Society Spotlight: University of Southampton Mind Society

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Although we’re a society still relatively in its infancy compared to many of the long-standing societies of Southampton’s Student Union – with the academic year 2018/19 being our third year running – the University of Southampton Mind Society (MindSoc) is planning for an even bigger and better year. 1 in 4 people suffer from a mental health condition and for all of us at MindSoc, we are passionate about making sure that no one has to go through these issues alone, and that those affected by such issues are able to access and receive support to aid recovery and/or recuperation.

At MindSoc, and as a student-led society, we are committed to bringing students across the University of Southampton together who are passionate about campaigning, fundraising and raising awareness for mental health issues. The society itself is officially affiliated with the mental health charity, Solent Mind – the largest local branch of Mind in the country, covering the areas of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. Our aim is to get as many students on board who are as passionate about giving something back to this cause as we are – while there may be few of us, we certainly make up for it by being incredibly friendly and enthusiastic.

The society was founded just three years ago by two fantastic former students of the university – one of whom we are very proud to say has since gone on to work a full time job with Mind. In order to be set up, MindSoc worked alongside both SUSU and RAG to gain support in its journey to be established. Since then, the society has continued to grow from strength to strength; one of our major, and most popular, events is our annual Santa Walk to Winchester where we gather a group of willing students to walk a distance of almost 13 miles from Southampton to Winchester. The walk finishes at Winchester Christmas Market, where we invite anyone who has joined us on the walk to stay around for a well-earned mulled wine, or hot chocolate, preference dependent of course, with all proceeds raised via sponsors going directly to Solent Mind. Over the last two years, this event alone has raised almost £1,500 – something we are incredibly proud of.

As well as our larger fundraising events, across the calender for each academic year, we also host a series of awareness raising activities and events that, more generally, hope to encourage students, staff and anyone in between to speak more openly and honestly about mental health across campus. One of our most successful awareness raising events is our Tea and Talk Afternoons. For these afternoons, we create a positive and open safe-space with a non-judgemental environment, in which people may drop by as of when they chose, to come and chat about their personal journeys with their own mental health issues and/or experiences. We bring along plenty of biscuits and since being donated, very kindly, a bag of over 1000 teabags from the SUSU, you don’t need to worry about us ever running being short on cups of tea.

Another of our highlights from last year was the End of Year Charity Fundraiser where we collaborated with Motor Neuron Disease Association Society (MNDASoc). Guest speakers from both charities joined us for an evening of live music, drinks at Southampton’s very own The Bridge, and networking – plus it was the perfect excuse to dress up fancy for an evening. We also work closely with Wessex Scene to provide any of our members here at MindSoc who are interested in, and comfortable with, writing about and sharing their stories with the platform to do so. In addition to this, we encourage our members to volunteer with Solent Mind directly if this is something they are keen on. We have the necessary contact details on hand to signpost those interested to some of the charity’s programmes, such as Heads Up – a Solent Mind initiative where a group of young people go into local schools, colleges and universities to deliver workshops and activities that seek to educate students of all ages about mental health issues.

This summer, our committee has been busy making very exciting plans for the upcoming academic year – and beyond. One event very early on into term is the quiz evening we are co-hosting alongside QuizSoc to honour World Mental Health Day this year, which falls on the 10th October. Obviously I’m a tad biased in saying so, but it’s definitely worth putting the date in your diaries now – it’s going to be a fun evening of testing your general knowledge, or lack thereof even, while doing some good for charity. Also in the works are yoga sessions, cafe crawls, guest speaker evenings, and more of our personal favourites such as Tea and Talk afternoons, movie nights, bake sales, socials at Sprinkles, and a pumpkin carving evening for Halloween.

If you want to keep updated as we reveal more about our plans for the next year, or generally want to find out more about what we get up to as MindSoc, click here to find our facebook page, and here to find our recently set up Twitter page. Alternatively, if you have any questions or ideas for us, or if you’re considering becoming a volunteer for Solent Mind, drop us a message – we don’t bite!

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3rd year English Lit w/ Education student with a keen interest in education, politics, feminism and diversity, and a strong passion for mental health awareness. I volunteer and I am rather partial to the odd jam tart. Sub-Editor for Wessex Scene 2018/9. Find more of my personal musings and (somewhat) articulate rantings at www.ofrabjousday.blog.wordpress.com

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