“It’s time to end the stigma”: an interview with Student Minds

You've probably heard of Student Minds, but you might not know too much about what they do. Maddie De Soyza finds out a bit more.

All of us can relate to feeling fragile from time to time, especially in the thick of deadlines, homesickness and whatever other obstacles uni frequently presents. Impact spoke to Emily Riby, a volunteer for Student Minds, who told us about the work they do to help support those who are struggling.

Can you explain what Student Minds is?

Student Minds is a UK student mental health charity. Their main aim is to help students look after their mental health. They run campaigns and support groups up and down the country, specifically for students. However, here at the University of Nottingham we differ from other unis because we run both campaigns and support groups, rather than one or the other.

“We have produced a (tastefully) nude calendar”

What can you tell us about the Love Your Body campaign?

Love Your Body is a campaign we are running this semester to promote body positivity and self-love across all the UoN campuses. As part of this we have produced a (tastefully) nude calendar featuring many different societies and different body types. The link to buy calendars can be found via the SU website or on the Student Minds Facebook page. It will cost £5 upon first release and £6.50 after that so get them quick!

What inspired you to get involved with Student Minds?

One thing that struck me when I first came to the University of Nottingham is the huge amount of focus placed on students’ images, in particular their weight. There’s a lot of talk about the ‘fresher’s five’ and weight gain during fresher’s week and beyond. I think it’s really important to stress the fact that everyone’s body is different and everyone should love their body because we are all unique. Volunteering for Student Minds is also a great way to raise money for the charity, which is doing some amazing work across the different UoN campuses.

“There is still a massive stigma surrounding the topic of mental health”

So what do Student Minds do?

Student Minds run Positive Minds workshops weekly, happening Tuesdays 6-8pm on University Park, and Mondays 6-8pm on Sutton Bonington. They are run by facilitators, who are students themselves, meaning they can fully empathise with other students going through the university experience. The workshops are a great place to go and talk, sharing as much or as little as you like, about whatever you like. There’s free tea and coffee. It’s basically a safe space where you can be yourself.

Who are the workshops for?

Everyone! Particularly people who are feeling a bit homesick, such as international students but also UK students too. We tend to get an increase in numbers during exam seasons. People from all ages are welcome; we get postgrads as well as undergrad students.

“Life would be so much better if people would just talk”

Why do you think Student Minds is so important?

Because the rate of depression and suicide amongst students is seriously high. And even if we succeed in lowering that, there is still a massive stigma surrounding the topic of mental health that needs to be broken. Life would be so much better if people would just talk.

What does your role involve, as a Student Minds volunteer?

I’m on the Student Minds committee (separate from Positive Minds). As treasurer it’s my role to raise enough money for the coming year. It costs a lot to fund the Positive Minds sessions and train the facilitators, who are trained separately from the University as part of the wider Student Minds organisation.

Where can we find you?

You can message us via our Facebook page. Or you can find us at our website, http://www.studentminds.org.uk

Maddie De Soyza

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Image courtesy of Student Minds on Facebook.


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