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Earlier this month we celebrated World Mental Health Day on Wednesday 10 October. The World Federation for Mental Health is the driver behind this important awareness day.The theme this year was “young people and mental health in a changing world.” So what better place to raise awareness about caring for the emotional health and wellbeing of young people than the two college bases in Powys – Newtown in the North, and Brecon in the South. We worked closely with colleagues at NPTC Group of Colleges, which is one of the largest Further Education providers in Wales, to run an information event at each campus.

Brecon High School pupils on a visit to the Brecon college campus

The day was a great success. Rather than write a long blog post, I am posting photographs and feedback from some of those who attended to capture a flavour of what happened on the day.

Julia Gorman (Ponthafren Association), Claire Powell (Community Connector),
Jen Hawkins (PAVO), Sarah Dale (Individual Rep), and a student from the Newtown college campus

Jen Hawkins, Health & Social Care Information Officer, PAVO

It’s good to talk, especially when it comes to mental health. Emojis and cake provided the perfect way to start conversations around mental health at Newtown College as part of PAVO’s World Mental Health Day event.

Cake was definitely an added advantage with lots of people initially attracted by free cake to start their day but it soon proved a perfect way to begin to talk about feelings.

An Emoji wall of fame provided a great backdrop for students and staff to identify how they were feeling in a supportive, open way. Before long the wall was soon covered with a colourful range of post it notes that covered a whole spectrum of emotions. It was great to read all the positive comments, where people were feeling great, happy and excited but poignant to have people share that they felt broken, numb and worried or anxious. This was a good opportunity to point people in the right direction of supportive services such as the college counsellor and third sector organisations like Ponthafren Association.

Comments were also received in Arabic and Spanish, which just goes to show that no matter what language we may speak it’s good to talk about mental health.

Claire Powell, Community Connector – Newtown, Llanfair Caereinion, Montgomery

I was surprised at how well some of the students were able to express how they felt using just one word and it gets you thinking – do they have enough opportunity to express their true feelings in a safe and supportive environment..?? I work with adults over the age of 18 but the event really opened my eyes to the daily challenges faced by younger students, and also how important it is for them to know where to go for support.

It was fantastic to hear that so many students are already volunteering and are looking for more opportunities to do this to give back to the community. 

Lisa Harding & Debbie Rees, Children & Adolescent Mental Health Services

Lisa Harding, Team Leader North Powys, and Debbie Rees, Support Worker – Children & Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS)

We felt the day was fantastic in relation to networking with other agencies, putting faces to names! So that we can communicate on a regular basis.

It was great to make contact with the young people of north Powys from the age of 16+. What we felt went well was the connection with the lecturers asking questions about the young people they support day-to-day in relation to their mental health, offering advice and support.

One of our service users came to see us while there, to say ‘thank you’ for all the help and support from CAMHS.

The day was positive and productive in nature.

Hazel Osborne, College Counselling Service, Newtown campus

Hazel Osborne, College Counselling Service, NPTC Newtown

It was great to see a presence of many local mental health services at this event.

Our students very much enjoyed the cake and engaged with the mood board. It felt an important chance to continue developing a normalisation of accessing these sorts of services and an opportunity for us to further deepen the students’ awareness of the counselling and support services available on site.

Danielle Lewis & Neil Rees, Detached Youth Work team, Powys County Council

Rosemary Denham, Student Services Manager, NPTC Group of Colleges

The day was really positive for our students. PAVO had invited the professional organisations, and our own Health and Social Care students decided to be involved as well. Having these young people taking part meant that it was easier for other students to engage in the event and speak with the outside organisations without feeling embarrassed. It was a very good mix.

Spin-offs included:

  • The Newtown Health & Social Care students gave an on-the-spot donation to Ponthafren – this was money that had been proffered for the lovely cakes which they had provided themselves and were giving away at no cost.
  • Our Enterprise Officer is running a project near to Christmas and the funds raised there will be given to a mental health charity.
  • Our college subject tutors had the opportunity to network with professionals working in the mental health field, and arrangements have been made for talks to be given by the organisations to specific student groups in the coming weeks. 
  • Our college counsellors were also able to discuss their work and referral pathways to outside agencies. 
  • Our student welfare staff re-established a working relationship with the Powys Teaching Health Board C-card organisers and ensured a renewed supply of condoms.
Sophie Jones, PCSO, Brecon Neighbourhood Policing team

Emojiis on a blank wall prompted students to comment on their feelings – 62% said they were happy, 8% were hungry – and 32% expressed negative emotions (including being stressed, anxious, tired, paranoid, depressed, worried) – this highlighted the need for the college to do all we can to help with mental health awareness.

PAVO offered the opportunity to work with our Health and Social Care students on volunteering, and also mentioned the possibility of a work placement in Llandrindod Wells.

I was invited to feed back on the day to Louisa Kerr from Powys Teaching Health Board, Vanessa Young from the NHS Confederation, PAVO and staff from mental health services in Mid Wales .It was a great opportunity to reinforce the need for improved mental health services for young people.

Thanks again to PAVO, I also attended the NHS Wales/Powys Teaching Health Board workshop in Builth Wells to contribute to the Powys Sexual Health Improvement Plan about services available / needed for our young people.

Louisa Kerr (PTHB), Vanessa Young (Welsh Confederation), Owen Griffkin (PAVO), Rosemary Denham (NPTC Group), Melanie Davies (PTHB), Lucy Taylor (PAVO), Jolene Duggan (PTHB)

Gateway/Foundation students at Brecon College

  • Good information given.
  • Excellent day.
  • Seeking awareness for students with mental health issues.
  • Excellent advice on the stalls.
  • Good advice given.
  • Fun.
  • Interesting.
  • Helpful advice.
  • Fun activities.
  • Informative.
Kemal Keeble from Rekindle chatting to some of the students in Newtown

Kemal Keeble, Recovery Practitioner, Small Steps Project, Rekindle

It was really great to be a part of the World Mental Health Day at NPTC. It opened the door to many conversations about “what positive mental health means to many of the students” and insight into the work we carry out at Rekindle’s The Small Steps Project. It was lovely to see so many young people getting involved and gaining a greater understanding about what services are available to them within the community they study and live in.

Suzanne Fairclough (R) and colleague from Sexual Health Services, Powys Teaching Health Board

Suzy Fairclough, Development Officer for Sexual Health & Support to Perinatal Mental Health, Powys Teaching Health Board

It was a pleasure to attend World Mental Health Day on the 10th October with information boards on Sexual Health Services and to have the opportunity to speak and hand out information to the young people on this subject and explain how Sexual Health links in with mental health, health and wellbeing. 

Abby Sims & Lorna Jones, Mid Powys Mind

Lorna Jones, Youth Worker, Mid Powys Mind

It was a good day with great networking and a privilege to meet young people who wish to make a difference with the outlook and positive attitude toward mental health. 

Lucy Taylor, Senior Officer Children & Young People, PAVO

Thank you to all the students and organisations that joined PAVO in making our World Mental Health Day celebrations with NPTC Colleges in Brecon and Newtown a success. It was so good to see everyone chatting about wellbeing, mental health and just how they were feeling that day. Our Emoji walls captured an image of “How are you feeling today?” 

We would be really pleased to know how you felt the day went and whether you would like to partner with PAVO on future events/ collaborative working? Comment in the box below, or contact us by emailing or ringing 01597 822191.