In January this year, Kirklees College became the first college to host a Mental Wealth Group. In just the few months since, Kirklees College Minds Committee have been busy planning events and ran a particularly successful mental health awareness event on campus. At the event, KCMC’s group leader, Sophie Mitchell, bravely had her head shaved, to raise money for mental health charity Rethink. She has raised over £750! We caught up with Sophie to find out how things have been going;
“I have really enjoyed leading KCMC so far, I’m so happy that we’ve managed to set up a committee to try and help raise awareness of mental health and help students at college. I’m also really glad to have found some students that are also passionate about raising awareness and helping others - it’s very inspiring. I think that our awareness event was very successful, lots of people attended and we had lots of resources and raised lots of money for charity too! It also was featured in the local paper which I hope will raise awareness of our committee as well as of mental health, which is our main purpose. I hope that we’ll be able to make KCMC bigger and better in the future.”
If you are interested in forming your own group at either a university or a college please contact our Development Officer, Rosie: r.tressler[at]mentalwealthuk.com
We caught up with Rachel Staniforth, the group leader of Sheffield Hallam’s Mental Wealth Group, ‘Hallam Head Space’. Here she tells us about various achievements over the past year from campaigning about exam stress to fostering a joined up approach to wellbeing promotion on campus and in the local community.
“Hallam Head Space is affiliated to Mental Wealth UK, a charity committed to promoting positive wellbeing on university campuses. The group was launched in January 2012 and is fully student-led. Head Space have aimed to “Break the Silence” on mental health issues among students and so far, we appear to be succeeding. We have run a variety of events with the aim of providing an outlet for students to talk to others in similar situations, get involved in various activities and ultimately – to tackle stress. We have developed a ‘Survival Guide’ containing advice on: eating well, exercising, budgeting and seeking help and we frequently give away revision materials, including: pens, notebooks and bottled water. Recently we have hosted a petting zoo at both campuses in order to provide students with a break from exam stresses.
Hallam Head Space has also been dedicated to breaking down the barriers between students and the wider community. We started by tackling the barrier between students and university services. Since January 2012, we have run events in conjunction with Student Wellbeing, developed relationships with the Careers and Employment Service, and made contacts within the Development and Society department.
Take a Study Break: Let’s Get Physical!
It’s a busy time of year for students, with summer exams and coursework deadlines fast approaching. You might feel like all you have time to think about is essay plans and post-its, but it’s absolutely crucial that you also take time to look after your mental health and unwind.
Over the next seven days, the Mental Health Foundation (MHF) are coordinating their Mental Health Awareness Week, and this year the theme is ‘Let’s Get Physical’. The campaign aims to get us thinking positively about exercise, as something we want to do for our wellbeing and happiness rather than just as something we think ‘we ought to do’.
So, why not make your study breaks more interactive, and try some different exercise this week? It’s a great stress release after a long day in the library and a fun way to take part in Mental Health Awareness Week. Check your Students’ Union and University websites to see if there are any exercise classes you can attend this week. If you have a Yoga society join in on their beginners session, or go for a jog around campus with your housemate. Whatever you do, enjoy yourself - see Phoebe’s running technique in ‘Friends’ for inspiration!
For more information about Mental Health Awareness Week visit: http://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/our-work/mentalhealthawarenessweek/get-involved/?view=Standard
You can also read about how physical activity has helped other people manage their mental health here: https://www.facebook.com/mentalhealthawarenessweek
To support you through the exam season Mental Wealth UK have put together our Recipe for Stress Free Exams here: http://www.mentalwealthuk.com/files/u1/recipe_for_stress-free_exams_final_0.pdf
Further information about the relationship between physical activity and mental health can be found on the Royal College of Psychiatrists website here: http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/expertadvice/treatmentswellbeing/physicalactivity.aspx
Interested in campaigning about mental health and wellbeing at your university or college? Mental Wealth UK support 30 student-led mental health campaigns groups at universities across the UK. Find out whether your university hosts a group Here or email us to express your interest in launching a new group where you are: home[at]mentalwealthuk.com
(Source: delightful-stateofmind, via turning-day-dreams-into-reality)
A new documentary, produced by students at Nottingham University Television Station (NUTS), is set to tackle mental health in an all new way.
