In 2011, David Walmsley, a staff member from Queen Mary, put forward an idea for an event exploring the theme of Perfectionism. Recognising that students often struggle with perfectionism and that it can lead to anxiety and depression, he decided to help students come face to face with the issue, by bringing in great blocks of ice and inviting students to have a go at ice sculpting, emphasising that being creative and expressive can be more important than aiming for perfection. The idea received some funding to help make it happen, and the resulting event engaged hundreds of students and received a great reaction.
Stress Relief at the University of Birmingham
In spring 2011, this concept came out of Birmingham University.
The University of Birmingham Disabled Students’ Officer (DSO) and Disability and Mental Health Students Association (DAMSA) are organising a Mental Health Awareness event for March 23rd and 24th 2011. March 23rd will be an introduction to mental health, where student groups will be running discussion events to help people learn more about what mental health is, before the main event on 24th: ‘How’s your mental health today?’
We hope that by taking this event onto campus as well as the Guild, we can reach every student on campus and promote the idea that everybody, not just those who define as having a mental health problem, has a mental health which needs caring for. This will help students to see the enhancement of mental health as part of a healthy lifestyle, both inside and outside of campus life.
To promote mental health care, we have teamed up with many university and student run support services and activities on campus will include, but not be limited to:
- Yoga taster session and Thrive (nutrition) workshop by the Munrow Sports Centre
- Body Image workshop by the Women’s Association
- Meditation with the Chaplaincy and Interfaith groups
- Stress management workshop by University Counselling and Guidance
- Introduction to Alternative Therapies by Well Naturally
- Tours of the Winterbourne Botanical Gardens and the Barber Institute of Fine Arts to show students ‘safe’ quiet spaces on campus
- A Nightline (student volunteer group) listening post
- Coffee and cakes with DAMSA
- Screening and discussion of a mental health film produced by the Guild TV society
In addition, the University has a mental health awareness officer who has contacts with Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health trust, and we are hoping that the trust and staff from the new mental health hospital will also come onto campus.
We hope that the benefits of such a day will encourage all students to engage in activities which will improve their mental health, as well as meet people and societies which will offer new friendship groups. We strongly believe that peer support is of utmost importance when it comes to mental health care, and a clear show of support on campus will help students to realise that all people have a mental health to take care of! When students realise that they have both professional and peer support on campus, this will give students more focus on mental wellbeing, making people happier and redirecting those who would otherwise have considered suicide, while those who continue to contemplate suicide will know where they can find support.
Although most of the activities will not require funding as they are student-led, we will not be able to promote this event outside of the Guild and reach the full 28,000 university students without help towards advertising costs. We need to promote this event to students through marketing (posters, banners, flyers, t-shirts and electronic messages and bulletins) on all campuses and halls of residence, to spread a message of mental wellbeing.
Cardiff Mental Wealth ‘Inner Child’ 2011
One of the award-winning ideas from 2011. We’ll post their viral video later !
We at Cardiff Mental Wealth want to provide students with a completely new experience to promote positive mental health. There is a time in all our lives when we are young, free and more often than not without serious emotional worries and the world is a plethora of explorative pleasures. We would like to offer students the opportunity to revisit this period in their lives and, in doing so, remind them of the more light-hearted and simple joys of life.
The event will be themed around the title ‘Get in Touch With Your Inner Child’. The university have this year introduced a health awareness day, of which mental health is a pivotal theme. They are looking for annual initiatives which can be replicated in future years, and are fully supportive of this event as part of that day. The timing of the event is such that many students will be going through the student’s union and will be able to participate in the activities.
We will be looking to bring in face painters, street performers, a bouncy castle, a ball pit and other professional entertainers for the day. We will also be running challenges revolving around Lego and Scalextric, and promoting creative expression through art. The idea is to encourage students to remember this period of developmental freedom and promote a feeling of self expression through nostalgic activities. Many of the activities will incur a cost, and without proper funding we would be far more limited in developing the event, and consequently the positive student impact we would hope to achieve. It would be preferable not to draw funds away from our publicity campaign which we’ve acquired through fundraising activities.
We feel that the activities will offer students a welcome break from the stresses and demands of university life that can manifest themselves as a more serious problem and potentially lead to student suicide in the long-term. The timing of the event will be especially appropriate given that it shortly follows the exam period, which is often a challenging time mentally and emotionally. We shall also be using the opportunity to engage with students about the concept of mental wealth and ways in which students can further understand and improve methods for good mental wellbeing. The event will be run by student volunteers who will be actively engaging with other students to make them aware of the service Mental Wealth provide and that numerous welfare organisations are available to them should they require it.
The event will be rigorously publicised both before and after to maintain continuity of the idea that positive mental wellbeing is achievable and that students should regularly consider ways of maintaining a healthy mental state.
Mental Wealth Wednesday!
A planned event from St Andrews in 2011. Maybe they will tell us how it went?
We are organising a day of events to promote wellbeing and mental health in St. Andrews. Mental Wealth Wednesday will take place on Wednesday 23rd February 2011. This will promote individual awareness of mental wealth and challenge stigma and silence surrounding mental health, in order to assert the support, caring and understanding that define our community. We aim to transform St. Andrews into a place where people can talk openly and comfortably to each other about their mental health, knowing that they will be treated fairly and considerately.
