What is stress and how do you cope with it?
Do you have too much to do and an overloaded mind? Are others making unreasonable demands on you? Are you dealing with situations that you feel like you have no control over? If so, there is every possibility that you may feel stressed.
Stress is not a medical diagnosis, but severe stress that continues for a long time may lead to a diagnosis of depression, anxiety, or more severe mental health problems.
The effects of stress can be reduced by being more conscious of the things that cause it, and learning to handle them better, using relaxation techniques and making other lifestyle changes.
What causes stress?
Stressful situations are recognised as those that are associated with change. Some of the causes of stress are happy events, but because they bring big changes or make unusual demands on you, they can still be stressful.
What causes stress in one person may not cause stress in another and it is the point at which the pressure of dealing with all the issues confronting us gets beyond our ability to cope that stress will be a likely outcome.
An accumulation of significant life events in one year increases your vulnerability to stress-related health problems (Holmes and Rahe, 1967). These include:
- marriage and divorce
- personal injury or illness in yourself or a friend or family member
- moving house
- change in school
- having a baby
Stress is also caused by long-term difficult circumstances, such as:
- relationship problems
- caring for a disabled family member or friend
- difficulties at school or work
Not having enough work, activities or change in your life can be just as stressful as having too much activity and change to deal with.
Is stress harmful?
Stress is a positive force that can improve our performance. If you are taking part in a performance or presentation, taking an exam or you have to do an important piece of work for a deadline, it will be stressful even if you enjoy it, but the stress itself will keep you alert and focussed.
Stress is a bit like an electric current in that it gives us energy but if turned up too high, can produce unpleasant effects and cause deterioration in our performance.
In order to avoid stress-related mental health problems we have to identify our optimal level of stress and be aware of when we are pushed beyond this.
It is worth remembering that nobody is stronger or weaker than anybody else and that we are all made up of a collection of strengths and weaknesses.
The release of adrenaline causes blood to flow rapidly and breathing and heart rate to increase, to get you ready to defend yourself (fight) or to run away (flight). If the threat is physical, you use the effects of the adrenaline appropriately – to fight or to run, and when the danger is passed your body recovers.
But if the stress is emotional, the effects of adrenaline subside more slowly, and you may go on feeling agitated over a long period of time which is bad for both physical and mental health.
The other stress hormone, cortisol, is present in your body all the time, but levels increase in response to danger and stress.
In the short-term, its effects are positive, to help you deal with an immediate crisis, but long-term stress means that cortisol builds up and creates a number of stress-related health problems including anxiety and not being able to think clearly.
Responding to stress-related events
It’s not just events and changes in the outside world that determine how you feel, but how you perceive and respond to those events and changes.
The important point is that you learn to recognise your own responses to stress and develop skills to deal with it well.
Ways of coping with stress
Find out what treatments are available and try a stress test, together with expert advice on the Stressbusting website.
Post-traumatic stress disorder
Post-traumatic stress disorder describes symptoms people may experience after a traumatic event takes place.
It can also be described as a delayed reaction to the trauma of going through a bad experience.
Symptoms can include:
- vivid flashbacks (feeling as if the trauma is happening all over again)
- intrusive thoughts and images
- intense distress at real or symbolic reminders of the trauma.
Young people can find more information on post-traumatic stress on the Young Minds website.
Parents, carers and those who work with young people can find more details on what the causes and symptoms of traumatic stress are and read about practical advice on how to get the Royal Institute of Psychiatrist’s ‘Growing up and Mental Health’ fact sheet.
School work and exams too much for children?
Are you worried that school work and exams are affecting your child's behaviour, mental health or emotional wellbeing? Do you need to know where to get help and what to do next?
"I find myself working for longer as the exams get closer. It’s a vicious cycle. You stress, so you can’t sleep. Because you can’t sleep, you don’t get as much work done the next day. So you work for longer and stress more, so you sleep even less." Gracie (18)
A little stress can keep us on our toes and aid performance but too much of it can be overwhelming and cause acute anxiety in both adults and children alike.
