This week, 7 – 11 November, is International Stress Awareness Week which is organised by the International Stress Management Association (ISMA).

Stress is defined by the Mental Health Foundation as “the degree to which you feel overwhelmed or unable to cope as a result of pressures that are unmanageable”.

The theme of Stress Awareness Week this year is “Working Together to Build Resilience & Reduce Stress”. Organisations throughout Powys are currently working very closely together to help support people through the Cost of Living Crisis – there is further information in the second half of this blog post.

Meanwhile, to start us off with some top tips about how to relieve stress, we spoke to one of our Powys Mental Health Individual Representatives*, John Lilley. He told us what has worked for him when dealing with stresses in his day-to-day life.

*The Individual Representatives are people who have either used, or care for somebody who has used, mental health services. These unpaid volunteers sit on regional and national partnership boards, alongside professionals who are involved in the delivery of services. 

The reps are there to make sure user / carer voice is included in the planning of services and they are always on hand to listen to your experiences and issues so that they can feed this back to the partnership groups. You can contact the reps by emailing the Participation Officer Owen Griffkin on or calling 01597 822191.
John Lilley – Powys Individual Representative Mental Health

I found the 8 week Mindfulness course I took with Mid & North Powys Mind very helpful. There is a new online course currently on offer – An Introduction to Quantum Consciousness Therapy which starts on 14 November and runs for 4 weeks with John Paul.

There is also a half-day session on the Five Ways to Wellbeing – which includes reflection and creating personal goals to put the Five Ways into practice in your own life. You can also find out more about the Five Ways to Wellbeing on the Powys Mental Health website.

Previously I benefited from taking exercise classes in Rhayader as part of the Welsh National Exercise Referral Scheme. Clients of the Community Mental Health team can be referred for safe and effective community-based exercise opportunities. This includes:
Healthy lifestyle advice as appropriate in partnership with the CMHT.

Promoting and improving the mental and physical well-being of clients.

Increasing clients’ physical activity on a long-term basis.

I also want to raise awareness of the excellent work that is being done to support 
children and young people with positive mental health in Powys. 
Here are three initiatives I want to highlight:

Thinking about options for younger age groups, Mindfulness is now offered to children and young people in Powys schools. You can find out more about this from Linda Gutierrez, Emotional Health & Wellbeing Lead in the Powys County Council Pupil Referral Service, by watching this short video.

Ysgol Calon Cymru – the school at the heart of Wales – has two campuses – in Builth Wells and Llandrindod Wells. Earlier this year the school won a Wellbeing Award for achieving A National Standard for Positive Mental Health & Emotional Wellbeing for their wellbeing support and helpful resources for both pupils and parents / carers.

Kooth, the online mental wellbeing community for children and young people, offers a lot of good online support, with a mental wellbeing community.

Children and young people across the whole of Mid and West Wales can now access Kooth’s service as both Powys Teaching Health Board and Hywel Dda University Health Board work with Kooth to provide an online counselling and emotional wellbeing service for this age group. Kooth provides a blended approach of online counselling, support, and advice to young people, which is free, safe, and anonymous by friendly counsellors.

Finally, I also like this edited list of tips from Peter Beresford’s* book “Being a Mental Health Service User”:
One thing at a time.

Try to live day by day, one step at a time.

Don’t anticipate troubles and problems (living in the moment).

Give yourself the same advice you’d give others.

All things pass – including the bad things.

No one is less than me. I am not less than them.

We can get real help and support from others. But the people we can feel closest to, and who offer the most natural understanding and mutual aid, are people who have ‘been there’ like us.

* Peter Beresford OBE is a long-term user of mental health services and Co-Chair of Shaping our Lives, the national independent service user-controlled organisation and network. He is also Professor Emeritus of Social Policy at Brunel University London and Visiting Professor at Edge Hill University and the University of East Anglia.

Cost of living crisis and your mental health
Here are some links to other services / online resources that could be of help at this difficult time.

Mental Health & Money Advice

Mental Health & Money Advice is a UK-wide online advice service designed to help you understand, manage and improve your financial and mental health. Difficulties in resolving financial matters can exacerbate mental health distress leading to a vicious cycle of increased stress and worry. Find online support, expert advice, tools and calculators, template letters, real life stories and much more on the website.

Mental Health & Money Advice has been developed by Mental Health UK, a UK-wide charity that represents its four member charities; Rethink Mental Illness in England, Adferiad Recovery in Wales, Support in Mind in Scotland and MindWise in Northern Ireland.

Welsh Government

On the Welsh Government website Get help with the cost of living you can find out more about living costs, housing, financial help, benefits entitlement, school and childcare expenses, and health & wellbeing.

Powys County Council – Cost of living hub

Powys County Council has launched a campaign to help support residents and businesses with the rising cost of living.

The council has worked closely with local partner organisations to pull together a wide range of information in one place to ensure people know what help is already available and how to access it.

The online hub, which can be found at, has been created to offer as much advice as possible to those in Powys who may need it during this time.

The #CostOfLiving campaign aims to provide information and advice on:
Household energy advice.

Money, benefits and debt advice.

Powys foodbanks.

Support with household utility bill.

Support for businesses.

Support for families with children.

Powys Family Information Service

The Powys Youth and Family Information Service is a one-stop shop where parents, carers, young people and professionals can obtain a range of information for children and young people aged 0-25 years and their families. The team recently produced an excellent guide to support available to people on a range of issues in relation to the cost of living crisis.

Citizens Advice

Citizens Advice, the independent information and advice service, has extensive information on its website relating to the cost of living crisis.

If you have any tips and ideas about how to deal with stress and the current cost of living crisis then please let us know in the comments section below.

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