS programme and is pursuing his dreams. His motto is ‘I have MS, MS does not have me’. This is powerful, inspiring and real.

The challenge for MSers

The world we live in at the moment due to the pandemic is extremely challenging, frightening and uncertain, and this is difficult for everyone. Being faced with MS can add to the challenges in a number of ways, for example

  • Diagnosis itself can be hard-hitting and difficult to accept, absorb, share with others and learn to live with, especially in the current situation. In the information age we live in, it can feel overwhelming to navigate through the mountain of advice and guidance and make decisions that you feel happy with.
  • You may worry about your vulnerability to Covid and have anxiety around vaccine availability and how it might interact with the medication you may be taking.
  • You may experience social isolation in the pandemic and feel exposed and vulnerable due to the condition and treatments you may be receiving, and this can be hard to deal with. Digital ways to remain connected and reduce loneliness can help.
  • Pressures on family life more broadly can exacerbate stress. Many are facing increased pressures on finances due to job losses. Finding practical ways to deal with stress, for example through meditation, might help relieve some of it.

For anyone newly diagnosed

Bearing in mind that advice at the point of diagnosis may not necessarily be welcome while the person takes time to process the news, I would first and foremost offer empathy and understanding. The reality of MS can be tough.

It’s quite common for people at the point of diagnosis to hear lots of ‘cannots’ and the focus on the likely detrimental impact of the condition on the individual’s life. Any advice I would give would focus more on the ‘cans’ and practical things that are within your control. You can take control of certain aspects of your life to help manage the condition, you can look at different options and treatment choices available to you, to help manage your MS, you can reach out to others living with it to share how you feel and seek support. You can live well.

My vision

I am very passionate about the community of people with MS that we serve, so my first priority is to build lasting and meaningful connections. It is vitally important that we develop and grow as an organisation, driven and inspired by the needs of people with MS. This means that we will work hard to enable easier access to the OMS programme for every person with MS, build more and better ways for people to connect with others, further boost our digital engagement and support channels. We will work with other organisations and healthcare providers so that every person diagnosed with MS is given the opportunity to make an informed choice as to their treatment pathway. A holistic lifestyle modification programme has to be one of these choices.

Find out more about OMS at

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Newly diagnosed with MS?

Posted on: October 05 2020

iStock-525737425.jpgIf you have recently been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS), you may well be feeling overwhelmed. You may even feel a sense of relief that you now have some answers. A whole range of thoughts and feelings are whizzing around your brain and you are wondering what to do now and where to go from here.

A diagnosis of MS may make you think quite differently about your life. It is normal to worry about what is going to happen, if a little twinge is another sign or symptom, or how the condition might progress and how it might affect your life. You may also be concerned about the effect MS will have on your family, friends, employment or hobbies. There is no right or wrong way to react to a diagnosis. It is your MS and how it affects you will be unique to you. Do not be afraid to openly discuss your emotions with family, friends, healthcare professionals or charities like us.

Everyone differs in how long it takes to accept their diagnosis. Some people may even say that they still don’t after many years. Acceptance is important in enabling you to live your life to the full and to reach a point where you are empowered to do so. This will not happen overnight, don’t ever feel there is a time limit, as it will differ for everybody. Just remember to be kind to yourself and give yourself the time you need.

Our Newly Diagnosed Choices booklet has a wealth of information for anyone who has MS. You can download the booklet from our website or order a printed version by filling out a form.

Get Newly Diagnosed Choices booklet

"Potentially this was a game changer in my interminable journey with MS"

Posted on: October 05 2020

Martin.jpgMartin Baum made a breakthough during last month's heatwave 

As an MSer of almost 40 years, I have found there are more questions than answers to living with multiple sclerosis (MS). My late father always used to say there were only solutions, never problems, but that was a time before MS challenged that philosophy, more’s the pity.

Yet while we MSers wait patiently for the cure that we hope will come, eventually, sometimes something does happen to make coexisting with an unwanted cuckoo in the MS nest liveable. While this has never been a perfect arrangement, the recent summer heatwave had been making an awful situation worse.

I recently wrote about enduring not only the summer nights but also having to tolerate the consequences of my body from overheating wihch you can read here. I finished the blog by saying how I had a gel pillow to try and cool my corrupted body thermostat. At the time of writing, however, it was still to be despatched from Amazon so I couldn’t really judge how efficient it was, if at all. I had a lot riding on this.

When it comes to buying ‘things’ I am, by my wife’s own exasperated admission, an advertiser’s dream. The blurb on the box, however, was very promising. ‘A naturally cooling gel pillow with the gel transferring the heat away from the body’. Potentially this was a game changer in my interminable journey with MS.

Cool Gel Pads 1.jpgThe room temperature the night I laid the thin blue gel mat on my pillow was nothing short of oppressive, as was my body. But here’s the thing. It worked. Up until that moment, from being sodden at night throughout the heatwave, the beads of sweat began to dissipate. Some nights it took a little longer than others for the gel pad to kick in but, nonetheless, it has every time since.

Night sweats have always been an issue which I’ve had to live with as a natural consequence of having MS. However, there was something about this summer’s heatwave that for me was the tightening of the MS screw that was my breaking point. Something had to be done and mercifully the gel pad came through for me.

Since the blog was published the response to my inbox has told me that this is also an issue for a lot of other MSers which confirms I am not alone. Clearly, while I’ve been waiting all my MS life for a miracle, so have others. Yet, because of the gel pad, within minutes, it was my escape from my own body heat. I hope this will be the same for others, too.

The Vinsani Cool Gel Pad Pillow Gel Inlay costs £6.99 and is available on Amazon. Did you know if you set up Amazon Sile and choose MS-UK as your nominated charity, Amazon will donate money to our charity every time you make a purchase, at no extra costs to you?  Visit Amazon Smile