What is Anxiety?

Anxiety is the feeling of fear or panic that we all experience at times. It can be a very physical experience, making us feel tense, shaky, dizzy, nauseous or short of breath or giving us butterflies in our stomachs, a racing heart or sweaty palms. It also affects our thoughts and behaviour, for example we tend to avoid things that make us feel anxious.

Problems with anxiety are very common, 1 in 6 young people will experience an anxiety problem at some point and we all have times when we feel worried, nervous or uptight. Often there is a good reason for this, such as starting something new or difficult, doing an exam, performing or speaking in front of people, or having to tell someone something you think they won’t want to hear. Normally the anxiety goes away once the difficult situation is over, however if these feelings stick around or become stronger even when there is nothing to be worried about, that’s when anxiety can become a problem.

There are different types of anxiety problem.

Panic attacks:

Feelings of intense anxiety that seem to come out of the blue, they normally last a few minutes and can make people feel breathless, trapped and out of control, or as if they are ‘going crazy’ or about to die. People who have had panic attacks often become very anxious about having another one. This is called ‘fear of the fear’.

Phobias:

When people feel very anxious or panicky about one (or multiple) specific things, which may not be dangerous in itself or cause others to feel anxious – for example, phobias of spiders and other insects are very common, but people can also have phobias of going outside (agoraphobia), of going to school or social phobia which can have a big impact on their lives.

Generalised anxiety:

Causes people to worry about lots of different things a lot of the time, this means they are constantly stressed and anxious and it makes everyday life difficult. People who experience social anxiety feel very anxious and self-conscious in social situations and often worry that others are judging them negatively. People who experience health anxiety become preoccupied by and worry excessively about illnesses and symptoms, frequently going to the doctor, self-diagnosing or looking for reassurance online. Sometimes people even experience unexplained physical symptoms which are caused by their anxiety.

What causes Anxiety?

Anxiety disorders have a complex range of causes, including:

Environmental factors: Stress from a personal relationship, job, school, or financial predicament can contribute greatly to anxiety disorders.

Genetics/brain chemistry: People who have family members with an anxiety disorder are more likely to have one themselves as their brain chemistry may differ and react more severely to triggers.

Medical factors: Some medical conditions can lead to an anxiety disorder. This could be a result of the symptoms or as a side effect of medication.

How do I know if I have Anxiety?

When we are anxious our body is actually protecting us from perceived danger. Without some anxiety we would not survive. You may have heard of the ‘fight, flight or freeze response’, this is when our body gets a surge of hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol which make us more alert and ready to react to danger. It is very useful when we are physically threatened and need to run away or protect ourselves. This is the same response that causes many of the unpleasant physical symptoms we experience when we are anxious. For example our muscles tense, we breathe faster to pump more oxygen around our body and blood gets diverted away from areas that aren’t being used (our tummy or fingers) this means we are ready to run or fight, but it also makes us feel breathless, lightheaded, shaky or tingly.

The problem with anxiety is that our body responds like this even when we are not actually in any physical danger. This can be very uncomfortable and distressing, but it is important to remember that these feelings are not dangerous, people don’t become very unwell or die of anxiety alone, and anxiety will always pass eventually.

Watch our video ‘World of Science’ for an alternative perspective on ‘fight or flight’.

Symptoms of anxiety

  • Feeling frightened, nervous or panicky regularly and over a sustained period of time
  • Avoiding doing things or going to places where you feel anxious – school or work, crowded places, public speaking or social activities for example
  • A sense of dread or feeling constantly on edge or irritable
  • Worrying and going over and over things in your mind
  • Feeling down, depressed or tired
  • Having difficulty getting to sleep, or waking in the night
  • Losing your appetite
  • Finding it hard to concentrate
  • Panicking
  • Physical symptoms such as a racing heart, fast shallow breathing, a dry mouth, shaking, sweating, feeling dizzy or faint, having an upset stomach, unexplained aches and pains, headaches or pins and needles

What helps?