By talking to practitioners, students and the general public, ‘Mental: My Take’ will focus on the unique strengths which people dealing with a mental health condition often possess.
Executive Producer Thomas Denton explains: “The idea of ‘Mental: My Take’ is to look behind the label of mental health, to bring out the human voice, seek to demystify related issues and fight discrimination. By talking to those affected we want to show that it is not something to be afraid of.
“Great strengths are brought out in people who have suffered from mental health issues. They often have a unique skill set because they have had to not only had to deal with the challenges we all face, but have had to manage their condition on a day-to-day basis.”
Having gained the backing of organisations such as Mental Wealth UK, Nightline Association, Rethink, Mind, Mental Health Foundation and the University,
“Through the use of YouTube, we want to build a repository of information – of first person testimonials – which allow people to hear about the personal feelings and experiences of peers coping with similar issues. By allowing anyone to view it, it will become more than a documentary, it will become a resource.”
To find out more about ‘Mental: My Take’ or get involved in the project yourself, please visit: www.facebook.com/mentalmytake. Find additional information for individuals and professionals online. We also would like to take anonymous testimony.
Please get in touch, Documentary@nutsoline.org.
By Harry Waddle
The University of Nottingham
For the full article, please see the May edition of Exchange Magazine
Exeter University’s Mental Wealth group ‘Mind Your Head’ have launched the Mind and Music Project - a series of open workshops ran in collaboration with World Music Choir groups. The group held a laughter yoga* workshop and Music for the Mind workshop on 20th & 21st February respectively, aiming to help students have fun, relax and improve their mental health.
The Music for the Mind workshop focussed on the impact music and singing can have on the mind. It featured chants and rounds, percussion and sign language, with an emphasis on togetherness and singing as a group. Singing with others is one way to feel uplifted and happy, and has a proven positive effect on mental wellbeing. This could be from the effects of connecting with others, positive reciprocation, teamwork and belonging.
Connecting with others and feeling like you belong in a group are two of the ‘10 keys to happier living’ developed by friends of Mental Wealth UK, Action for Happiness. For more information visit http://www.actionforhappiness.org/10-keys-to-happier-living
*Laughter yoga was initiated by the Indian doctor, Madan Kataria in c.1995. It first started out as a physical exercise ritual done by groups of men in Indian parks in the early morning. Kataria then created a small laughter yoga group, and from there the concept grew to the international network of groups. Laughter yoga combines diaphragmatic yogic breathing with group-initiated laughter which then more often than not develops into ‘real’ unstructured contagious laughter. Groups may also include a laughter meditation into their sessions. Laughter is of course renowned for its mood-enhancing ability, and there is some scientific evidence for it providing cardiovascular health benefits (such as reduced blood pressure) also.
For the second year running, Cambridge Mental Wealth organised a fantastic Mental Health Week. Between the 14th-21st February the Cambridge Mental Wealth team organised various activities to help students beat the ‘semester 2 blues’ and learn more about mental health difficulties including depression, eating disorders and autistic spectrum conditions as well as the help available. They also looked into the impact of perfectionism, which is prevalent in highly pressured environments.
The group ran a variety of events, ranging from a drop in ‘coffee morning’ for students to gain information on mental health conditions, to a yoga and positive self-talk workshop. They had talks by the University counselling service to provide informal information and advice, and various other speakers, discussions and seminars. This included a talk from Robert Spoonert, the father of a former Cambridge student who died following a battle with anorexia, as well as a lecture from Simon Baron-Cohen of the Autism Research Centre.
The week was highly successful, with the group leaders acting as fantastic ambassadors for Mental Wealth UK and building the momentum and inspiration for further events.
Watch the Video about the week here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=66Rl-siSo7s
Watch Interviews with the speakers, Simon Baron-Cohen and Robert Spoonert here: http://www.cu-tv.co.uk/category/factual/
Last week hundreds of students travelled to Sheffield to represent their university or college at the National Union of Students annual conference. At the event, students voted on a variety of policy areas which will guide NUS’ work over the next year and influence Students’ Unions across the UK. In the Welfare Zone of conference, a new and comprehensive Mental Health Policy, which was proposed by the University of West England and Kent University Students’ Unions,’ successfully passed and therefore becomes official NUS policy.
