World Mental Health Awareness Day falls on Wednesday, October 10 but in recent years it has become apparent that a single day cannot encompass such a broad topic. For this reason, SUSU is presenting Mental Health Awareness Week 2012. ‘Mental Health’ is not synonymous with ‘mental health problems’; we hope to support all students throughout our activities, as well as tackling stigma.
Monday, October 8 seeks to emphasise the point that all students have mental health. Mental health shapes our attitudes towards both ourselves and our lives; influencing our responses to everyday situations and bigger life choices. We want students to know that caring for their mental health is as important as caring for their physical health, and that looking after their mental health need only require a few simple steps.
One of the simple steps to build self-esteem, motivation and mental wellbeing is getting involved: doing good does you good! Volunteering promotes positive psychological changes in the brain associated with happiness – these are often followed by subsequent periods of calm. Engaging in a meaningful activity can help us reduce isolation, revolutionise our outlooks on life, and add to our ‘kindness bank’ of memories that can contribute to wellbeing in difficult times. Helping others can lead us to lead more physically active lifestyles: reducing stress and anger; boosting our immune systems; and according to studies, even increase how long we live. To find out more about the benefits of volunteering check out Mental Wealth blogs from June here.
Doing something for someone else doesn’t have to be time-consuming to have an impact. It can be as simple as letting someone in front of you in a queue, writing a letter to someone who has had a positive impact on you, or donating money to charity. I made the New Year’s resolution that I would say five nice things to people each day, and always smile at people I interact with. I don’t always achieve it, but when I get a smile back it does make my day a bit brighter. Get some inspiration from the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation.
Looking out for friends makes it easier for all of us to maintain good mental health, and to build supportive friendships. At university, many friendships are akin to family, this often means being someone’s first point of support when they’re struggling. The best thing you may be able to do for your friend is just to listen to them, non-judgmentally; recognise the courage it has taken them to ask for help, and assist them in finding it. It is important to identify that it is not your responsibility to fix all your friend’s difficulties; you have your own mental wellbeing to consider. Don’t forget that they are still your friend, and are likely happy to listen to your problems back (even if they feel trivial in comparison).
Monday 11am-2pm we will be on the concourse encouraging you to focus on several aspects of your mental health. Firstly, ‘Doing Good Does You Good’ by presenting you with more opportunities to get involved in with volunteering, and suggestions for Random Acts of Kindness. Secondly, ‘Post Secret’: an opportunity to let that secret go, by submitting it anonymously in Mental Wealth’s little red postbox. Finally, ‘Look Out For Your Friends’ with 366 paper students dotted around campus – find one to learn how to support a friend, and you can enter our MHAW prize draw! In the evening, at 6pm, Mental Wealth will be holding their Welcome Meeting and First Social: – this is your opportunity to find out how to get more involved in mental health campaigning about campus.