Just understanding what anxiety is and why it makes us feel like this can help us to reduce its power and manage it better. However, if you are feeling anxious a lot of the time or anxiety is beginning to have a negative impact on your life such as causing difficulties with school, work, friendships or family life then you may benefit from help from a counsellor, nurse, psychotherapist or doctor. You could talk to your parents/carers, GP, school nurse, youth worker, pastoral support or teacher about this.

How can I help myself?

Anxiety is very treatable and there are lots of things that you can do yourself to help, including:

Physical exercise – running, walking, swimming, cycling or going to the gym can help to get rid of anxious and negative energy and help to boost our mood.

Distraction – focusing on feelings of panic, or on negative and anxious thoughts, makes them worse, instead finding something else to do and think about can be helpful. Some people find that watching TV, playing video games or a musical instrument, listening to music, or doing a puzzle or something creative helps.

Talking to someone – anxious thoughts can be very overwhelming and talking about to someone we trust can help to gain some perspective, break problems down, challenge anxious/negative thoughts and see things in a new light.

Relaxation – learning to relax can help us to control and reduce anxious feelings. We can do this by controlling our breathing or relaxing our bodies or we can use techniques such as yoga, meditation or mindfulness. Alternative therapies such as massage, aromatherapy and acupuncture can also be helpful for managing anxiety.

Diet – it’s also worth remembering that anxiety symptoms are very similar to the feelings we get when we are hungry and have low blood sugar. Low blood sugar and drinking caffeine can also make anxiety worse, so make sure you are eating regular healthy meals and try to avoid caffeinated and very sugary drinks.

ER Groups

Who are they?

Emotional Resilience Groups are a 6-week programme which provides a safe space and social support for young people to build emotional resilience. The programme provides young people with early support around concerns such as anxiety, low mood, stress, relationship difficulties and bullying.

What Mental Health conditions do they support?

Anxiety, low mood, stress, low self-esteem, poor communication skills, self-harm and risk taking.

What services do they provide?

  • Sessions focus on developing emotional resilience through promoting emotional wellbeing, positive mental health, self-help and peer support
  • Young people will develop skills and strategies to manage low level mental health difficulties and access appropriate support.

When are they open?

This can vary but generally Monday-Friday

Where?

Within schools and Community venues across Cornwall.

How do I refer?

Via email: referral@ypc.org.uk

Who can be referred?

Children and young people aged 11-25 with mild to moderate mental health

HeadStart Your Way

Who are they?

HeadStart Your Way is the Community strand of HeadStart Kernow delivered by the Your Way partnership. They support young people aged 10-16, parents, carers, volunteers and community groups through their Youth and Community Facilitators aiming to prevent the onset of mental ill health.

What Mental Health conditions do they support?

The main target group for support within HeadStart are young people with low level anxiety and stress through to mild and early stage mental ill health. However, all staff have also been trained within the Trauma Informed Schools approach to develop an in-depth understanding of what it’s like for a young person to suffer from specific mental health problems e.g. depression / anxiety and feel confident in offering them accurate empathy, understanding and key psycho-education support.

What services do they provide?

Their Youth Facilitators can provide you with direct support through one to one workshops and group activities. Offering a safe and confidential place to talk as well as giving you the relevant information and techniques to help with your emotional wellbeing.

Their Community Facilitators can provide links between young people, schools, community groups, professional and parents. As well as delivering specialist training packages tailored to parents/carers, community groups, VCSE providers and volunteers around mental health and wellbeing. They also manage a group of volunteer mentors who can offer you support, understanding and encouragement through any challenges you might be experiencing, at a lower level than our Youth Facilitators provision.

When are they open?

Their services are arranged between Monday – Friday by the individual and Facilitator.

Where?

Their Facilitators arrange visits in schools, local outreach and community venues across the County dependent on the individual they are supporting.

How do I refer?

Referrals should be made via the Early Help Hub by requesting a "Bloom" consultation. The Early Help Hub will then ensure that the most appropriate means of help and support are given. It’s important to note that a referral into Bloom does not guarantee support from a HeadStart Youth Facilitator. It is however the only way to access HeadStarts one-to-one support. Contact the Early Help Hub by calling 01872 322277 or emailing earlyhelphub@cornwall.gov.uk

Who can be referred?

