Stress Awareness Workshops in Schools...

For Mental Health Awareness Week we interviewed Catherine Sweet, our reptile brainCounselling Coordinator in the Plymouth School's Project to find out about the psycheducational workshops the team have been delivering to young people in schools. 

Can you tell us what you have been up to recently in Plymouth schools?

We are going into secondary schools delivering engaging and practical workshops to small groups of 8 about stress and building resilience.  Resilience has been commonly defined by the young people in the workshops as ‘The ability to keep going’.  We help young people to understand what stress is and identify the impact it has on us physically and mentally as individuals. We look at the biology of stress and what happens inside our brains when we are faced with stress. Finally we look at ways of becoming more resilient to stress, how to reduce it and how to help calm our brains down so that we can feel happier and get the things done that we want to.  We look at why stress can actually be useful sometimes and how our bodies try and protect us from danger. 

Where did the idea for these workshops come from?

Feeling stressed was a common mental health difficulty that was raised from feedback by young people.  It is actually something that affects us all naturally because we are human. Knowledge is power and sometimes when we understand what is happening in our bodies then we can know how to help ourselves given the right tools. 

Why is it important to deliver these workshops?

The reactions that we all have when placed under pressure are unique to everyone but sometimes we think that we are the only ones suffering.  Some of the YP that we have worked with have said that the workshops have helped them realise that they are not alone and together they come up with ideas of what can help them to feel better.  I have been blown over with the amount of wisdom in the groups! School can be a high pressurised environment but stressors will always be in our lives. Therefore it’s really important to learn skills of being resilient as early on as we can to set us up for life.  We hope that the YP will pass on their new understanding and skills to others in their schools.  

What feedback have you recieved?

The workshops have been positively received within the schools as helpful with lots of interest in the reptilian brain and not feeling alone was common feedback.

“I’ve had loads of counselling, including CBT, but this was the best. It has helped me to understand what is happening to me. I like this type of group work and would like to do more of it.” - Young person. 


All 19 secondary schools in Plymouth have been offered our psychoeducational workshops, the first one being linked to stress. We aim to deliver 2 workshops per school, per term to ensure young people are equipped with the tools they need to become resilent. These workshops are just one of the many projects and services Young Devon run to ensure that school students are supported to understand mental health and how to help themselves and others. 


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