This project is conceived and led by students, including support volunteers and members of the Student Representative Council. We are working closely with staff from Student Services and sabbatical officers, and collaborating with student societies, the Athletic Union, local businesses and schools. The events aim to educate people about mental health and mental illness, and to encourage a healthy lifestyle to increase wellbeing. They include:
- Laughter therapy workshop
- Special Breakfasts in halls of residence
- Film showings, provided by the Mental Health Foundation
- Mental health awareness workshops, including suicide prevention, from Breathing Space
- Chill out evening in a local cafe – including music, comedy and poetry
- Events at our Sports Centre, promoting the importance of exercise for wellbeing.
- Mindfulness Workshop
- Community Art Competition with the backing of a local artist.
We have been working to identify where funds are most required. Whilst we are applying for limited funding from our Student Representative Council, this will not be enough to realise the potential of Mental Wealth Wednesday. It is essential that we publicise our events and our message widely and effectively for this project to be a success. If given a Papyrus award, we would spend these funds on publicity. Our innovative publicity campaign will:
- Attract people to our events
- Challenge and change attitudes and
- Promote the concept of Mental Wealth
- Be designed by the group, at no cost
- Feature an extensive poster campaign throughout University buildings and the town
- Involve a give-away of pots of blowing bubbles, with information on them about our events and mental health more widely. Reflecting one of our key taglines: ‘Bursting the bubble of stigma and silence’.
- Create material (designs, banners, posters and more) that will outlast the campaign and be reused for future Mental Wealth events, to help ensure the sustainability of the campaign.
Mental Wealth Wednesday will be a popular and innovative event, instrumental in promoting wellbeing in our community. It will create a conversation around mental health, and pave the way for future events and campaigns in St. Andrews. The quality and scale of our publicity will create a strong image and encourage high attendance at all events. It is through this that we are confident that we can change attitudes towards wellbeing; reduce the chance of students developing mental health difficulties; improve the experience of those who already suffer difficulties and so really change the lives of students at St. Andrews.
Wellbeing ‘Exam Kits’, An Idea from EUSA.
An idea for a mental health project put forward by Edinburgh University in 2011:
Last year worrying statistics were published by NUS Scotland concerning the number of students who felt stressed out and what the most common triggers student stress. In response to this report EUSA, and more specifically, the student welfare forum and disabled student action group, wanted to take action. During last semester, to coincide with our exam period, we published a mental wellbeing guide, which included lots of tips and ideas on how to de-stress. For the exam period this semester, we would like to re-run a mental health campaign and build on our efforts last semester.
EUSA would like to produce a few hundred ‘exam kits’ for students this semester. Our student helpline society ‘Nightline’ produced a similar product last year, but on a much smaller scale. We would like to both continue and extend this innovative project and reach hundreds of students who will be experiencing stressful exam revision.
The ‘exam kits’ will contain a mental wellbeing guide, exam revision guides as well as some light relief in the form of snacks, drinks and extra stationary. They will also contain a wide range of information from mental health charities, including Mental Wealth UK, and other organisation, such as NUS Scotland, the NHS LGBT organisations, internal student counseling services and suicide prevention charities, such as the Charlie Waller Memorial Trust and the Samaritans. We have a large amount of valuable information we wish to distribute to students and funding will help us distribute resources in an appealing way. The ‘exam kits’ will package the information in a variety of ways including bookmarks, pens and leaflets.
Funding will go towards the ‘exam kit’ project by allowing us to pay for designing and producing of the mental health guide into a more concise format, suitable for exam kits. We can also purchase more, environmentally sound, canvas bags which will hold the exam kit, as well as some of the content, namely pens, snacks and drinks.
We hope that the exam kits and the mental health campaign of this semester will give students a stress relieving boost whilst they study. The exam kits are intended to be a fund source of light relief but also contain information about serious mental health issues linked to students, namely stress, depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts. By balancing the message of the campaign between lightweight and more serious elements, whilst simultaneously providing several hundred ‘exam kits’, we hope to reach numerous students who would otherwise feel isolated and stressed at this time.
The Mind Matters Day, 2009. The event that kicked it all off! From the Mind Matters Society at Leeds University.
In late 2008 Ed Pinkney, President of the Leeds University Enterprise Society, met with the Head of the Counselling Service to talk about how the Enteprise Society might be able to promote student services. Whilst there, he spotted a poster introducing the idea of a ‘mental health group’ and looking for other students that might be interested. Ed got in touch, met Dom Martin - a student who had had to take time off university the year before due to stress / mental health problems - and together they drew up a plan for The Mind Matters Society.
The first major event was the Mind Matters Day in February 2011, which took place in the main hall of the bustling student union. The counselling service and a handful of mental health organisations offered their time and energy to hand out leaflets and promote support services on the day, and a variety of freebies and entertainment was offered to attract students and engage them in the event. These included free massages, a bouncy castle, free food, DJs, and a raffle to win £300.
Over 700 students passed through the doors, participating in activities and learning more about mental health, and sharing ‘what they do for theirs’. The organisations involved congratulated the organisers, and encouraged the running of further events. Almost 1000 students completed a survey, helping the university to get a benchmark for mental health attitudes and awareness.
The event was featured in the local press, and was filmed by LSTV. The video of the event, featured above, won an award at the National Student Television Awards, and the Mind Matters Society was shortlisted for event of the year at the annual student awards.