Today on campus, organisations including Student Minds, Mental Wealth, OCD Talk and Nightline set up stalls on the concourse for Mental Health Awareness day. The aim of the day was to raise awareness and give out information about the services available to students with mental health issues- which are thought to affect around 30% of the student body.
Today’s event saw stalls with games, freebies, leaflets, challenges, stress balls, and a Facebook pledge competition- but the most important part of the day was undoubtedly the information given out and awareness raised.
Among the volunteers helping to run the day were Vicky Gall and Luke Taylor, respectively co-president and vice president of Student Minds, the UK’s leading student mental health charity, which has recently merged with Mental Wealth. The organisation is now in its second year of running at Southampton, having really taken off this year. Co-president Vicky Gall said of their achievements this year:
Our attendance has gone up by about 20% at each session, and last week we got over 50 people to start a conversation about mental health
In raising awareness for the services available, the teams were also keen to promote the benefits of becoming involved in a voluntary mental health organisation, Vicky Gall said:
I got involved with Student Minds because I had two friends that suffered with eating disorders, I found it quite hard supporting them, and I know that they obviously struggled quite a lot, so I got involved with helping people, which I think we have successfully done with the groups this year becoming a lot more popular, and the merge with mental wealth is really good because we are able to pull together, as a bigger student body that can have more of an impact.
Student Minds have a lot more planned this year too. As well as running fortnightly peer support sessions for eating disorders, they are also in the process of training new support facilitators, and on the 18th March they are set to commence ‘Supporting Supporters’ sessions, for those affected by loved ones with eating disorders. They will also be hosting events such as film screenings throughout the week commencing 3rd March for Eating Disorder Awareness week.
We also spoke to an attendee of OCD talks, a monthly support group for students coping with OCD and other related disorders such as body dysmorphia syndrome, who stressed the importance of the charity for students:
At university, students are often away from their home environment for the first time, and this is a struggle for any student, particularly those who have OCD. Therefore, offering a good support group basically allows people with OCD to build a support network, and create identification with people who have related conditions, and that can be really beneficial for their mental health and recovery
For more information about the services available, use the following links:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/MentalWealthVolunteers/ (to volunteer)
firstname.lastname@example.org (for support)