Peace of mind


Dr Hayley van Zwanenberg, group associate medical director of the Priory Group, the mental healthcare specialists, talks about the new Priory Wellbeing Centre on Harley Street, its pioneering parenthood, pregnancy and family life service, and helping people getting their lives back on track

We are very excited to be opening a facility here on Harley Street. The group has hospitals and Wellbeing Centres across the country, all of which are staffed with the top consultants and therapists in their fields. The new Harley Street Wellbeing Centre offers out-patient treatments for a wide range of mental health conditions including depression, addiction, anxiety, workplace stress and eating disorders, for which we are well known. If a patient needs in-patient care, we are able to arrange it seamlessly through the Priory hospitals.

Something we are very excited about is the launch of a brand-new parenthood, pregnancy and family life service, which is currently only available at this centre. It is designed to meet the needs of women who are struggling with any aspect of conception, pregnancy or parenthood—for example, undergoing fertility treatment, coping with the pregnancy, dealing with childbirth or bonding with a new baby. These are all parts of a single journey, yet they are often approached as individual issues. With this service, we can look at them in a holistic way and offer women psychological support for the whole process.

Brain stimulation
Another service we are offering here is called repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) therapy. This is a treatment for people suffering from depression who have not responded to anti-depressant medication. It involves using magnets to stimulate areas of the brain that affect your moods. It has been around for a while now, but is still not commonly available despite yielding excellent results.

One aspect of the group that we are very proud of is our accessibility. People come to us via many paths. Some come because of our reputation, others through personal recommendations. Either way they can pick up the phone and ring one of our centres. The calls are answered by highly trained and helpful receptionists who will talk through their difficulties and advise them which of our clinicians would be best suited to their needs. Sometimes the first contact will come from a GP who knows our work. Occasionally we will ask for a GP referral, particularly when dealing with young people—in those cases it is often good to have that line of communication open.

Discrete and relaxed
The vast majority of people who come for treatment are relieved to be here. These Wellbeing Centres are such discrete, relaxed settings—people feel glad to be in a place where they can finally get help. Even if they were reluctant to attend that initial meeting, after that first visit they are generally happy to come back.

The wonderful thing about our Wellbeing Centres is that you can see them making huge differences to people who are struggling with mental health issues—it makes you want more people to realise that this option is available to them, that mental health treatment is covered under many health insurance policies. With our highly trained staff giving the appropriate treatment, people can start enjoying their lives again; they will do better at work or in school, be happier at home. If they can access the right treatment, they can start the journey towards getting their lives back.