Mental Health Awareness Week closed with a poignant remark on how we can help those living with mental illnesses. As allies, we must be adaptable in our approach to a crisis, and respond to what is needed in the moment.
We kicked off the week with our two Mental Health Reps, Lucy and James setting up two murals in Tommy’s Kitchen. The first was the creation of a semi colon from card pinned to a board, with interpretations of what mental health means to students written on them. Reading through the collage, it’s evident that mental health is viewed differently by everyone – messages such as “Acceptance of Sufferers”, and “Emotional Resilience”, it’s clear that there’s no one definition of mental health.
The second mural was simply a mirror. By the end of the campaign however, it was filled with positive messages related to what people liked about themselves. From “my smile” to “my kindness”, there was no shortage of positivity and self-love to be found on the mural, which serves as a reminder that even though we may view ourselves in a negative light sometimes, there will always be a glimmer of hope to be found in ourselves.
Midweek saw the launch of our Mental Health training programme. Run by VP Societies and Media, Holly Hughes, alongside SU staff, the training was a huge success amongst those who attended. Over the coming weeks and months, we’ll be rolling out the training to more individuals, especially student groups, who will be able to use the training to make clubs and societies at Royal Holloway more inclusive spaces for those who live with mental illness.
The week ended with the keystone event – Let’s Talk About Mental Health. Part panel discussion, part audience discussion, the event focused around why mental health awareness is so important. It was chaired by James Sullivan and Lucy Simpson, Mental Health Network Chair and Vice Chair respectively, as three students on the panel told the audience about their experiences with mental illness. What followed was a thoughtful and insightful discussion on the nature of mental health and illness – why it’s stigmatised or glorified, what we can do to support sufferers, and what the future of mental health activism looks like.
Mental health awareness has become a focal point in university liberation campaigns over the last few years – this is thanks to the hard and relentless work of activists across the country. This includes our own amazing Mental Health Reps, James and Lucy, who have been able to plan, organize and run an excellent week. Keep an eye out for future events run by the Mental Health Network, and make sure to follow them on Facebook for further updates.
If you’re interested in becoming an Equalities Rep, and are an international student or identify as LGBT, we’ll be electing reps for both of these demographics at our next Equalities Council! For more information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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