The 1 March marks an important day for Higher Education: University World Mental Health Day. And this year, the theme is community. It’s an interesting choice on the charity’s part – with so many pressing issues closing in on students, is community necessarily the best focus for such an important date?
But if we take a step back, perhaps it’s more appropriate than it first seemed. Because ultimately the focus this year is not on an issue, but on a solution, which in itself is a pretty positive thing to see. So why community?
Universities across the country are wonderfully diverse and filled with people from a huge variety of backgrounds, and Royal Holloway is no different.
The community we form here is based on a whole range of things – be it our academic interests, our hobbies, sports teams, or anything else, it’s clear that we’re all connected. We may come here to get degrees but, as soppy as it sounds, we leave with so much more.
It’s obvious that community is what helps us to maintain out mental health. Support networks are an incredibly important part of recovery for most, and university often becomes a place where those support networks are built.
A community can range from anything from your seminar class to your talking therapies group, but it certainly doesn’t have to be a medically sanctioned body for it to help your mental health. A good group of friends chatting in a living room is a great way to help maintain good mental health.
It’s equally important to acknowledge the contemporary political climate – with division being an essential part of our lives.
It’s important to embrace our communities in these difficult times, to find solidarity among those who share our experiences, but also to remember the importance of embracing those on the outside.
To show kindness and empathy to those who may need it most, whilst making it clear to those who need defending that intolerance will be shown the door. This is how we create communities. This is how we foster good mental health – by being active allies, and by trusting one another.
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The Students’ Union, Royal Holloway
Egham, TW20 0EX