Christmas, Students & Deadlines

Christmas, Students & Deadlines

While many of us are getting ready to celebrate the festive season, most university students are currently travelling home. For some of the students this will be the first time celebrating the festive period whilst studying. Many students have been working tirelessly up until this week to meet their deadlines and revise for their exams. While you would expect students to stop over Christmas, many have deadlines and exams for January. Burnout and stress amongst students does increase over the Christmas period due to the constant pressure of studying.

Many students do consider dropping out of university during the January period for this reason. If you are currently feeling low over the Christmas period and are considering dropping out, try to exhaust all options before making that big decision.

You may feel a sense of panic and submit a piece of work while you are not in the right frame of mind. You should know that most universities have procedures in place and will support and guide you through this. Your university will have a wellbeing team that will be able to give you guidance specifically for your university and may offer mental health services.

During the summer period many universities offer a resubmission period, this is to prevent yourself having to resit a whole year. Some even offer a first attempt or for you to defer your work until the summer period. Ask your university about their policy on mitigating circumstances, your wellbeing team or student union will be able to advice you on your universities specific policy. Finally, talk to your course tutor/lecturers. They are there to help you and guide you through your course, they will give you the best advice on the work you may be worrying about. Sometimes all it takes is reassurance that you are doing it right to give you the confidence in your work.

We have contacted two university students to see what they have had to say on studying during the festive period.

Esmèe a third year Psychology student has said: “try not to burn yourself out, just remember for many university course 3rd year bares more weight. A lot of students will struggle to organise their studies in 3rd year if they have not already set a routine in 2nd year, so a routine is vital for your studies. Also remember to have some social time as you will feel you can never get that down time as its Christmas, then January deadlines, then easter deadlines and then summer when you finish. Finally, if you are in 1st year just remember your mark for this year does not go towards your overall degree.”

Jessica a second year paramedic science student has said: “I wish I would have done more over the summer break, they all said 2nd year would be a step up and it really has been. If you are feeling low seek some sort of help otherwise it will build up but remember if you are stressed about university it means that you care. If your course has personal  tutors reach out to them for advice, in my first year of university I shut down over Christmas and tried to enjoy my time with my family. This year I have realised it is a balance, I have prioritised and set a routine. You just need to find that balance and prioritise but don’t let it consume you.”

National Grief Awareness Week – Reflections of a Bereavement Counsellor

The witnessing of grief and why seeking counselling may help.

Grief is universal. Grief is messy. At some point in our lives we are all affected by the death and loss of a loved one. For some it may be sudden and unexpected, or for others we have some time to ‘prepare’ and try to shore ourselves up so that we hold together when the inevitable happens. It is my belief that however much we think we are ready, that we never really are; not fully – we cannot experience things by proxy. We are social beings who thrive on human connection with others. The interconnection and interdependence upon others is part and parcel of who we are and what makes our life meaningful. The loss of a loved one can feel devastating and overwhelming, affecting and changing our lives in profound ways.

Reasons to consider therapy:

A container for the feelings we cannot bear.

Loss can feel devastating, leaving us vulnerable, exposed, raw, numb, devoid of answers and in pain- both mentally and sometimes physically. At a time when there has been so much crisis and stress in our wider society, increasingly people are doing their best to get by. There is less time and space to support others when we are worrying about finances, work, health etc. This can leave a bereaved person feeling very isolated and alone. We can feel as though we don’t want to trouble others at a time when we most need to connect. We can feel as though we are too much and embarrassed to express how we really feel.  Within a therapeutic relationship there is space to be and express exactly how you feel, without judgement. All parts of you can be ‘held’ with acceptance and compassion.

You are not going mad.

In a bereavement session with a client this week, my client in relation to the death of her mother talked about having ‘lost my person; lost my anchor’. We can feel as though we are broken or falling apart. A bereavement counsellor can help you to understand that what you are experiencing is part of a grieving process. Having listened to many clients who have lost a loved one, my own conclusion is that there is no ‘one size fits all’ way to grieve. How we cope and move through a loss will depend upon many factors including our past losses and traumas, our personalities, support network, what we learned from our families about emotions for example. We can sometimes hold too rigidly to fixed ideas about stages of grief or how we ‘should be feeling by now’ that hinder and compound our grief.

Counselling can help when a loss has been traumatic in nature

Sadly, death can be additionally traumatic when it has been caused by a sudden accident, we may have witnessed a painful death, or we may have lost a loved one through suicide. Specific kinds of therapy may be helpful in these circumstances. Your counsellor will be able to advise and discuss this with you. There may be times when you experience symptoms like panic attacks or heightened anxiety or feelings of depression and struggle to function in your day-to-day life. Your counsellor will be able to guide you and discuss whether additional help or services are required in these circumstances.

Your grief needs to be witnessed.

We all of us need to be heard and understood. Part of healing is having someone to walk alongside you and understand what your loss means to you. A good therapist will also be someone who holds onto the hope when you feel stuck in despair; the person who knows that things will change, however slowly and painfully.

