The first step has been taken: you or someone you care about have recognised that help is needed. That’s a fantastic start. 

What next? There are lots of options available, depending on your situation and circumstances.  How do we decide what’s best for us, and how do we get the support we need? 

First of all, here is a link to a great positive resource; Happiful Magazine. 


Community support and self-help:  

Helping ourselves 

There are lots of ways that we can support our own mental health and wellbeing. For a place to start check out our 10 ways to support your wellbeing. You can also take this quiz to see where you’re at and what activities might help you. 

Remember, if you are struggling you can always seek support. Here’s a list of resources.

Helping others 

We all need help from time to time, and being able to help others can help us to feel better too. However, it’s important to remember that helping yourself before helping others is a good place to start.  

When helping others, focus on listening to people before giving answers, as sometimes this might be  what the person needs. It can also be a good idea to check in on someone on a regular basis and ask what they might need.   

If someone needs more support than you can give them, you can guide them to services that can help while also being there to support when needed. You could even create a resource pack so they have something they can use whenever they need.  

Peer support – what is it and what are the benefits? 

Peer support is when people use their own experiences and learnings to help each other.

Peer support can help to build confidence, to feel more comfortable and to connect you with people who have experienced similar challenges. Peer support allows people to feel supported by someone  from their own age group who understands them, and it also creates a supportive environment of encouragement and motivation.   

Peer mentors benefit, too – they can feel a sense of achievement and fulfilment from giving help when needed. It allows people to ‘give back’ and enhance the skills that they have learnt.      

 Third sector organisations  and their role  

The third sector, which includes charities, social enterprises, and voluntary groups, delivers essential services and helps people with their wellbeing. It plays a vital role in supporting communities at a local level.  

In general , third sector organisations typically work within local communities to support the members of those communities.  

We  encourage young people to seek support from the third sector if the support is right for them at the time, but to also research local charities in their areas as often these provide a less clinical and more social approach to mental health and wellbeing.  

Check out some other third sector organisation in Wales here: 

Waiting for support – what to do while on the waiting list 

 We know that being on a waiting list for help is difficult. Waiting times for services can vary, and this can be tough, especially when you have been brave and reached out for that support.  

Although waiting times are out  of our control, there are things we can do in the meantime to work on our wellbeing until the support we need begins. 

Our recommendation would be to use self-help tools to learn about what things you can be doing now to try and work through the way you are feeling. These things are simple life changes, such as practicing a little mindfulness when you feel anxious, making sure you are getting enough sleep, and keeping yourself organised and focused on positive tasks. All of these small changes will slowly start to change the way you are feeling, and also get you feeling a little more motivated to start support when the time comes.  

Why not try out our self-directed learning experience online called Project Me? Here you can complete our full 10-week wellbeing programme in your own time, at your own pace and in the comfort of your own home. This will give you some ideas on how you can use different tools to change the way you are feeling. 

What if the support doesn’t help very much? 

Sometimes we want mental health services to ‘fix’ everything for us, but the truth is   it’s not always that simple, and change can take time.

Overall mental health services have good intentions, but things don’t always work out the way we plan. This is because we’re all different, and so support that works for one person might not work for another. It’s always a good idea to plan something nice after a mental health appointment, like a coffee with a friend or a nice walk.

Some tips to consider while you’re getting support: 

  • Manage your expectations. What is the minimum I want to get from this appointment? What do I want to happen? What do I want from the future?  
  • Communication. A lot of the time, staff don’t realise we don’t feel supported enough. It’s a good idea to share with them at the start of the appointment what you want or need, or mention at the end if they’ve said anything that has worried you.  
  • Ask about your pathway. It can be easier to accept that you’re not receiving the right care right now when you know the plan is to move onto something more appropriate. “I’m not finding the support helpful right now, what is my care plan? What can I expect from future treatment?”  
  • Use help from multiple services and friends. For example, one our trainers used SHOUT when they felt l onely, Meic for information, and Platfform to get involved with projects and help themselves feel better .  
  • Don’t give up! It can sometimes take time to find the right support so please don’t feel disheartened if the first option isn’t the exact right fit. For example, some people like to try a few counsellors before finding the right match, this can be the same with any service you come into contact with. If something doesn’t work for you, be sure to speak to your support network and research your next options.    

What I do when support doesn’t work out:  thoughts from a young person 

  • Share experiences. It helps me to know that other people have also experienced the same things I’m going through. I can sometimes be mean to myself, so that when I don’t get the support, I need my brain tells me that it’s what I ‘deserve.’ But when I hear that other people have been disappointed with services, I feel passionate to campaign for change, confident enough to spread awareness, and encouraged to find support that will work for me. 
  • Speak up. Don’t be afraid to ask services for more support if needed, or to ‘chase up’ responses if you feel able. I’ve been lucky enough to have friends do this for me, and over time I’ve built the courage to do it myself. You do deserve support, and it’s the role of services to provide that support. If you need to, research who to speak to in the service that will listen to your feedback, and if there has been a significant problem then it’s OK to make a complaint. 
  • If you don’t feel confident in doing these things, speak to someone who you feel safe with, and talk about what has happened and how it’s made you feel. You could also ask that person not to interrupt you for a little while so you can think freely, and then talk about what’s happened with your thoughts fresh in your mind. 
  • Help yourself make sense of the situation. Write down all of your reasons for feeling disappointed. Then reflect on those points and how they’ve made you feel – think about what could be different and what you think should have been done. This can be a good starting point when planning what to do next.  
  • If you’re feeling angry, writing it all down in a private notebook and then ripping it up can help you feel a bit better before you plan, so that you can approach conversations in a calm mindset. 

