Written by Bella Brown
Getting involved in my first Mental Health Awareness week has been an eye opener in so many ways. Not just through hearing other people’s experiences and difficulties, but also about discovering how different people deal with them. It’s safe to say there are loads of different ways, but the two that crop up again and again are exercise and creativity.
The positive effect of sport and exercise on the mind is well documented. The Mental Health Foundation advocates some form of physical activity for 30 minutes, five times a week, in order to keep mental health in check, citing less tension, improved sleep, a better social life and a sense of achievement as key reasons. And physical activity doesn’t have to mean slogging it out at the gym. The university has tons of active opportunities; as well as the Sport and Wellbeing membership which gives students unlimited access to the swimming pool, gym and numerous fitness classes for just £130 a year, SUSU also provides lots of opportunities. Whether you’re into hockey, badminton, martial arts, trampolining or dance, there is something you can do while getting fit and making friends at the same time.
Creativity is also a prime way to explore emotions and release tension caused by mental illness. I, for one, write songs and keep a blog. Some people write poems or stories. And some people just talk, to friends or to strangers via sites like Black Dog Tribe, “the Facebook of mental illness”.
We’re exploring both of these things on day four (Thursday) of MHAW, on the concourse. Between 11 and 2 we’re going to have sports and games for everyone to join and get those lovely little endorphins running. Then at 7.30, ‘Talking Heads’ will present lots of different views of mental health through speeches, monologues, poems and even song. Both events are free but we will be taking donations towards Solent Mind’s Heads UP project and Mental Wealth Southampton in the evening.