Published on: 25th July 2022

Layla and her grandad square.jpg

Layla, 9, from Rochdale used calming techniques she has learnt to cope with anxiety to help her grandad who has a brain condition.

She had previously received support at school from Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust’s young people’s mental health support team. The team are based in 38 schools around Rochdale, Heywood and Middleton and help young people experiencing low level emotional and behavioural difficulties, such as worry and low mood.

The support from Kate Thomas, education mental health practitioner, has been a big help to Layla in how she is feeling and her ability to manage anxiety.

In school, she would often freeze when the teacher asked her a question and wouldn't put her hand up for fear of being wrong. Kate and Layla worked together to focus on how her thoughts impacted her feelings and behaviours. Layla learnt some calming and grounding techniques to help reduce her heart rate and refocus her attention.

She decided to use her skills to help her grandad, a former boxer who was diagnosed with Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy.

Chelsea, Layla’s mum, explained:

“Layla’s grandad’s brain condition means he can get very agitated and usually the children give him a cuddle to make him feel more comfortable.

“One particular day my dad visited and was agitated. Layla had been doing a few sessions with Kate from the young people’s mental health support team and had learnt some coping exercises that had really been helping her.

“Layla said to my dad; ‘Grandad, why don't you try this? It helps me when I feel nervous.’ and she spread her fingers and counted slowly in-between her fingers, breathing in-between each finger and said to my dad ‘now you try it’.

“They sat there and she showed him what to do and he actually did it. It's amazing that she has taken what she has learnt from Kate in school and has shared it with someone else she knows it would help. 

“I'm so proud of her, not just for how she has overcome her own fears but for how she is using what she's learnt to help others too - especially her grandad.

“The pair of them have always had a special bond and she does get upset that grandad is poorly. She always says she wishes she could help, well that day she did help him. She's a little star who we love very much.”