Gemma Weston (she/her), who is running for Welfare Officer for the 2022/23 academic year, was recently interviewed by Impact’s Grace Cloughton (she/her) on her candidacy.
Q1) You said your main aim is to encourage the progression of Project Period, why is this important to you and how do you aim to do this?
I heard it was a project that was run, or started at least, by the Welfare Officer last year and it’s something that I wanted to continue the progress of. The school that I went to had a similar project that worked really well, especially for some of my friends at least – it really helped them out.
Seeing how some other universities have implemented this scheme – Belfast, Worcestershire, and Lincoln – it has really helped out students. I thought it would be really helpful and I want to try to make it more permanent.
“My campaign is mainly about helping students help themselves“
Q2) Similar to my last question, how do you aim on supporting Nightline and Student Minds Nottingham? Will you be introducing anything new to spread awareness for the three organisations we have mentioned?
I am hoping on being more involved with the people who run them and use the platforms I aim to start. Just get more awareness for students about these platforms.
Also, the funding and check the funding they are currently getting, making sure they are getting the right resources they need because my campaign is mainly about helping students help themselves. So, spreading awareness, education, making sure everyone is aware and then they can take the steps.
Q3) You mentioned that you want to help students embrace their ‘creative side by starting a two-year long project’. I have a few questions on this aspiration:
– Why do you think creativity aligns well with mental health?
Everyone talks about mindfulness and that kind of thing when linked to mental health so I think it is important especially when are academic studies are so focused on having to have a careers prospect and always being productive even in your hobbies, being productive and always working towards that, people lose sight of their creative side and encouraging that, because it is good for our mental wellbeing, that we know of and giving them an opportunity to explore that more.
– Why did you choose two years to complete this project?
That’s the amount of time I have set aside for it as I don’t want it to be a rushed thing. I think a year is a good amount of time in order to set up the logistics of everything, make the connections you need in order to be able to provide these professional workshops for students.
“Being able to share less well-known strategies could really help other people“
Q4) Your online platform is a very interesting proposal, what made you come up with this idea?
Mental health is obviously spoken about quite a lot now a days but it’s the same things we hear over again about mindfulness, colouring etc. Obviously, that’s not for everyone and everyone finds different things that work best for them.
Being able to share less well-known strategies could really help other people, if they are deterred away from the stereotypical activities then they might just give up altogether rather than actually seeing what else they could do.
– How do you aim on monitoring the chat forum?
That is definitely something I am going to have to look into, because it is anonymous, we do have to monitor that in some way to make sure nothing negative comes out of it.
Q5) Obviously you’re quite young, although you have exhibited a range of ways you have previously helped support younger pupils, how do you aim on offering support to students older than you and a range of mature students?
Definitely having those conversations with the postgrad officer. I am trying to open up my knowledge of people’s perspectives. Hopefully, the online platform will enable students to spread awareness of what people are going through, so they don’t feel alone.
“There are gender differences and expectations and there are barriers in that that we can’t ignore do need to be addressed“
Q6) Finally, how do you aim on supporting male mental health? I understand you said you would ‘spread awareness of mental health in sport, particularly in men’s health,’ but how do you aim to provide support for men generally? And those who don’t play sport specifically?
I understand it is not just sport, that is a very stereotypical thing. I know there isn’t a men’s society, as there is with the woman’s, but I am not sure how people would feel about that.
Having some form of platform, whether we can integrate the online platform so that men can share their feelings and get them across in a way they can feel comfortable again with the anonymity. I understand that whilst everyone has different experiences, there are gender differences and expectations and there are barriers in that that we can’t ignore do need to be addressed.
Again, doing more research and talking to more men and seeing what effects them and what they would want to do about it.
Voting for the 2022 SU elections closes at 1pm on Friday 25th March.
You can read Gemma’s manifesto and vote in the elections here.
Featured image courtesy of Chiara Crompton. Permission to use granted to Impact. No changes were made to this image.
In-article image courtesy of Max Harries. Permission to use granted to Impact. No changes were made to this image.
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