If you would like to find out more about the support we can offer please get in touch by emailing or or call on 0161 445 2099 or 01904 412551.

Challenging the stigma around Neurodiversity this Anti-Bullying Week

What is neurodiversity?

Neurodiversity refers to the different ways the brain interprets information. We are hopeful that more and more people will begin to welcome neurodiverse differences and strengths, rather than the stories that we sometimes hear about individuals being targeted for their differences through bullying behaviour.


Challenging the neurodiversity stigma

Instead of isolating people (often because neurotypical brains are the ones that people seem to be most aware of and used to), a focus needs to be on inclusion, understanding and valuing neurodiversity. We are all different and unique in our own ways and the brain develops in different ways; we are all equally important, and we celebrate difference because we believe that difference makes the world an interesting and better place. We need people who think differently; certain changes would never happen otherwise.


What do we do at CYPNS?

At The Retreat Clinics, we also have a Children and Young People’s Neurodevelopmental Service (CYPNS), which mostly works with autistic children and young people, and their families.

At CYPNS, we champion neurodiversity, spreading awareness and understanding of difference and encourage all to embrace it. As a team, we are focussed on improving our approach to assessment, support, and report writing as new information and ways of thinking arise. We are currently talking about the importance of neurodiversity-affirmative language and the importance of noticing strengths in all opportunities. Increasing awareness and understanding of neurodiversity is crucial to support the creation of anti-bullying environments.


How can we help?

Here at The Retreat Clinics, we can support your child and your family to make sense of an Autism diagnosis, from assessments to therapeutic support. Our Autism Assessment and Diagnostic Services and our Specialist Therapy services are available at our clinic in York and online.

Find out more here or get in touch by emailing

What to do as a parent when your child is suffering from bullying

We understand that it is never pleasant to think about your child or young person being involved in bullying, whether it be as the bully, victim or witness, but it is such an important topic to address.

What can I do?

The first thing to do is to talk to your child or young person. Explain to them what the signs of bullying are and explain you have noticed a change within them. Reassure them that you are there for them to talk when they are ready to do so.

If your child opens up to you, it is important to listen to your child calmly, offering support and comfort, as most children and young people may feel anxious, embarrassed or upset. If your child does not want to talk to you about bullying, then it is best to suggest that while you are there for them, they can also open up to another trusted adult and encourage them to do so.

For most children and young people, bullying happens within school. If this is the case for your child, you should contact the school to start a conversation about your concerns with their teacher, head of year or pastoral manager. Most schools have an anti-bullying policy and will not tolerate even the smallest cases of bullying; therefore, it should be picked up fairly quickly.

Even if it seemed to be a one-off incident, it is always best to inform the school especially if it was in relation to a protected characteristic. This may be because of a school-wide cultural issue that might need addressing. If your child is being bullied in relation to a protected characteristic then this is a hate crime, and therefore is against the law. You can report this to the police by phone on 101 or online.

If the bullying is happening online through social media or gaming, you are able to report this to the platforms as most have rules centred around online bullying. You can also report bullying videos that are shared online and request for them to be taken down.

How we can help

If you believe your child or young person is struggling with their mental health due to the bullying that is taking place, or their changes in behaviour do not ease through talking to them and exploring ways to help manage them together, then it may be time to seek professional help for your child. This also applies if your child or teenager themselves is a bully, as they may need support to resolve what is triggering this behaviour.

Here, at The Retreat Clinics, we understand seeking therapy can be daunting for both you and your child and that taking the first step can be hard. We have a team of professional and friendly child therapists who can work together with you and your child to design a bespoke and flexible treatment which works best for them. We have a range of children’s therapy services which are available for children and teenagers aged 4 to 17 at our clinics in York, Manchester and online.

If you would like to find out more about the support we can offer please get in touch by emailing

How to spot the signs of bullying

Bullying amongst children is a common issue within schools, outside of school and online, and of 2,347 young people (12-20 years) surveyed within the UK in 2019, 22% had been bullied, 27% had witnessed bullying and 2% admitted to being a bully.

It can be experienced both verbally or physically and take place at any age. Some children or young people might be bullying themselves, and this is often a result of their own unresolved, personal issues, which makes them choose to lash out at others.

Signs of bullying

Unless your child or teenager directly speaks to you about being bullied or has physical injuries or bruises, it can be hard to know it is going on. You may notice some changes in your child or teenager’s behaviour, which can be an indication that they are being bullied, such as:

There can be a few common indicators that your child or young person may be the one bullying others, for example if they:

Effects of bullying

It is never pleasant to think about your child being bullied, or worse, being a bully, but it’s important to be aware of the warning signs to try and help prevent both the short and long-term effects of bullying.

Bullying can increase the prevalence of mental health issues within children, with depression, anxiety and self-harm often continuing into adulthood. It can cause disruptions to learning, impacting their academic attainment which can have knock-on effects for future employment. The emotional impact of bullying can make it difficult to maintain stable relationships and might make your child or young person more likely to commit or be a victim of domestic abuse as an adult.

