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Thumbs up for family wellbeing course

Young people and their parents and carers have described a family wellbeing course as ‘comforting and reassuring’ during difficult times.

The Families 2gether 4 Wellbeing course, run by wellbeing charity Valleys Steps, is a free course designed for young people, aged 14-18, accompanied by their parent or carer.

Developed last year through a partnership with Cwm Taf Morgannwg’s Taff Ely Primary Care Cluster, the course aims to provide a range of ideas and practical steps to improve mental health and wellbeing. Practical techniques such as mindfulness and stress management are taught over six weeks by a Valleys Steps practitioner.

The course was developed after GPs in the Taff Ely Primary Care Cluster noticed an increase in the numbers of young people coming to them with anxiety, stress and finding they were unable to cope with some everyday situations. Valleys Steps was asked to develop a course that would meet the needs of teenagers and developed the course with input from pupils and staff at local schools in the area.

Dr Ian Morris, a GP at Old School Surgery in Pontyclun, said: “Mental health and wellbeing are such important areas to address in the modern world. Work, school, exams and the everyday stresses and strains of being a teenager can impact on family life and we increasingly see evidence of this in our surgeries. As a cluster we asked Valleys Steps to develop a family project to promote wellbeing for young people and the result is this fantastic course that is already helping families in the Taff Ely area.”

Initially developed as eight face-to-face sessions, the course was adapted to six sessions, delivered online, due to the pandemic.

Despite the changes,  the course has been given a 100% approval rate by the families who have taken part,  with every participant saying they would recommend the course to other families.  One parent who attended with their teenager said: “I really found this course helpful. It was really positive to participate with my teenage daughter as a team. My daughter and I both took a lot of good tips and advice from the course. It was also comforting to see other parents in similar situations.”

Research suggests that over time mindfulness brings about long term changes in mood and levels of happiness. Mindfulness can help prevent or reduce depression and can help when stress and anxiety issues arise.

Clare McRobbie, Wellbeing Course Practitioner for Valleys Steps and a former teacher, developed and delivered the course. She said:

“The Mindfulness and Wellbeing course was developed for parents and young people to learn together in a way that felt invitational and gently encouraged them to use the mindfulness and stress reduction techniques, taught in the weekly sessions to reduce stress and anxiety.

“I really enjoyed teaching this course and felt that the group grew in confidence each week in a safe and nurturing environment with lots of different learning activities to keep young people and their parents engaged.  I look forward to our next course starting.”

The next course, starting on September 17, is now open for registration. The course is free for young people aged 14 to 18 and their parent or carer. Participants must live in the Taff Ely area of RCT or be registered with a Taff Ely GP practice.

Please contact Valleys Steps on info@valleyssteps.org or call 01443 803048 to register or for further information.

For further information on health and wellbeing services and other cluster initiatives in the Taff Ely area visit www.taffelycluster.com