Mental health has been a prominent topic in higher education for several years now, and as a Union we are committed to improving the welfare of our students. To do this, we recently sent eight of our staff team, including your VP Welfare and Diversity, Willow Wong, and VP Societies and Media, Holly Hughes, on a Mental Health First Aid training course. All eight of them are now officially qualified, to deliver this crucial service to our students.
Covering a vast range of topics, the training was an intensive two day course delivered by Mental Health First Aid England (MHFAE). The course featured numerous different elements, from detailing the symptoms of mental illnesses, to how to deal with crises situations, and how the training can be implemented in wider scenarios.
A challenging, but worthwhile two days, without question, as Willow explains: “It’s really important to engage more people in an open dialogue about the diversity of mental health experiences, especially in different cultures and religions. Many of us have personal experiences with mental health and have seen how it can impact our closest friends and family members.
"Although we cannot help solve people's mental health struggles, I learned from the training course that we can become active listeners to what they're going through and by doing so, make them feel less alone in their journey to recovery.”
On the back of this training, we’ll be launching a brand new scheme to help our student groups deal with mental health issues. Willow and Holly will be delivering a condensed version of this training to student group committees in order to ensure that this information is disseminated through as many individuals as possible.
Clubs and societies are often where the strongest support networks are built – but we need to make sure that those networks are equipped with the right tools to look after their members. If you’re part of a student group committee and are interested in getting involved, keep an eye out for a post on Holly’s Facebook page. This will tie in as part of Mental Health Awareness Week (8 – 12 October), our annual campaign to promote awareness of mental health and to tackle some of the underlying issues surrounding mental health, illness, and treatment.
Reflecting on the training, Holly commented: “It is so pivotal that we start to open up wider discussion about mental health, and the impact it can have on us, our friends and family, and our social, or academic pursuits at a much younger age, and to a much fuller extent than we do already.
"We should not aim to ‘problem solve’ when it comes to mental health, but rather we should actively listen to what people are going through, encourage those affected to seek out support networks, and support them on their journey to recovery. Recovery is different for everyone, and everyone has different goals, and as a society we should encourage everyone to progress at their own pace.”
This is a massively important step forward in supporting you through difficult periods. We hope that this training, and projects leading on from it, will help to look after your wellbeing in a way that is genuinely meaningful.
For further support and guidance, make sure to read our article on looking after your mental health at university.
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