Parents are often at the sharp end of their child’s reaction to stress and often don’t know where to go to get help to cope.
Young Minds has set up specific help pages for parents who are not only worried about their children but are also feeling stressed themselves.
There is also advice for teachers and pupils on coping with stresses at school.
Surrey County Council also has tips on their schools and learning pages about reducing the effects of stress.
Family Lives, a charity with over three decades of experience in helping parents to deal with the changes that are a constant part of family life, has a list of helpful tips for parents on exam revision including:
- Being lenient about their child’s chores and untidiness as much as you are able to.
- Understanding lost tempers and moodiness.
- Trying to avoid nagging them as it can cause them to lose focus.
Information on other school and university topics can also be found on the Family Lives website.
Surrey County Council Libraries are part of the national Reading Well scheme which aims to provide books for those experiencing mild to moderate mental health problems such as stress, anxiety and depression. The books are available online and in a selection of our libraries.
Self-help books can be very effective when read on their own, or when used with prescribed medication, counselling or therapy. These have been recommended by GPs and other health professionals and are designed to give practical information and advice.
All our titles encourage self awareness and help you to develop an understanding of these health issues. Reading them will help you to develop strategies for coping and improve your overall health and wellbeing.
Surrey’s schools, children's centres, nurseries and youth groups enjoyed the fun of our 11th Feeling Good Week that ran from 16 June. The week helped to raise awareness of emotional health issues with children, parents, carers and school staff.
There’s still a chance to apply for a £70 grant to put towards activities if you haven’t held your FGW yet and have it in your calendar for later on in the summer term.
Be quick though as the closing date for applications is 4 July.
Keep an eye on the Feeling Good Week web pages for news on what children got up to.
This year’s theme is ‘Together We Can’ which encourages schools, nurseries and youth organizations to promote emotional wellbeing by helping young people explore the benefits of working together towards joint achievements.
Activity ideas and information on Feeling Good Week, including a grant application form, can be found in the CAMHS Feeling Good Week Resource Pack on the CAMHS website.
For more information contact the CAMHS communications team at email@example.com
The Mental Health Foundation Mental Health Awareness Week in May focused on the theme of anxiety and was a huge success.
The ‘Are You Anxiety Aware?’ booklet can be downloaded here and it is also available as an easy read guide for people with learning disabilities.
The Mental Health Foundation is now pleased to present this year’s Anxiety 2014 Arts Festival programme. Mental Health Awareness Week 2015 will focus on relationships, and will take place from 11-17 May 2015.
Tickets are now available for over 80 events spanning multiple venues across London throughout the rest of June and July. The varied programme will explore anxiety in the arts in a wide variety of exciting, innovative ways.
Sign up to the Anxiety 2014 mailing list to be kept up-to-date
The first edition of ‘Our Voice for parents and carers’ is out now.
Designed specifically for parents and carers, it’s full of information about how to cope with young people’s mental health conditions, case studies and true stories based on parent’s own experiences.
The new magazine provides explanations of what services CAMHS provides, who is who in CAMHS and includes a section on jargon-busting.
The magazine is designed to reassure parents and carers that they are not alone with the sometimes frightening situation of finding themselves with a family member who has a mental health illness.
It is also designed as a forum to enable them to have their say about CAMHS and how they think the service that is provided can be improved or changed.
Copies of the magazine can be found in CAMHS clinics and, from July, in doctors’ surgeries.
For more information and to get involved please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
YoungMinds is working with NHS England to support the participation of parents and carers in improving mental health services for children and young people.
They would like to use your wealth of expert experience to inform services about why and how they should involve parents to constantly improve the services they are delivering to children and young people and their families.
Click on this link for more information and register for the project here.
Working with LGBT Young People within CYPS SABP
This survey aims to explore how many children and young people who use our services identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual or Transgender (LGBT), and what the initial reason for referral is.
If you come into direct clinical contact with children and young people please share your views on whether or not you are confident about speaking to LGBTQ young people.