Online Bullying

Online bullying is often referred to as cyberbullying, whilst this type of bullying is online and therefore not physical, it may develop into in-person bullying, that can become physical. Signs of cyberbullying are the same as physical bullying however there are a few more that are specific to cyberbullying. Your child who may be a victim of online bullying, may stop using their device unexpectedly, become nervous or jumpy when using their device and have an increase in anger or upset after using their devices.

How we can help

If you are worried about your child or young person being bullied, then it may be time to seek professional help. This also applies if your child or teenager themselves is a bully and needs to resolve what is triggering this behaviour.

We understand seeking therapy can be daunting for both you and your child and that taking the first step can be hard. We have a team of professional and friendly child therapists who can work together with you and your child to design a bespoke and flexible treatment which works best for them. Our children’s therapy services are available for children and teenagers aged 5 to 17, at our clinics in York, Manchester and online.

Please get in touch by emailing

Movember and Men’s Mental Health

Life isn’t always easy, and it can often feel hard to open up about how you’re feeling and reach out for support – particularly as a man. But even when things seem tough, there’s a lot you can do to look after yourself and others.


This month is Movember, an annual event run by the Movember Foundation which  involves the growing of moustaches during the month of November to raise awareness of men’s health issues, and much more.


Who are the Movember Foundation?

As the leading charity in men’s health, the Movember Foundation have funded more than 1,250 projects across 23 countries, working towards a world where men take action to be mentally well and feel supported by those around them.

Their mental health and suicide prevention projects have been challenging the status quo, strengthening social connections and encouraging men to have conversations that matter.


What is Movember?

Movember is a global annual movement which encourages men to engage in their fundraisers during the month of November to raise awareness of men’s mental health and suicide prevention, prostate cancer and testicular cancer.


What can I do to get involved?

This November, you can help raise funds and awareness of men’s health by signing up to their Movember Fundraisers:


What if I’m a woman?

While growing a moustache is left to the guys, women can also raise funds and awareness by signing up to all the other fundraiser campaigns or make donation to a ‘Mo Bro’ or fellow ‘Mo Sister’. As champions of the movement women can play a key role by rallying the men in their lives to join the movement, have important conversations and be proactive about their health.


Find out more

For reliable, expert information to help men cope and live happier, healthier, longer lives and to accelerate change by supporting the Movember campaign visit:


This month we will be helping to raise awareness about men’s mental health, and how important it is to talk about.

If you are struggling, or simply need someone to turn to, please get in touch by emailing or

Our Top Tips for managing Bonfire Night

For lots of families with children, Bonfire Night can bring anxiety and distress. Firework displays are noisy, unpredictable and, depending on where you live, can be relentless. This can be particularly tricky if you have a child who has a fear of fireworks, is neurodiverse, and/or has sensory differences.

Our team of child and young people therapists, in collaboration with families we work with, have put together some top tips for managing the Bonfire Celebrations.

If going to fireworks displays isn’t right for your family, trust your instincts. You can create your own traditions for Bonfire night. Perhaps you could watch a movie or do another favourite activity that will help distract from the noise outside. Maybe there is a playlist of music that is particularly calming for your child.

Explain to your child about the origin of Bonfire night, and safety around fireworks and bonfires. For some children, their anxiety is due to being worried about getting hurt or not understanding what is happening. There are lots of story books or information leaflets available that can support you to explain this in a child friendly way. For example; your local fire and rescue service website. Some people like to watch YouTube videos of firework displays to help prepare their child for what is going to happen. If you have a pet, consider including your child in helping the animal for Bonfire night. This could provide a great good opportunity to open conversations about anxiety or fear in a non-direct way and validate their experience.

Staying in or going out, involve your child/ren in creating a plan for the evening, encourage them to think about what they might be worried about, and what might help support them. If you are going to an event, try to find out as much information beforehand as possible to help inform your plan and consider in advance what your exit plan might be if things get too overwhelming.

Writing your plan out or use of a visual schedule is really helpful to help manage expectations and hopefully reduce anxiety.

Regardless of your plans, considering bringing objects that your child finds soothing, familiar or reduces anxiety. For example, certain items of clothing, weighted blankets, fidget toys or a comfort blanket can be helpful. Sometimes certain foods or drinks might bring a bit of extra comfort. For some families, just sticking to familiar routine as much as possible is the best way to reduce anxiety.

For children who find loud noises difficult, you might want to consider giving your child ear defenders. Ear defenders help to reduce noise, but you can still hear some noise, which can be helpful and reassuring. You could also consider noise cancelling headphones to play a soothing song or favourite audio book. Whatever headphones might work best for your child, it would be worth allowing your child to wear them ahead of Bonfire night so that they can get used to wearing them.

Do not under-estimate the importance of how reassuring it is to young people when you remain calm. The relationship you have with your child, and your presence will help them feel safe by just being close, relaxed, and present. You know your child best, and what will help provide them with additional reassurance.

If this is a tricky time for you family, it can be really tiring supporting and containing your child’s distress. If possible, get some additional support and integrate something into the day that will help recharge your batteries.


If you would like to find out more about the support we can offer please get in touch by emailing or