Talk Radio: John Nicholson on Mental Health Awareness Week

Smart TMS’s CEO Gerard Barnes was invited to speak to Talk Radio’s John Nicholson on Mental Health Awareness Week about the prevalence, stigma and treatment of mental health conditions including depression, anxiety and OCD.

He says:

“…the UK’s mental health bill weighs in apparently at £94bn annually, but how much does treatment work?”

Gerard Barnes, CEO of Smart TMS, was invited to give his expert input. He explained first of all

“Smart TMS is a company which specialises in treating people with mental health conditions. We use a technique called TMS which stands for transcranial magnetic stimulation and that is essentially using a powerful electromagnet, about the same power as you’d get in an MRI machine, which we have a small one of those which we put on your head and it’s completely painless but through the wonders of electromagnetism, we can create currents in the nerve cells in your brain which will essentially get the brain working again and if we do that enough times, we can cause patients to gain remission from their depression. So that all sounds too good to be true but I’m pleased to say that NICE – the National Institute of Clinical Health and Excellence – reviewed it 3 years ago and they’ve approved it, consider it to be safe and effective. So it works really well and the great thing for us is that we see, in our clinics, we see patients getting better every day.”

John Nicholson said he was surprised to have read that 1 in 2 of us suffer from undiagnosed mental health conditions and asked what sort of conditions it might be that we may not recognise.

Gerard replied:

“There are a wide range of mental health conditions from the ones that people know about – depression and OCD which are quite commonly known.”

He explained that real OCD is a very debilitating condition – much more than being very tidy:

“We had a patient who I’m pleased to say we got better who was convinced that on his way to work he had run somebody over and so he’d then go back and retrace his steps – or he’d pushed somebody under a bus – proper obsessive compulsive thoughts that he just couldn’t manage.

“Very pleased to say that in his case TMS was able to get him better but then there are a wide range of other less common conditions that people can find very debilitating.

“I can list a range of conditions for you but I’m not sure that would be very helpful for your listeners. We’ve got depersonalisation disorder which is described as the commonest mental health condition that nobody’s ever heard of.”

John enquired what depersonalisation disorder is and Gerard explained that about 1% of the population suffer from this condition which makes patients feel emotionally numb:

“It’s a condition where you feel removed from yourself; so you feel like you’re sort of watching yourself you can feel like you’re out of body.”

He then moved onto explain borderline personality disorder:

“…quite hard to diagnose because sometimes it manifests as depression, sometimes it manifests as anxiety; and so it is a very complicated field and very hard for doctors to diagnose, to accurately diagnose patients. Quite often people have more than one condition at the same time.”

Listen to the Interview

Listen on Talk Radio section 18.30-19.00, starts at 05:00 minutes.

TMS Treatment

Transcranial magnetic stimulation treatment can help with a range of difficult mental health conditions. Find out more about how it works.


Smart TMS was established in 2015, dedicated to providing TMS treatment in London at their South Kensington/Brompton Cross centre. The company opened a second clinic in Birmingham in September 2017 and also has a base in Northampton.  The first Irish clinic was opened in Dublin in October 2017 and in 2018, Smart TMS opened further locations in Manchester, Bristol and Havant (South Coast).


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