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Mental Health Awareness Week: West Berkshire's youth counselling charity Time to Talk says be kind to yourself

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Throughout Mental Health Awareness Week we have been highlighting local organisations that can offer support.

Today, Davina Nicholson, clinical lead at charity Time to Talk West Berkshire (T2T), writes about ‘self-help’ and ‘self-compassion’.

T2T is an independent charity, set up in 1986, that provides mental health support to more than 500 young people through free counselling sessions.

Time to Talk offers free counselling services for children and young people
Time to Talk offers free counselling services for children and young people

It is currently the only youth counselling service in West Berkshire that is free at point of access and it provides early intervention for vulnerable young people aged 11 – 25.

If you need support and/or want to find out more please email us at hello@t2twb.org or call 01635 760331.

T2T is not an emergency service and advises that if anyone is in urgent need they can:
• Contact your GP or Visit A&E
• Text ‘Shout’ to 85258 – they will get back to you via text
• Call the Samaritans free on 116 123

Time to talk self-compassion with Davina Nicholson

"We are celebrating mental health awareness week and exam season is upon us. Many of the young people who come to Time to Talk are feeling the pressure put on them by adults, but there is also another person who puts pressure on, and that is the pressure we put on ourselves; we will all recognise “the voice in our own head”.

"This inner pressure can be described as our ‘inner critic’ and unfortunately it can be quite often harsher than the pressure put on us from other people. What happens is that we internalise comments made to us and because critical comments tend to impact on us more than positive ones, these negative messages stay with us far longer than the kinder, gentler messages.

"Some people think that being harsh on ourselves or others produces results, but there is much evidence to prove the opposite. When we are criticised, we feel threatened, which goes on to trigger the part of our brain called the amygdala which is responsible for detecting threat. The result is that we are effectively in ‘fight/flight-mode’ and this isn’t the best emotional state to be in long term, or to perform in an exam situation. Although a small amount of adrenalin is good for performance, in general feeling calm and positive is preferable.

"So how do we help ourselves to feel better when under pressure? Starting to transform the tone of the ‘voice in our head’ from critical to compassionate is incredibly powerful. If you can remember when someone said something kind to you and how it felt – that is the tone we need to adopt in our relationship with ourselves.

"Try and think of someone who is kind to you or think of a ‘mash up’ of kind people/animals/figures and imagine the kind and encouraging things they might say to you or how they make you feel. When someone tells us we are doing well – we tend to do even better! So we might try saying things to ourselves like “You have got this”, “You are doing better than you think”.

"This is hard, so take it one small step at a time. Self-compassion is a super-power!"

You can find more help and advice from the following organisations:

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