Advocacy support: 

If you feel that the support that is offered to you there may be advocacy services that might be able to help? 

The National Youth Advocacy Service:  Home | NYAS | National Youth Advocacy Service


Professionals, abbreviations and acronyms – what does it all mean? 

There are a lot of terms, phrases and acronyms that are used when talking about mental health, and it can get really confusing, even if you work in that field.  

Here are some examples of jargon you might hear. This isn’t a complete list, so if you come across one that’s not included here and you’d like to know more, drop us a line on social media and we’ll see what we can find out. 

Common acronyms used: 

MDT (Multi-Disciplinary Team) a group of professionals who may be involved in decisions about your care and treatment. You can request to be present at their meetings, or ask for an advocate or other professionals to be involved on your behalf. 

MHA (Mental Health Act) – the legal document that covers the care and treatment of people with mental health needs. It is the main guide for treatment and hospitalisation decisions.  

MCA (Mental Capacity Act) – the legal documents that guide decisions whether someone (over the age of 16) is considered to be in a fit enough mental state to make safe decisions. If not, this may mean appointing someone else to make decisions on their behalf. 

CTP (Care & Treatment Plan) – a plan agreed by everyone involved (for example the MDT) regarding your treatment, care and support. You have a right to have a say on this, and to see the plan. Sometimes there will be CTP Meetings to out one of these plans together, or make changes to it. You have a right to be involved in these, too. 

Primary, Secondary and Tertiary health services – Primary is GP and associated support. Secondary covers specialist services where a referral from the GP is necessary, and you go to regular appointments and have specialist professionals supporting you. Tertiary involves hospital admissions and in-patient support. 

CAMHS (Child & Adolescent Mental Health Service) the secondary mental health service that looks after children and young people under 18 years of age. 

CMHT (Community Mental Health Team) – the secondary mental health services that look after anyone over 18.  

Different professionals involved in mental health: 

CPN (Community Psychiatric Nurse)  a nurse with mental health training who works in the community, usually with CAMHS and/or CMHTs.  

HCA (Health Care Assistant) someone who is not yet a nurse but will work under a nurse’s supervision to provide support and treatment, including in hospitals. 

Psychologist someone who has studied psychology and therapy, and who will look at someone’s upbringing and current situation to try and help make sense of where different emotions and behaviours may have come from. This is called a ‘formulation’.  

Psychiatrist someone who has studied medicine and psychology. They will consider brain chemistry and brain development and how these affect emotions, and will to try to find medical treatments that may help.  

Social worker – someone who has studied social work and has trained in one specific field, such as children, learning disabilities, mental health and other related areas. They work for the council, namely social services, so aren’t part of the NHS but usually work very closely alongside health professionals.  

OT (occupational therapist) a health professional who supports people to adjust their home or work life to your needs. For physical disabilities, that could mean special equipment such as a wheelchair. For mental health, that could mean creating routines and finding coping strategies.  

SALT/SLT (speech and language therapy/ therapist) i.e., someone who specialises in how we learn, develop and refine our use of language, which might be affected by our childhood, emotions, or neurodiversity. They can help put together information that will help others to better understand the way someone communicates, or find ways to help that person communicate more clearly. 

AMHP (approved mental health professional) someone who has completed specialist training and is now approved by NHS and the Local Authority to assess whether someone experiencing mental health challenges will be hospitalised.  

NYAS/ IMHA (National Youth Advocacy Service/Independent Mental Health Advocate) – professionals with training in the legal framework of the mental health system, who are there to represent you. They advocate on your behalf and ensure your wishes are taken into account when decisions about your treatment and care are being made.  

Common buzzwords in mental health 

Restorative approaches: 

Restorative approaches focus on separating behaviours from people, and allowing honest and useful conversations to happen in situations where one person has done harm to another. Rather than simple punishment, the idea is to help people learn and grow, making the same situation less likely to happen again and helping both sides to move on. 

We, as humans, heal through connection and many of us learn and empathise through hearing each other’s stories and their meaning, rather than through an account of rules. Restorative approaches are about having conversations to understand the harm or hurt that has taken place, empathising with people’s experiences and working to move forward. 

In everyday life, this approach can take the form of healthy boundaries in relationships, good communication, and learning what a meaningful apology is. 

Brene Brown discusses some of this in an episode of her podcast, where she talks with Glennon Doyle, author of the book Untamed.