10-16 year olds with Mild to Moderate Mental Health issues.

Hear Our Voice 1-2-1

Who are they?

The Hear Our Voice 1-2-1 NHS Commissioned service is a project that provides targeted one to one intervention to young people who are experiencing mild to moderate difficulties with their mental health and emotional well-being.

What Mental Health conditions do they support?

Anxiety, Depression, risk taking behaviours, low confidence and self-esteem.

What services do they provide?

  • A safe and inclusive environment that supports young people to explore
  • Mental health management
  • Resilience building
  • Positive coping strategies development
  • Supporting young people in setting and achieving their goals using a range of individual interventions including youth work and goal setting methods.

When are they open?

This can vary. Intervention usually takes place during weekdays; however, evenings and weekends are available to meet the needs of the young person.

Where?

Countywide

How do I refer?

Via email: referral@ypc.org.uk

Who can be referred?

Children and young people aged 11-18 with mild to moderate mental health

Hear Our Voice WP CYP

Who are they?

Hear Our Voice WP CYP (Children and Young People Increasing Access to Psychological Therapies) is a project Commissioned by the NHS and delivered by Young People Cornwall (YPC) and AFC. They provide Low intensity Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (LI CBT). The idea for LICBT is to operate at an early intervention level where presentations experienced are mild to moderate. LI CBT is a single stranded approach meaning that the focus will be on the ‘main’ concern such as anxiety or depression rather than co-morbidities and complex presentations.

LICBT is an approach that is considered non-intrusive and considered guided self-help. The overall aim is to replace unhelpful habits with more adaptive/helpful habits and strategies and places the focus on one’s thoughts and behaviours.

What Mental Health conditions do they support?

Anxiety, Depression/low-mood and Behavioural difficulties (13+)

What services do they provide?

  • Low intensity Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
  • Lifestyle management

When are they open?

Their services are arranged between Monday – Friday by the individual and the WP CYP

Where?

Each WP CYP will arrange visits in schools, homes, local outreach and community venues dependent on the individual they are supporting.

How do I refer?

Referrals are taken directly through the organisations request for help form and referral management system or through the Early Help Hub.

Who can be referred?

Children and young people (age) with mild to moderate anxiety and depression presentations, including social phobia, separation anxiety, generalised anxiety, panic (including panic with agoraphobia), mild health anxiety, simple phobia, sleep problems & stress management.

Exclusions include high risk children and young people including entrenched self-harm, complex cases (co-morbidities), chronic depression and anxiety, Bi-polar depression, blood vomit and needle phobia, PTSD, bereavement, complex interpersonal and relationship issues, pain management, psychosis, eating disorders, historical and current experiences of abuse/violence.

Outlook South West

Who are they?

Outlook South West are an organisation who support young people aged 16 and over within Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly with their mental health issues through Psychological Therapies.

What Mental Health conditions do they support?

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Panic Disorder
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Antenatal and Postnatal Depression

What services do they provide?

  • Psychological Therapies
  • Patient-centred Therapy
  • Psycho-educational courses & groups
  • Individual one-to-one therapy (i.e. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)
  • Online therapy (i.e. SilverCloud)
  • Telephone CBT

When are they open?

Mondays to Fridays 9am - 5pm

Where?

Their therapies are provided throughout GP surgeries and their locality offices across Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly

How do I refer?

Referrals from professionals and individuals can be made Online (https://gateway.mayden.co.uk/referral-v2/01d3ec67-a688-4700-8b1e-ad3acacabf07), by email (OSWLLP.Referrals@nhs.net) or by Telephone (01208 871905)

Speak Up Cornwall

Who are they?

Run by Young people Cornwall (YPC) speak up Cornwall is a participation group for young people aged 13-24 looking at, supporting with youth voice and creating tool kits for mental health services across Cornwall. Speak Up Cornwall works at both a local reginal and national levels. It also supports services at a strategic level as well as service entry level.

What Mental Health conditions do they support?

  • Current members have a wide range of mental health issues.
  • What services do they provide?
  • Participation group
  • Support
  • Peer Support

When are they open?

