Your Health

In association with Sligo Today

Learn the skills to get on top of stress

Added: 12/02/15 : 07:54:12

The HSE continues to roll out the highly regarded Stress Control programme in Sligo and Leitrim with the next programme starting on Wednesday the 18th February in Sligo IT at 6pm. Stress affects people from all walks of life. Although no two people will have exactly the same problems, we all have a lot in common when we are feeling stressed. We can find it hard to relax, we can worry a great deal, we can lose confidence and a sense of control and get despondent.

Whilst it’s normal to have a certain degree of stress in our lives, for many of us the stress has become too much, whatever we do we can’t seem to get on top of it. When stress is running our lives there are inevitable and often serious consequences – our health may begin to deteriorate as our immune system becomes compromised by stress hormones continually flooding our body, physical tension becomes the new normal and we no longer know how to relax or even what being relaxed feels like.

 Our relationships at home or at work may suffer as we become more snappy and irritable, our thinking becomes less clear, more confused and consequently we may make poor decisions in our day to day affairs.

 We may find ourselves with high levels of anxiety or depression that we can’t seem to shift. All of these consequences develop into vicious circles in our lives, we get stressed during the day, we find we can’t sleep because of worrying and then we are exhausted the next day and even more prone to getting stressed by the slightest things and so on…worse we may start using alcohol to help us sleep.

Sadly for many of us these consequences are becoming all too common.
Research in the UK found that almost 90% of all visits to GP’s were stress-related, so if you are suffering from stress you are clearly ‘not alone’, most people are struggling to cope with stress in their lives.

The research is telling us that 25% of the population is suffering from sub-clinical stress – that’s mild to moderate levels of anxiety or depression, and this is having consequences on their health, 9% of these people are more likely to die from cancer, 25% are more likely to die from cardiovascular disease and for most there will be increases in smoking, alcohol consumption and weight gain.

As a country we spend literally millions of Euros every year on prescriptions for drugs to treat depression, anxiety and lack of sleep. Wouldn’t it be great if we could learn to stop stress in it’s tracks, learn how to recognise the symptoms of stress in our lives, understand how it affects us and most importantly the simple things we can do right now to get our lives back together and away from stress.

Stress control is a free six session programme. Each session lasts for 90 minutes and is delivered once a week. ‘Stress Control’ was devised by Dr.Jim White, a clinical psychologist in Glasgow to help the large number of people who complained of stress and who were keen to learn how to tackle their problems themselves. Through research, this evidence-based course has been improved over the years and Stress Control is now available in many different countries.

People who come to Stress Control come to learn simple strategies for alleviating stress, and the course is delivered in a ‘chalk and talk’ format so that people do not need to interact, this makes it less stressful for participants, there are no embarrassing exercises, just simple information explained in such a way that people learn over the course how to become their own therapists. Handouts are given for each session, and people practice the exercises between sessions.

‘I was off work due to stress, when this course started. Thanks to the tips I have been able to ‘face my fears’ and return to work.’  (Previous participant).

‘The taught programme was a ‘gift’. Knowing I could attend and just spend my time just focusing on listening’. (Previous participant.)

The Stress Control courses are delivered by the Stress Control team led by Dr. Mark O’Callaghan, and Maire Armstrong HSE Principal Psychologists, Mike Rainsford HSE Mental Health Promotion Specialist and Dr Alan Gregory Senior Education Psychologist.

‘The fact is we all live in stressful times. Understanding how stress can impact on our lives and learning what we can do about it is key to strengthening our resilience and ability to cope. Again and again this programme has helped many people to get their lives back on track. Our future plans are in  developing a version of this programme for young people as well as creating an online version for people who may be unable to travel, both with approval from Dr. Jim White.’  -Mike Rainsford HSE.

For more information on Stress Control or to pre book a place on the course please contact: Thomas McBride, HSE Health Promotion on: 071 91 35041  or e-mail:

If stress is concerning you or someone you know it’s important to talk to your GP to get help and advice.

Calls to Teen-Line jump by 49%

Added: 24/02/15 : 07:14:33

A record number of almost 20,000 calls were made to Teen-Line, Ireland’s only dedicated teenage helpline. This is a 49% increase on the number of calls received in 2013. Teen-Line also established a mobile phone texting service in November 2014 and almost 1,000 texts were received in the 6 weeks the service was open last year.

“Our helpline received 19,036 calls last year, this is the highest number of calls in a single year we have received since we opened the service in 2006,” said Bronagh Logan, Manager of Teen-Line Ireland. “Last year also saw the highest number of new callers contacting the helpline, this is a positive development as it shows that awareness of the service is increasing calls and teenagers are picking up the phone to talk to us,” she said. “We are delighted to have the mobile phone texting service up and running. This was our big aim for 2014 and we’re thrilled to offer this option to teenagers who may find talking difficult. Teenagers can access the text service by texting TEEN to 50015,” said Ms. Logan.

Continuing the trend from last year there were three times the number of female callers to male callers in 2014. The most prevalent motivation for teenager to contact the helpline was simply to talk to someone; second most common reason to call was loneliness and followed by relationship issues in third place.

“We have definitely seen a correlation between our Schools Programme and the increase in calls and new callers to the helpline. June had the highest call volume followed by April and anecdotal evidence would suggest that the stress of state exams and mock exams contributed to our lines being so busy,” said Ms. Logan.

Teen-Line provides a national, non-directive, free telephone helpline and a mobile phone texting service for teenagers who may be feeling alone, worried or distressed. The helpline and text service is open seven days a week from 8pm to 11pm with an extended service from 4pm to 11pm every Wednesday to cater to the many second level school half-days. The service is run by volunteers who understand that young people need to be heard, they make no judgments and want to listen.