What is stress?

Stress is a normal reaction to certain tasks or events in our lives, which happens automatically in our bodies. However, when stress gets too much and goes on for too long it stops being helpful to us and eventually can become a risk to our mental health.

You may have heard of the ‘fight or flight response’. This is when your body gets a surge of hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol which make you more alert and ready to react. It is very useful when we are threatened or in danger and need to run away or protect ourselves. However, when this reaction occurs regularly in situations where there is no real physical threat it can start to have a negative impact on both our mental and physical health.

What causes stress?

There are many reasons why you might feel over-stressed, different things causes stress in different people and often stress is the build-up of lots of things rather than a single event.

These are some of things that can cause stress:

  • Pressure from school/college work and exams
  • Lots of change – starting a new school or college or moving to a new area for example
  • Problems with friendships or relationships
  • Arguing with your parents/ lots of conflict at home
  • Being bullied
  • Your parents/carers splitting up
  • Financial problems in your family
  • Having lots of responsibilities – for example having to care for a parent or sibling, on top of school work
  • Being homeless
  • Being a young parent
  • Someone close to you all being ill or dying

See Epic Friends or The Mix for more information about stress and tips on how to manage it.

How do I know if I’m stressed?

Stress can build up without us really noticing, so it’s important to look out for early signs that things are getting too much or starting to feel out of control, then we can take steps to reduce it and find some healthy ways to cope.

Signs of too much stress can include:

  • Feeling under pressure or overwhelmed all the time
  • Feeling you can’t cope
  • Feeling tense, anxious or panicky all the time
  • Feeling low, irritable, moody or burned out
  • Losing your temper, a lot
  • Finding it hard to concentrate or make decisions
  • Blocking out difficult feelings by using drugs or alcohol

Stress can also give you physical symptoms, you might:

  • Have lots of headaches, stomach aches or muscle pains
  • Feel sick, dizzy or light headed
  • Have a racing heart or shaky hands
  • Feel exhausted and run down
  • Lose your appetite, or only feel like eating sugary, fatty foods
  • Find it hard to sleep
  • Get lots of colds, coughs, cold sores, mouth ulcers or infections

What helps?

Talking about why you are stressed will allow you to identify solutions to help reduce your stress levels. For example, if you’re overwhelmed at school then you should talk to your teachers. Together you can come up with a plan to make your work more manageable. This could involve reducing your work load, having a deadline extension or getting some extra support with certain tasks.

How can I help myself?

There are lots of things that you can do to reduce stress. It’s important to find some time and make changes.

  1. Take time out – take some time to unwind, relax and do something you enjoy. This could include reading a book, watching a film, playing computer games or listening to music.
  2. Look after your body – stress can be draining, being kind to our bodies will help us cope better. This includes eating healthily and regularly exercising. Although you might crave fatty, sugary foods or turn to energy drinks and caffeine these will only increase stress and tiredness. Try to eat a healthy diet including lots of fruit and vegetables, drink plenty of water and don’t skip meals! Regular exercise helps to get rid of negative energy and releases ‘feel good’ chemicals in our brains that helps to boost mood. Try going for a run, cycle, swim or surf, or join a dance or boxing class. Playing Wii Fit, doing or punching a punch bag in your bedroom also count as exercise!
  3. Get plenty of sleep – get some early nights and try to wind down before you go to bed. Turn off the technology, stop working or studying, maybe take a bath or have a hot drink. Listen to music or watch TV if you are finding it hard to switch off.
  4. Avoid using drugs, alcohol or smoking to cope with stress these will only provide temporary relief and can make things worse in the long run
  5. Talk – Talking to people you trust can help to put problems in to perspective and help create a solution
  6. Get creative – express difficult feelings creatively, they are better out than in! Creative activities can also be relaxing. You could try drawing, colouring, painting, writing poetry, lyrics or short stories, making music, dancing, doing crafts or baking.
  7. Connect with nature – spending some time outdoors each week has been proven to reduce stress and improve wellbeing. Getting some fresh air, looking around us and noticing the landscape and wildlife can ‘blow away the cobwebs’ and boost our mood.
  8. Make time for fun and laughter – do something you enjoy each day, take up a new hobby, play a computer game or socialise with friends or family. Humour and laughter are great ways to relieve stress, so find things to laugh at every day.
  9. Switch off from technology – while social media is a great way to keep in touch it can also add to our stresses and anxieties. If you are feeling stressed by social media try taking a few days off and see how you feel.
  10. Take control – feeling in control of a situation helps you to cope with it better. Try breaking down tasks or problems which feel huge in to smaller chunks that you can tackle one at a time. You can also prioritise things, just think about what is most important right now and what can wait. If you are feeling stressed about exams, then you might want to try writing a revision timetable with small tasks to achieve each day. Problems are easier to deal with one at a time, and writing things down can make them seem less scary. But pick your battles, there are lots of things in life we cannot change or control. Sometimes it is just best to accept that these things (or people!) are as they are, and focus on what we can control or change instead.
  11. Practise positive thinking – this doesn’t mean ignoring difficult situations, it means trying to approach these with a more positive and productive attitude. Changing the way you think about stressful things can help you to cope with them better. Try replacing negative and unhelpful thoughts such as ‘I can’t cope’ or ‘I’m going to fail’ with more positive and realistic ones like ‘I can do this, I’ve done it before’, ‘I’ve done the work and will do my best on the day’.And don’t beat yourself up – we tend to be much harder on ourselves than we are on others. Try following this simple rule – ‘don’t say anything to yourself that you wouldn’t say to a friend’.
  12. Ask for help – you don’t have to cope alone, if things feel really overwhelming then it is important to ask for help from a parent/carer, trusted adult or professional.