Young people who identify as LGBT are at greater risk of mental health difficulties, including deliberate self-harm, depression and substance abuse.
The aim of the five minute survey is to identify whether practitioners would benefit from training to enhance their knowledge of LGBT and how to apply this to their practice.
You can complete the survey here.
This survey is being carried out by Zoe Walton and Georgia Gold (Honorary Assistant Psychologists), supervised by Beth Taylor (Trainee Clinical Psychologist) and Kate Pelissier (Interim Consultant Systemic Psychotherapist).
For further information or a copy of the findings, please contact:
Zoe.Walton@sabp.nhs.uk or Georgia.Gold@sabp.nhs.uk
CAMHS Youth Advisors (CYA) is made up of a group of young people who have their own personal experience of accessing CAMHS. We have a say in what goes on in CAMHS and take part in a variety of projects.
CYA works to ensure that children and young people who use CAMHS have a voice, through being involved in recruitment, staff training, service development and lots more.
Our main aim is to get more users involved with the decisions within the service, because a service aimed at young people should be developed by them too.
CAMHS Rights and Participation Team
The team supports the work of CYA and has grown recently! We are welcoming Daniel Hitch, Chloe Argundale and Danielle Wilkinson as Children’s Right Apprentices.
Liam Dinning and Mikal Mursaleen have also joined the team and are working as trainees supporting CYA and our projects.
Here are some of the things CYA has been up to:
- ‘CYA in Schools’ presentations at three Surrey schools
- Redecorated Beeches, a residential home for children and young people with learning disabilities.
- Redecorated at Cedar House (Frimley CAMHS)
- Working on creating a CYA website which we hope to launch at the CYA Awards
- Planning for the CYA Awards and running music workshops for young people
CYA West is a fortnightly group for children and young who have had experience of accessing mental health services in Surrey. The group is held at The Bisley Youth Centre, from 5.30-7.30pm on Tuesdays. It is open to young people of all ages who live in or around the Surrey Heath area.
The group has been looking at different consultation work and has started to plan this year’s CYA Awards as well as preparing mental health talks to give at youth centres in Surrey.
CYA East is now changing location and, because of this, we have to postpone meeting dates until a new venue and dates are confirmed. We will be giving out the new details very soon.
Redhill drop in
This group meets monthly on the fourth Wednesday of every month at the Redhill CAMHS Clinic.
The group is for young people in the North East of Surrey. There is no age limit but the group is aimed at children and young people from the ages of 11-15years old.
Younger or older people are more than welcome and can be offered a facilitating role in the group.
Redhill drop in always welcomes new members so feel free to contact us if you are interested in coming along or know of someone who may be.
Recently the group had fun making biscuits, planning for the CYA Awards and working more on the Redhill Clinic garden area.
CYA Woking meets monthly on the third Tuesday of every month from 5.30-7.30pm at Quadrant Court, Woking. Young people of all ages are welcomed.
If anyone would like more information about the CYA groups please check out the CYA page on the CAMHS website.
Each group has a page that shows all the upcoming meeting dates and how to get involved!
Upload training is mandatory for any professionals working in CYPS. We are currently working on setting training dates for this year.
More information will be out soon with information on how to book your place.
We are currently working on Our Voice Edition 11. The magazine is created to help reduce young people’s anxiety whilst sitting in waiting rooms for CAMHS appointments.
It provides service and mental health information, whilst reducing the stigma surrounding mental health.
We are always after articles for the magazines! If you would like to have your article, poem or picture featured in the next edition email it to us on: email@example.com
The authors of the top three articles voted for by the CAMHS Youth Advisors (CYA) will each receive a £5 voucher!
A special edition of Our Voice for Parents and Carers is out now. For more information and to get involved please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
CYA in Schools
Recently we have been very busy giving mental health talks to schools around Surrey.
CYA in Schools presentations are aimed at increasing the awareness and understanding of mental health whilst reducing the stigma around it.
Our young presenters will share their experiences of accessing mental health services and what it has been like for them. The presentations are tailor-made for each school.