The policy resolves for NUS “To work with organisations such as Mind and Mental Wealth UK to increase NUS’ presence on work in mental health”. The policy also includes praise for peer-led initiatives, like Mental Wealth groups, and makes the commitment “To continue to promote the effectiveness of peer mentoring schemes on campuses and make the case for the positive effect it can have on wellbeing.” We look forward to working further with NUS to break down barriers surrounding student mental health and to establish more student-led groups that create positive change on campuses across the UK.
You can find out more about the NUS conference here: http://www.nusconnect.org.uk/conference/
The full Mental Health Policy can be found below:
Motion No. 612
Policy Area: Mental Health Awareness and Challenging Discrimination
Submitted by: UWE, Kent
1. Policy on mental health is due to lapse.
2. Mental health has become an increasingly growing concern among the student population.
3. It is reported that 1 in 4 people will suffer from a mental health condition in their life time.
4. Between 2007 and 2011 suicides by male students in full-time higher education grew by 36%, while female student suicides almost doubled.
5. NUS Scotland has carried out extensive work on mental health, notably the ‘Silently Stressed’ research and ‘Breaking the Silence’ report in 2010 and 2011, respectively.
6. The NUS Disabled Students’ Campaign has also carried out a lot of work in mental health in the last year.
7. One in four adults and one in ten children suffer a Mental Health issue.
8. Severe cuts are being made to psychiatric and mental health recovery services up and down the country.
9. Financial and housing concerns places additional pressures on students and this has been linked to a potential rise in MH issues/stress related illnesses.
10. That businesses could be doing more to address the issues and pressures students and community member’s face in the current environment.
11. NUS Scotland has run a student orientated Mental Health project called Think Positive, which has led to some very informative and successful research into the area, including Silently Stressed (2010) and Breaking the Silence (2011).
12. There needs to be a national campaign for Mental Health training to be implemented at all Higher Education and Further Education Institutions across the country.
13. Undertaking of this training by staff will mean they will be able to better differentiate between varying student welfare demands as well as having a clearer understanding of how mental health conditions can impact upon students, their studies and the relationship of staff and students with each other.
14. This brings numerous benefits to the student experience, because if universities are better trained in Mental Health awareness, then they will be able to better meet the needs of struggling students.
15. Administration of this training to all university and student union staff will increase their knowledge of policies and procedures that are in place to help staff understand boundaries, safe-working practices and communicating clearly with students suffering mental health difficulties.
16. That this training will be informative and helpful, as well improving staff confidence in supporting struggling students.
17. That the University of the West of England, in the partnership with the Students’ Union has been working to implement such training and seriously challenge Mental Health discrimination within the student and staff population, which has included both parties signing the Time To Change pledge to end Mental Health Discrimination.
18. More can be done to promote Mental Health awareness and anti-stigma campaigns at the level of the National Union of Students (NUS).
19. Stigma surrounding Mental Health and active Mental Health Discrimination is beginning to decrease.
20. Although stigma is decreasing, more still proactive campaigning needs to be done to ensure a continuing positive decrease.
21. The existence of campaigns like Time To Change is is very important to challenging Mental Health discrimination in general,
but also specifically in the workplace and in education institutions.
22. That liberation groups are at particular high risk of experiencing Mental Health issues and also the discrimination that goes with it.
23. There is the existence of ‘fit to sit’ polices surrounding exams.
24. This conference believes that some companies actively discriminate against people with mental health issues.
Conference Further Believes:
1. Given the climate of stress faced by students; academic pressures, financial hardship, concern on graduate debt & employment, a change of environment and a total shift of support networks – students are in a far more vulnerable position to suffer from a mental health issue.
2. In a climate of mass cuts to budgets of Colleges and Universities we cannot assume key wellbeing services are safe from cuts.
3. Institutions and Students’ Unions have a responsibility to work in partnership on mental health.
4. Work carried out on mental health must take a pragmatic shift from just running awareness campaigns to winning adequate service provision on our campuses to help those in need, and a serious commitment from a cross section of institutions to recognise and tackle mental health.
