Self Help

About us

Self Help is a user-led mental health charity based in the North of England, and forms part of The Big Life group.

Every year, one in four of us will experience a mental health problem. Self Help believe no-one should have to face this alone. We are here to provide the support, advice, tools and techniques you need to help you take control of your life.

We believe in people having a choice in mental health care and we value the experiences of those who have had a mental health difficulty at some point in their life.

A lot of our work is funded by local health authorities, who pay us to provide high quality services across the North of England. We also raise money for special projects by applying to trusts and other grant-making bodies.

Because we’re part of The Big Life group, our work is guided by the same values and approach as all Big Life services, and we share the same mission. Big Life is in the business of changing lives. We fight inequality by working with people and places to create opportunities and inspire change.

Our services

We provide a wide range of types of support for people living with mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, phobias and panic attacks, including:

Talking Therapies: Talking Therapies involve talking to someone trained to help you deal with negative feelings. They can help anyone who is experiencing distress. You do not have to be told by a doctor that you have a mental health problem to be offered or benefit from a talking therapy.

We currently offer Talking Therapies in the following areas:

eTherapy: With eTherapy, you can work through a series of exercises on your computer and learn techniques to help manage any problems in your life and feel better about yourself. Our team are available to provide you with assistance when you access any of our eTherapy programmes.

Peer Support: Peer Support is built on shared personal experience and empathy, focusing on your strengths, with the goal of achieving wellbeing and recovery. Whether it’s social, emotional or practical support, Peer Support allows you to benefit, whether you are giving or receiving it.

See all the services we provide

About Nicky Lidbetter

Nicky walked through the Big Life’s doors in 1995, on a mission to start the first self-help group for anxiety and to show the world that people with mental health problems could run services for themselves.

The Zion Anxiety Group was the start of something very special, and in the years that followed, a plethora of vibrant condition-specific support groups were developed. Nearly a decade later, Nicky developed the first user-led, primary care, clinical mental health service and quickly secured commissions to deliver IAPT services and the Sanctuary Crisis Centre; an initiative directly developed from her own experiences of anxiety.

Nicky’s current role cuts across the whole of Big Life, as Director of Mental Health. This means she plays a key role in identifying new services and opportunities, and ensures that mental health has a part to play in every service that the group offers.

Before joining Big Life, Nicky worked in neuroscience as a scientific officer, studying novel anxiolytics (anti-anxiety drugs). She has also served as a non-executive director on a number of NHS boards as well as holding directorships and senior roles in other health organisations.


Our history

Self Help was established in 1995 by Nicky Lidbetter and Glenmore Nunes, who developed a drop-in support group for those living with anxiety disorders as a direct result of there being little support at the time in the city of Manchester.

The group (which ran under the Big Life group) was an overnight success and it soon became apparent that there was a need for further groups covering different mental health conditions such as depression.

Throughout the late 90s, Self Help delivered a wide range of drop-in support groups and subsequently developed a reputation for responding to community-based needs through the delivery of high quality services.

With the introduction of the government’s Improving Access to Psychological Therapies initiative (IAPT), the charity was approached by a number of NHS commissioning bodies to deliver a range of primary care mental health services including managing and delivering full IAPT tier 2 and 3 services alongside delivering its well-established eTherapy services.

More recently, the organisation’s long history of responding to unmet need and developing services where there are gaps in mental health provision is best illustrated by the development of community and peer-centred crisis provision through The Sanctuary and associated crisis service provision which have received national recognition.

From that one small drop-in group, amazing things have happened, and a vibrant mental health charity has emerged.

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