To find out more, or to book a CYA in Schools presentation please contact us on email@example.com or call on 01482 519571
Come and join us
We are always looking for young people to join CYA. Just contact us directly via our email address below or give us a call.
Professionals should always get the young person’s permission before passing their details on to us. We will contact the young person as soon as we can.
Contact the team on firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01483 519 571.
The CYA Awards 2014 will be held on the 11 of July from 6-9pm so make sure to save this date!
The awards will be held at the HG Wells Centre, Woking. The evening will be full of entertainment, award giving and celebrating everyone’s achievements.
Young people have been preparing by holding music workshops for those singing and performing on the night!
Award nominations are no longer being taken.
Book your place now but be quick as there are limited spaces!
Post-traumatic stress disorder can affect people after experiencing a traumatic event.
This could be something such as a car accident, bereavement, medical problems, abuse or other life experiences.
People with post-traumatic stress disorder may have flash backs of memories, which can leave them feeling very anxious and with disturbed sleep.
There are different therapies to help people who have it including EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) and sometimes medication.
Research has found that people who have previously had PTSD eventually find the following easier:
- Relationships - people find they value their friends and family more.
- People change their views of themselves. They can find they have developed personal strength, wisdom and have a greater acceptance of their vulnerabilities and limitations.
- People find they can appreciate each day more and understand what really matters in life. They can become less materialistic and more able to live in the present.
Psychologists are starting to think that stress following trauma is not always a sign of disorder but a normal and natural emotional struggle to rebuild their lives and make sense of what has happened.
A tragic event in life is often what it takes to make changes to our lives and learn how to overcome difficulties and in the long run can make people stronger.
Written by a CAMHS Youth Advisor
This Department for Education report gives non-statutory advice and clarifies the responsibility of the school, outlines what they can do and how to support a child or young person whose behaviour - whether it is disruptive, withdrawn, anxious, depressed or otherwise - may be related to an unmet mental health need.
The behaviour and discipline in schools advice sets out the powers and duties for school staff and approaches that could be adopted to manage behaviour in their schools.
Read the report here
See Roger Morgan's last report of children’s views as Children’s Rights Director, summarising the views and experiences children gave in consultations carried out between 2004 and 2014.
It is intended as a ‘digest’ in one place of the children’s views on many rights, welfare and safeguarding subjects.
Read the report here
Mental health problems can affect a young person’s ability to engage with education, make and keep friends, have constructive family relationships and make their own way in the world.
Prevention and intervention in adolescence is critical for wellbeing.
This research summary pulls together some of the themes emerging from the literature with a selection of new research work and pointers to new guidance.
Read the research summary here.
Our Family Therapy courses are now in their tenth year and both are AFT accredited.
The Foundation and Intermediate courses offer multidisciplinary training in the concepts and skills that come from Systemic Family Therapy.
The training is suitable for practitioners working in education, health and social care settings. The participants will be expected to apply learning from the course to their work setting.
Applications for places close on 6 July.
Click here for details of application criteria and content of both courses.
The next NHS Guildford and Waverley Clinical Commissioning Group is taking place on 22 July 2014 at the Radisson Blu Edwardian Hotel, 3 Alexander Terrace, High Street, Guildford, GU1 3DA.
Questions for the CCG’s Governing Body are invited.
Please email your questions to the Governing Body Secretary GWCCG.GBSecretary@nhs.net at least five working days before the meeting (by 15 July, 2014).
More details about the next Public Governing Body meeting, including links to the minutes of previous meetings, can be found on the NHS website.
An agenda and papers will be published on the above website by the 15 July.
Sarah Tomkins, general manager for CAMHS and Learning Disability services is moving on to pastures new at the end of July.
She will be joining Central Surrey Health in more senior role within child health services and will continue to work with children, families and schools.
Totally passionate about mental health for children, Sarah says that the new role will blend the emotional needs of children and families with their physical needs.
Sarah has worked within children and young people's services in Surrey for over 11 years and has had several roles, her latest being a general manager for the whole of Surrey.