Days and times will be confirmed by the group lead.

Where?

They meet once a month at Zebs youth centre The Leats, Town Centre, Truro TR1 3AG.

They also work remotely (over social media) and attend meetings, conferences and events all over Cornwall, the southwest and nationally.

How do I refer?

Via emailing charlotte.brasier@ypc.org.uk or through the Young People Cornwall referral form which can be requested by emailing: referral@ypc.org.uk

Who can be referred?

Young People aged 13-24 with an awareness of mental health services.

Xenzone

Who are they?

XenZone is an organisation that provides Face to Face and online mental health services for children, young people and adults. Kooth, from XenZone, is a free online counselling and emotional well-being platform for children and young people, accessible through mobile, tablet and desktop.

What Mental Health conditions do they support?

Anxiety, Stress, Identity, Sexuality, Health, Relationships, Eating Disorders (no restriction to this currently).

What services do they provide?

  • Face to Face & Online Counselling
  • Online Mentoring
  • IPT-A Counselling
  • CBT Counselling
  • A range of psychotherapeutic practices and methods (each dependent on the associate)

When are they open?

Their Online services are available Monday-Friday 12pm-10pm and Saturday-Sunday 4pm-10pm.

Their face to face services are arranged between Monday – Friday by the individual and counsellor.

Where?

Their Face to Face team arranges visits in schools, local outreach and community venues dependent on the individual they are supporting.

How do I refer?

Via email cornwalloffice@xenzone.com or phone for face to Face support but email is always recommended. You, a family member or professional can make a referral to the service.

For online services you can create an account and log on to the website to access information and support.

Who can be referred?

Children and young people up to the age of 19 (up to the eve of 20th Birthday) experiencing Mental Health difficulties.

Young Men’s group

Who are they?

Run by Young people Cornwall (YPC) the service is for male individuals aged 11-19 with low level mental health issues to engage in group work. Their 1 to 1 service is first offered, with invitation to join a group. Group operates similar to a youth group in that young people can relax in a safe space, engage with workers and other group members through activities, enjoy informal discussion and have something to eat. Group trips to residential centres, activity providers and meals out also happen.

What Mental Health conditions do they support?

A wide range of low level general mental health concerns such as Anxiety, depression, stress, low mood, self-harm etc.

What services do they provide?

  • 1 to 1 work
  • Group work

When are they open?

Two groups are run once a week on a weekday evening for two and a half hours.

Where?

Previous groups took place in Launceston & Liskeard but these will be moving locations towards the Redruth, Camborne & Pool area as well as St Ives.

How do I refer?

Via email: referral@ypc.org.uk

Referrals can be made from a wide range of sources such as yourself, school, charity service, CAMHS, G.P, parent, targeted youth worker and police. Once referrals have been received workers aim to make contact within 7 days.

Who can be referred?

Young men aged 11-19. Usual referrals indicate willingness to get involved with group work at some point. Criteria can include; social skills, social isolation, low level mental health, learning disability, victims of crime, general low confidence and self-esteem.

Myth buster #1

Myth: People who have anxiety are weak.
Fact: Everyone will experience anxiety at some point. We experience anxiety in dangerous situations to help us survive but when anxiety occurs when there is no real threat and negatively impacts on people’s lives it does not mean they are weak. In fact people who struggle with Anxiety often show great strength and determination to overcome their difficulties.

Myth buster #2

Myth: People with Anxiety should avoid stress
Fact: Stress can increase Anxiety, however seeing yourself as fragile, avoiding stress and situations that cause anxiety will only make it worse in the long run. You can be anxious and still do those things. Treatment for Anxiety usually involves gradually and safely exposing you to your fears, so you can learn to cope with and reduce these.

Useful resources

Mindshift

An app designed to help young people understand and cope with anxiety

Anxiety BC

A great Canadian website about anxiety for young people – lots of information and expert advice

Need help now?

If you need to speak to someone urgently call your GP or family doctor!

or

Childline up to 19yrs : 0800 1111
The Samaritans: 116 123
In an emergency go to A&E or call 999

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