5. Whilst activities like ‘mental health weeks’ can be a useful tool for success, we shouldn’t minimise the issue into a week of action as a way to tick a box of tackling the issue. We must discover the next platform for mental health.
1. To ensure that any training or workshops given on mental health give explicit tangible outcomes that can be won on campuses.
2. That the autonomy of the NUS Disabled Students Campaign on this issue is vital and to ensure leadership is derived as such.
3. To work with organisations such as Mind and Mental Wealth UK to increase NUS’ presence on work in mental health taking us from the side lines to the forefront.
4. To continue to promote the effectiveness of peer mentoring schemes on campuses and make the case for the positive effect it can have on wellbeing.
5. To lobby all Higher Education and Further Education institutions up and down the country to introduce and send staff on Mental Health Awareness Training to better understand how they can support students facing difficulties and know where the boundaries are.
6. To recognise the positive work that has been done by NUS Scotland and commission similar research to take place in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
7. To actively declare its support for The Time to Change Campaign and work with them to promote the auditing of educational institutions and businesses on Mental Health awareness practices.
8. To raise awareness of how Mental Health affects individuals from liberation groups and to work with these groups to implement targeted campaigns that address the issues they face.
9. To lobby the government to U-turn on its planned cuts to welfare services and Mental Health wards.
10. To lobby the government to review the Mental Health Act 2007 to provide more protection for individuals committed towards.
11. To continue to lobby to reduce public stigma surrounding Mental Health Discrimination and build upon the work started through the Mental Health Discrimination Bill.
12. To reduce and dispel the stigmas surrounding individuals with mental health issues and ensure they are not discriminated against in the workplace.
13. To call for ‘fit to sit’ policies and any similar practices to be abolished by educational institutions and review its provisions and practices for students affect by Mental Health issues.14. To lobby universities to include relevant information on extenuating/mitigating circumstances to help students get through their studies and not slip through the net.15. To lobby universities to actively oppose companies which display discrimination to students and individuals affected by mental health issues and to work with them to improve their practices.
Student Wellbeing Web Summit Panel Discussion, Wednesday 20th March, 14.00-15.30pm
Higher Education and mental health experts will be exploring the question ‘What should a university mental health policy look like?’ as part of the Web Summit ran by Mental Wealth UK
and Open Your Mind.
In 2011, the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ urged all universities to have in place a formal mental health policy. The issue has been made all the more pressing by data released in 2012 that suggested that there has been a marked increase in student suicides since 2008.
It is hoped that this discussion will be useful to staff and students working to promote mental health on campuses, as well as further national efforts to coordinate the promotion of mental health across the sector.
To take part please register here: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/4245777693707723776. You will then be sent information about how to access the discussion room and will have the opportunity to share your thoughts and questions during the event.
The full schedule for the web summit can be found here or here.
You can also share the event or your opinions as it unfolds by tweeting @mentalwealthuk and using the hashtag #mwukweb
Chris Brill, Policy Advisor, Equality Challenge Unit
In 2012, the Equality Challenge Unit (ECU) reported on the problem of low disclosure rates from university students with mental health problems. The ECU is currently surveying students to look at how universities can support students experiencing mental health problems. Chris Brill is the project lead for work on Equality in Higher Education, and previously worked at the National Autistic Society where he gained experience in disability equality issues.
Ruth Caleb, Secretary, Working Group for Promotion of Mental Wellbeing in Higher Education (MWBHE), Head of Counselling, Brunel University
MWBHE is a national working group hosted by Universities UK and GuildHE that aims to promote collaboration between the different sectors, agencies and professional groups with responsibility for mental well-being in HE, and to influence policy within the subject area. The group contains membership from 9 of the leading bodies and groups concerned with mental health in higher education, and is due to survey universities to find out how many have mental health policies in place this year, following a similar survey in 2008 (as reported on in the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ 2011 report).
Sharon Doherty, Healthy University Coordinator, Healthy Universities / Healthy Settings Development Officer, University of Central Lancashire.
The Healthy Universities project has received widespread recognition and support for its advocacy of a whole-university approach to promoting health and wellbeing, and was recommended in the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ 2011 report into student mental health. Sharon Doherty has spent 20 years in public health & health promotion, and is currently based in the Healthy Settings Unit at the University of Central Lancashire, where, alongside supporting the Healthy Universities framework, she consults locally, regionally, and nationally, on delivering healthy settings approaches.