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.


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 [email protected] or through the Young People Cornwall referral form which can be requested by emailing: [email protected]

Who can be referred?

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


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.


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 [email protected] 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.


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: [email protected]

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.

Mental Health Support Team

Who are they?

The Mental Health Support Team support primary aged children in schools by working with a Senior Mental Health Lead who has a dedicated role in the school to deliver whole school approaches to promoting better mental health, alongside offering one-one interventions.  The service also focuses on reaching out to all children who are not in school for whatever reason, such as electively home educated children.  The service works closely with the investment from Headstart Kernow in building on the Trauma Informed Schools training already implemented in Cornwall.

What Mental Health conditions do they support?

  • Anxiety
  • Low Mood
  • Social and Friendship Problems
  • Mild Conduct Problems
  • Problems maintaining concentration
  • Learning Readiness

What services do they provide?

  • Delivering Children and Young People Increasing Access to Psychological Therapies (CYPIAPT) evidence-based interventions for mild to moderate mental health and emotional wellbeing needs.
  • Supporting senior mental health leads in education settings to develop and introduce their whole-school approach to mental health and emotional wellbeing.
  • Providing timely advice to staff and liaising with external specialist services so that children and young people can get the right support and remain in education.

When are they open?

Monday to Friday 9am – 5pm, with the exception that some interventions are delivered at a time suitable for families.


Main Base operates from Shaw House, Porthpean Road, St. Austell PL26 6AD, with Teams working throughout Primary Schools in Restormel and Kerrier localities.

How do I refer?

Referrals should be made via the Early Help Hub following an initial discussion with EMHP.

Contact the Early Help Hub by calling 01872 322277 or emailing [email protected]

All referrals into the service are discussed at a weekly MDT. If there is no intervention deemed suitable for a young person’s needs, the referral is returned to the original referrer with explanation and suggestions for alternative services.

Who can be referred?

The I Thrive framework considers individual needs and requests for help.  The main criteria for support would be around whether there is a low intensity CBT intervention that would meet the child’s needs.

They aim to have a discussion with the Senior Mental Health Lead (SML) first, if possible. There is an expectation that the referrer will discuss any young people they would like to refer with an Education Mental health Practitioner (EMHP), prior to sending a request through to the Early Help Hub.

CAMHS Access Team

Who are they?

The CAMHS access team is the first point of contact for requests for help and where all referrals are triaged and allocated to the most appropriate service. The key philosophy is to ensure that the child or young person gets the right help at the right time and in the right place.

What services do they provide?

  • Referral triaging

When are they open?

9am – 5pm, Monday to Friday (excluding Bank Holidays)


New County Hall Treyew Road, Truro TR1 3AY Cornwall

How do I refer?

Cornwall CAMHS take referrals from any source, including parents or self-referrals. There is a referral form that is sent to a central multi-agency Hub based in County Hall in Truro. Each referral is carefully screened by a CAMHS clinician.

