University Mental Health Day falls on 7th March 2019, and the campaign this year is all about the power of using your voice. The importance of communication is something repeatedly highlighted when discussing mental health, yet we can’t underestimate how difficult it is for people struggling with their mental wellbeing to ‘open up’. The feeling of guilt, not wanting to ‘bring people down’ or sounding ungrateful are all possible reasons for not sharing problems with your mental health. Therefore, the more awareness of just how important it is for people to use their voice and share how they feel, the better.
“As fantastic as it is to have a week of the academic year dedicated to focussing on our mental health, this should be something people are aware of all year round”
The University of Nottingham is putting on a weeklong series of events, from mindfulness sessions, conversation cafes and a film night (full itinerary can be found on the University of Nottingham website). As fantastic as it is to have a week of the academic year dedicated to focussing on our mental health, this should be something people are aware of all year round. It should be a priority for universities, given the troubles, stresses and difficulties students can face.
Moving away from home, meeting new people, stretching your academic capabilities are all brilliant achievements yet can bring emotional strain. Without realising, you can find yourself sinking, in deadlines and responsibilities, social scenarios and new places. It isn’t that the water isn’t pleasant, sometimes it can be beautifully warm. But that is not the point. Even too much of a good thing can make treading water incredibly difficult, tiresome and isolating.
Feeling like you are the only person suffering must be one of the worse feelings – seeing everyone happily swimming ahead, seemingly unphased. Yet, beneath the surface, we all are having similar struggles. Therefore, by having days that focus purely on our Mental Health and encourage people to use their voice and share their experiences, we can help to keep others afloat.
“the hardest part is often ‘opening up’ about the struggles you are facing and addressing the fact that you need help”
There are many different channels you can venture down if looking for some guidance, help or support with your mental health. From going to the GP, to online Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) sessions. Everyone’s needs will be slightly different, and so don’t let yourself or a friend be disheartened if the approach they are taking doesn’t take immediate effect. Regular exercise, a healthy diet and enough sleep are also proven to positively affect your mental wellbeing.
However, for some people, further steps will need to be taken and that can be incredibly challenging. As cliché as it sounds, the hardest part is often ‘opening up’ about the struggles you are facing and addressing the fact that you need help. This in no part makes you a failure, or weak, or self-centred. It means you are brave, determined and pro-active. You would go to the doctors with a bad back or a sprained ankle; you wouldn’t expect them to magically heal on their own and certainly wouldn’t be ashamed or embarrassed to admit to them. The same should be applied when considering mental health.
Your mental health should be consciously taken care of even if you feel positive and well within yourself. Wellbeing practices and meditation are becoming more culturally prominent and are a great way to relieve stress and encourage a positive outlook. Don’t underestimate the importance of looking after yourself, take some time out of your day and focus on how you are feeling. Take a bath, read a book, go for a walk. Find small windows of time which can help to bring some peace into your day.
“Use your voice and you might just reach that person who needs to hear it the most”
Luckily, mental health is being increasingly spoken about and movements are being set up to end the stigma surrounding it. Yet more can always be done, especially for students. It could take just one person to speak about their experiences with mental health to cause a domino effect which perhaps reaches that one person who really needs to hear it. They realise that they aren’t alone. So, talk. Talk to your friends, talk to your colleagues, talk to your families, talk to trained health care professionals. Use your voice and you might just reach that person who needs to hear it the most.
Below are some useful resources – to visit, to share and to help:
Information on University Mental Health Day- https://www.unimentalhealthday.co.uk/