Colum McGuire, Welfare Zone Committee Member, National Union of Students / VP Welfare, Kent Students’ Union
As Vice President for Welfare, Colum represents students at Kent University on various issues relating to student welfare and recently led the Students’ Union’s Mental Health Week. He was also elected onto the NUS Welfare Committee, who steer the work of the National Union of Students Welfare Zone.
Ed Pinkney, Project Coordinator, Open Your Mind (National Union of Students – Union of Students Ireland)
Open Your Mind is the NUS Group’s Northern Ireland mental health project, and is co-run by NUS-USI and Mindwise. As the oldest student-led mental health project in the UK, having been launched in 2007 with support from the Big Lottery Fund, Open Your Mind delivers accredited mental health training and campaigning opportunities to students. Ed Pinkney took over leadership of the project in January 2013 after founding Mental Wealth UK in 2010, and has written about the challenges of implementing national guidelines for students’ mental health.
In February 2012, the Mental Wealth UK committee met to discuss a problem that had arisen. The committee planned to hold a conference to explore some of the key issues affecting students’ mental health and to share learnings and best practices, but no one could agree on a date or venue.
We knew that wherever we held it, there would be people that would struggle to make it due to timing and budget constraints. Then one of the committee said, “Hold on. What if we do it online?” After exploring the technology available, it was decided.
The Mental Wealth Web Summit was held in March 2012, and featured workshops on running mental health events and campaigns, a panel discussion with representatives from Healthy Universities, NUS, Mindapples, and Mental Wealth UK, and an ideas sharing forum exploring some of the most creative & effective campus initiatives for promoting mental health from the previous 12 months. Despite technological teething problems, the event proved to be a very effective platform for discussion and ideas sharing, and the feedback from participants was extremely positive.
On Wednesday March 20th 2013, the Web Summit will be returning, this time hosted by Mental Wealth UK and Open Your Mind. Once again, the event will look to provide guidelines on running campaigns, discussion about how we can improve the sectorial approach to students’ mental health, and a roundup of news and ideas from the past 12 months.
Since the last Web Summit, the conversation about students’ mental health has continued to develop. New data about disclosure rates and suicide figures has brought sharp focus to the issues raised in 2011’s report into student mental health. Journalists and professionals have commented on the mental health of students (here, here, here, here, and here), and on the 20th February, the second annual University Mental Health & Wellbeing Day took place.
Recognising that the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ 2011 report (http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/publications/collegereports/cr/cr166.aspx) provides a marker for students’ mental health, the panel discussion this year will look at one of the report’s most specific recommendations: that all universities ought to have a formal mental health policy in place. The report states:
“This [the university’s mental health policy] should ensure that they meet statutory obligations under disability legislation. It should also cover areas such as health promotion, the provision of advice and counselling services, student support and mentoring, and special arrangements for examinations (Universities UK/GuildHE Working Group for the Promotion of Mental Well-Being in Higher Education, 2006).”
The panel will look at what a mental health policy should look like, and how it can be kept up to date and policed. Appreciating the uniqueness of each institution, and the constantly changing nature of the student population, the panel will also take a step back and explore the usefulness of a mental health policy.
After the panel discussion, there will be a review of ideas and events from across the UK, particularly those coming out of the growing network of student-led mental health & wellbeing initiatives. The forum will also involve a roundup of useful resources, tools, and tips for running campus based mental health projects. All of the sharings and discussions will shared through social media channels and recorded and made publicly available after the day.
Above all else, the event aims to be a celebration of the work being done to promote good mental health on campuses by staff and students across the UK.
To register for the event, or to find out how you can contribute, visit http://mwukweb.wix.com/mwuk-web-summit.
The Friday Alternative is a series of relaxed social events run by Mental Wealth Nottingham. These aim to provide a supportive, non-judgemental environment for those who may find socialising difficult. We do this by holding the socials in quieter locations such as rooms in the Students’ Union or local cafes and where possible forming a buddy system where a facilitator can meet attendees beforehand to help them feel more comfortable and answer questions. Obtaining feedback from members will be carried out throughout the year to improve their social experience.