For more information visit: cornwall.gov.uk/earlyhelp or call: 01872 322277

Who can be referred?

Children and young people who are aged pre-birth to 18. If a young person has a special educational need or disability, who have a need for early help care and support, this is extended up to age 25.

Community CAMHS Teams

Who are they?

The Community CAMHS Teams.

What Mental Health conditions do they support?

  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Tic Disorder
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Complex Trauma
  • Psychosis
  • Manic Disorder
  • Anorexia
  • Bulimia
  • Self-Harm
  • Mental Health Crisis
  • Conduct Disorder
  • Personality Disorder

What services do they provide?

Children and young people who have completed an assessment with the service and meet the criteria can be offered intervention and/or specialist assessment within one of our care pathways by the Community CAMHS teams. These mainly describe the process of care within getting help although for some needs they extend into getting more help or describe the offer of advice and support from getting advice services.

When are they open?

9am – 5pm, Monday to Friday (excluding Bank Holidays)


West (Kerrier): The Hive, Kernow Building, Wilson Way, Pool, TR15 3QE

West (Penwith): Bolitho House, Laregan Hill, Penzance, TR18 4NY

Mid (Restormal): Shaw House, Porthpean Road, St Austell, PL26 6AD

Mid (Carrick): Truro Health Park, Infirmary Hill, Truro, TR1 2JA

East (North East/ Bodmin): Launceston Integrated CAMHS and Children's Centre, Coronation Park, Launceston, PL15 9DQ

East (South East): 6A Heathlands Business Park, Liskeard, PL14 4DH

How do I refer?

Cornwall CAMHS take referrals from any source, including parents or self-referrals. There is a referral form that is sent to a central multi-agency Hub based in County Hall in Truro. Each referral is carefully screened by a CAMHS clinician.

For more information visit: cornwall.gov.uk/earlyhelp or call:

West (Kerrier): 01209 204000

West (Penwith): 01736 571070

Mid (Restormal): 01726 873292

Mid (Carrick): 01872 221446

East (North East/ Bodmin): 01566 761100

East (South East): 01579 373850

Who can be referred?

They accept referrals for children and young people up to the age of 18 years. This includes those with a learning disability and/or neuro–developmental disability who are registered with a GP based within Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

A referral that doesn’t meet the threshold for a specialist intervention, but the child has a moderate level of impairment can be allocated to the Primary Mental Health Team (PMHT). These workers are specialists in early interventions in mental health and will offer consultation and advice. They have some limited capacity to offer some solution focussed interventions.

Myth buster #1

Myth: Stress is bad

Fact: People tend to talk about stress as if it is totally negative, actually some forms of stress can be good for us! A little bit of stress or stimulation can help us to stay motivated and productive, it gives us energy and can help us to concentrate and focus, it drives us to meet deadlines or perform well in exams, sports or public speaking for example. Without this type of helpful stress, we might lack energy, become unmotivated and feel  bored and even lazy. Stress becomes a problem for us, and may threaten our mental health and wellbeing, when it feels overwhelming and when we cannot find support or ways of dealing with it, and finding hopeful ways forward. Stress becomes a problem when it Is long lasting and feels overwhelming.

Watch this ted talk to find out how to make stress your friend.

Myth buster #2

Myth: Stress is a sign of success

Fact: We live in a society where busyness and stress seem to be worn like a badge of honour, showing how important and hardworking we are. However, while a little bit of stress and stimulation can motivate us to perform better, too much stress quickly overwhelms us and leads to underperformance. Overworking can lead to burn out in the end, rather than making us more successful. So remember to take a break.

Myth buster #3

Myth: Stress is everywhere and you can’t do anything about it.

Fact: There are lots of things you can do to reduce stress, for example setting priorities and problem solving rather than worrying, and making sure you build activities to help you unwind into your daily routine. This could include exercise, relaxation, a hobby or club, or just watching something you like on TV.

Useful resources


A self-help app for young people to manage stress and anxiety


Try out the ‘Stresshead’ app for some immediate stress relief

Need help now?

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


NHS 24/7 helpline : 0800 038 5300
Childline up to 19 yrs: 0800 1111
The Samaritans: 116 123
In an emergency go to A&E or call 999