Lisa Erlandsen: From Couch to Coach – How I Turned Around my Mental Health Struggles

In a world where mental health issues are more prominent than ever before it can seem like the only stories are negative. When the trend is going in this direction positive role models are more precious than ever, and our latest feature follows a woman who is just that. Someone who smashed through her glass ceilings, overcame her struggles and turned her biggest weakness into her greatest strength.


Since overcoming her mental health struggles with addiction, anxiety and emetophobia (a fear of sickness/illness) she started her own mental health coaching company where she imparts what she learned on her own journey and uses it to help others.


Who I am:

I currently run my own mental health coaching business, Thrive with Lisa, as a Licensed Thrive Consultant for a mental health programme called The Thrive Programme. If anyone had told me I could do that 5 or 6 years ago I’d have thought they were a lunatic… Sometimes it’s strange to think of myself as a businesswoman or entrepreneur but equally I just love knowing that I’m in charge of how successful I am and that I set my own bar – it’s something I really value outside of the more corporate worlds where I had to climb set ladders and hit certain targets or tick boxes to keep moving up. Now everything I do is down to me and it’s a breath of fresh air as a woman to feel that I am entirely in control of what I achieve!


Where I’ve come from:

I used to work in politics for MPs (one of whom was a Government Minister) – it was always my dream to work in the heart of politics and I managed it! I’m also proud of the amazing career experience I’ve built, and of taking the big decision to requalify in mental health and be able to help others, which I studied for around 9 months alongside a full-time job.

I honestly believe that the biggest barrier I ever faced in any career was myself. One of the biggest skills I learned when I finally took charge of my mental health was to unlock my potential and get out of my own way. The self-doubt and low self-esteem that I struggled with for years, the lack of confidence that meant I didn’t ask for pay rises or put myself forward for new challenges or roles, and the constant nagging belief that I wasn’t good enough – these weren’t necessarily true but I believed them so strongly that they held me back for a long time. Self-belief is hugely important, particularly when you are trying to break new ground or do something that hasn’t been done before, a position many women may be in right now!!


How I turned around my struggles with mental health:

I’m nearly two years sober now which is a huge achievement and I can use as a real life example to any clients struggling with alcohol too. Last year I did a ‘Tough Mudder’ for my 30th birthday which we nicknamed my ‘Dirty Thirty’ which I did because I wanted to finish my twenties in a much better way than I started them… I wouldn’t say I enjoyed the Tough Mudder, but I certainly felt a sense of achievement from it! In that way, I can tell my clients that I’m also achieving goals and pushing myself too, so it’s almost like a shared journey.


How I lead:

I think the most important thing for me is to try to practice what I preach – and that’s sometimes harder than it sounds! I tell my clients that the world is theirs to own if they start making the choices to do that and challenging themselves, and I teach them how to have the most helpful thinking styles and beliefs to do that, so it’s only natural that I need to be doing that too! It’s also about self-development; I try never to think I’m as ‘thriving’ or ‘successful’ as I can ever be, and instead think ‘how can I take it up a level now’?!


My key motivators:

I have a desire to make a difference. In whatever way I can. Particularly in the areas of female empowerment and success, as well as mental health and addiction/substance abuse, areas where my heart now firmly lies. Anything I can do to make things even a little bit better for someone and I’m all in. I know what rock bottom looks like and the view isn’t too rosy, so I get a lot of personal satisfaction in helping people out of that place.


Where I’m going next:

My biggest goals are to improve mental wellbeing in my own local area (and beyond!), and to change attitudes to mental health/wellbeing. I also hope to do more to lift up (and change attitudes to) people who struggle with alcohol or drug issues, and to improve not just treatment access but also to ensure that those treatments are more effective.

As a woman, I’d also love to be involved with more projects to help other women. We have some truly brilliant women who will be our leaders of the future in all kinds of fields, but we have to give them every opportunity and inspiration to get there!

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