Mental health is an issue that affects us all in various different ways, whether that be through personal experiences, or the understanding of a friend or relative who has undergone some difficulty, we can all relate in one way or another. However, despite it clearly being a prevalent issue in today’s society, it is still treated as rather a ‘taboo’ subject. No one should ever be made to feel as though what they’re feeling isn’t ‘legitimate’ purely because the symptoms may not be visibly discernible. There’s so many ways we can help work towards a better framework of support for those who need it.
Next week on Wednesday 18th February it is University Mental Health Day. This annual event, created by the charity Student Minds, aims to promote the mental health of those who live and work in academia, both students and staff. It forms part of the wider effort to end the social stigma associated with mental health. As well as this, the Mental Health Matters Society has been working endlessly to help alter this perception too, by organising various different activities as part of the ‘#LetsTalk’ and ‘TimetoTalk’ campaign, a programme led by Time to Change. By getting involved in some of the events hosted by the MHM society, or simply by taking the time to discuss mental illness for less than five minutes, we are helping to raise awareness of the topic, and that is the first step to ensuring people who experience a mental illness of some form are able to actively seek support without feeling victimised.
On Tuesday 10th March the MHM society will be teaming up with BME Students’ Committee and Paksoc Sheffield to discuss issues relating to the stigma associated with mental health. The event, ‘Why don’t we talk about mental health?’, will be held in Coffee Revolution (inside the SU) at 7pm, and it’s open for everyone to attend, so if you’re free you should definitely head down.
If you feel as though things aren’t quite going too well, or everything seems to be getting a bit too much, there is support available and people you can turn to for advice. The University has its own counselling service, which, I know, may seem a little bit daunting, the idea of talking to a complete stranger about your most personal thoughts, but to share your feelings sometimes is such a useful way of just getting things off your chest. If you’re not too keen on the idea of talking face-to-face with someone, though there is also a student-run listening and information service called Nightline that is open from 8pm to 8am. It is completely confidential and you can talk to them about anything at all.
Look after yourself at university. We are all at a point in our lives where huge changes are happening, forcing us to adjust to new environments, meet new people, take control and be independent. It isn’t easy, but things will work out. I usually find tea is the cure to most of my problems. Do not underestimate its abilities. Also custard creams, but, alas, I’m trying to give them up (Not that I’m getting anywhere with this goal – literally just ten minutes ago I ate four and a half custard creams and two Jaffa Cakes. I just can’t stop.)