Sarah has led on so many things for the benefit of children, young people and families, and staff and I know she will be very much missed by all!
We are losing a very experienced, dynamic and well respected colleague, and someone who is a friend to many!
Sarah's sense of humour in the face of many challenges within our services will be missed as well!
I would like to say a huge thank you to Sarah and very best wishes for her future on behalf of us all.
Mandy Dunn , Director, Children & Young People's Services
For the past nine months I have been on placement at South West Surrey CAMHS. My role during this time was as an Honorary Assistant Primary Mental Health Worker under the supervision of Victoria Karp.
I wanted to share my experiences with you.
I didn’t realise just how varied and interesting mental health work is!
During my time here I have been shadowing clinicians in their assessments and treatment where possible and have assisted all members of the team. I knew that it was up to me to get as much out of my placement as possible and I have to say that it far exceeded my expectations.
The Primary Mental Health Team was extremely welcoming and friendly right from the start which made it very easy to feel settled and less of a newcomer. Every member was very warm and helpful if approached and despite my worries about being the only male present for the majority of the time this did not actually matter. I was also much more trusted and given more responsibility than I was expecting; rather than being a student there for a few months I felt like a member of the team.
The first couple of months were all about learning and I read as many resources as I could and attended training sessions, growing in confidence every day. “Everybody’s Business” was the course that had the biggest impact on me as it made me much more aware of mental health, the implications of diagnosis and also what can cause/prevent mental health issues – it was a real ‘eye-opener’ for me.
By observing clinical sessions I learnt about just how much of an effect a mental illness can have on an individual (regardless of age) and upon those who surround them. I think that has to be one of the biggest things that I take away from placement; not only the difficulties that people with a mental illness must face but the difficulties faced by those that care for them and wish to help them.
Having never received counselling my impression of mental health treatment/therapy was based solely upon movies/cartoons where a Freudian couch is always featured and dreams are discussed. Needless to say the Freudian couch was not present.
However what I did learn was the skills required and the different techniques and strategies that can be used by both the therapist and the client with the aim of helping the client tackle their difficulties.
Some of the skills that I have observed (and hopefully begun to develop) include having a calm and open manner of speech and language, being very open-minded and considerate of the problems being discussed and also being very reassuring about the troubles being faced by a person and what emotions these arouse.
I now know that there is an enormous number of people struggling with a variety of mental health issues, some of which are severe. This I learnt from my various courses and time at CAMHS but most specifically from the days where I assisted at Access CAMHS with the referral process.
I have been researching some of the different mental illnesses that I observed in a clinical session, many of which I had never heard of before, such as Cyclical Vomiting Syndrome (CVS) and Foetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorders (FASD).
I was also able to visit other services and observe a number of different therapies. One of the most memorable of these was my observation of some Eye-Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) sessions, led by one of the leading EMDR specialists in the UK. This is a very different approach from therapies such as CBT or Psycho-dynamic therapy.
I have thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of my placement and am very grateful to Victoria Karp and the rest of the PMHT for all the support and help that they have given me.
I would love the opportunity to work in this role or team again as it has helped narrow my career aims and I believe I would like to pursue a career along the lines of Child and Adolescent Mental Health.
Returning to university to finish my degree now seems like a daunting prospect, however hopefully it will lead me to a team and career such as this.
Duncan Ross, Honorary Assistant Primary Mental Health Worker, SW Surrey CAMHS
Taking a break is good for your mental health but did you know that you can support the Mental Health Foundation wherever you travel in 2014?
Whether you're beach-bound, hitting the big city or off camping with the little ones - everything from flights to train tickets and travel insurance (even your flip-flops) can be bought online through Give as you Live.
Just sign up to Give as you Live and you can shop at thousands of retailers, including travel sites like lastminute.com, Expedia, Thomas Cook, thetrainline and more.
Each Give as you Live retailer will donate a percentage of your purchase to the Mental Health Foundation on your behalf - without costing you a penny extra.