Mental health includes our emotions and our psychological and social wellbeing. It can affect how we think, feel, behave, and determines how we handle stress, make decisions or approach relationships. We all have mental health and we can all experience challenges with our mental health at different times in our lives.
The theme for this year’s World Mental Health Day is Mental Health in an Unequal World. Because whilst absolutely anyone can suffer from a mental health problem, access to mental health support is not equally available and can be affected by where we live or who we are.
One thing we can all do to support those around us is to start to talk about mental health. The NHS has come up with some tips to help:
Top things you can do to help others
Express concern and say you can help
Letting someone know you’re worried is a good way to open up a conversation – it shows you care about the person, have time for them and that they do not have to avoid things with you.
Act as you usually do together
Do what you usually do – behaving differently can make someone feel more isolated. Do not be afraid to offer kind words and a space to talk, whether by phone, messaging or in person.
The first time someone mentions their worries is a big step. It’s good to recognise this and reassure them. Let them know you’re there to listen when they need to talk.
Offer your time to listen
Listening is an important skill. Ask open questions that start with “how”, “what”, “where” or “when”. This can help people open up.
You will not always know the full story. There may be reasons why they have found it difficult to ask for help. Just being there can be helpful for someone who may want to open up later.
If they do not want support
Gently explore their reasons for not wanting to get support. If they are unsure whether to get help, just talking and listening without judgement could help work out what’s getting in the way.
Do not force it
Do not force someone to talk to you or get help, and do not go to a doctor on their behalf. This may lead to them feeling uncomfortable, with less power and less able to speak for themselves.
Look after yourself
It can be upsetting to hear someone you care about in distress. Be kind to yourself and take some time to relax or do something you enjoy.
Offer practical help
Little acts of kindness – like offering to do the shopping or to go to professional appointments with them – can help. Find out what works for them.
Wellbeing support at the University
Everyone recognises that the last 18 months have been very hard and has affected us all differently. As you start your studies you may feel that you struggle to get started or settle in and that’s perfectly normal. There are many resources available to help, and we’ve taken time and feedback from students to recommend some that can be found online here – http://www.bristol.ac.uk/students/support/wellbeing/
But just to highlight a few in particular:
There is a lot you can do to help manage your own mental health – https://www.bristol.ac.uk/students/support/wellbeing/self-help/
It’s also important to call out those who negatively affect our mental health – https://www.bristol.ac.uk/students/support/wellbeing/report-unacceptable-behaviour/
PROJECT:TALK is running a Mental Fitness Fair in the Anson Rooms (11-2 pm on 23 October) and they also offer one to one peer support if you can’t attend the fair – https://www.projecttalk.org.uk/bristol-peer-support
Student Minds also has a lot of resources available for mental wellbeing.
If you or a friend are facing a mental health emergency, there is always help available here – http://www.bristol.ac.uk/students/support/wellbeing/emergency-help/
Finally, don’t forget to celebrate the reasons you are at university, reflect on your individual journey and recognise that getting to where you are now is a huge achievement!
How to Thrive at University (Sessions on 14th October and 29th October)
Designed to help you hopefully improve a variety of areas. The sessions will cover:
- Basic Anxiety Management (breathing exercise + when to use it).
- Basic managing procrastination
- Time Management
- Finding balance with Work/life
- Breathing exercise to help improve general wellbeing
How to Improve Self-Esteem (Session on 20th October)
This workshop will help you to understand how self-esteem is formed and how it can impact on behaviour. We will help you to develop techniques to help you improve and maintain self-esteem
Managing Perfectionism (Sessions on 13th October & 28th October)
This 1-hour interactive workshop will cover:
- What is Perfectionism?
- How and when it becomes a problem
- Healthy Striving as an alternative
- Understanding and challenging our thought processes
- Sharing ideas and strategies to achieve a balanced outcome
Relaxation (Session on 26th October)
This workshop will teach you the importance of Relaxation, and provide you with techniques to aid your studies and help manage anxiety.
November (not yet bookable):
Managing and Maintaining Mental Health
This workshop is for students who have had a recent diagnosis of a mental health condition, or who experience symptoms of depression, anxiety, or panic with some regularity. It is designed to help you learn how to manage your unique mental health condition so that you can live a healthy life without your condition becoming a barrier. The workshop is designed to help you with:
- Understanding the illness, you have
- Understanding YOUR illness
- Getting to know yourself
- Your Safety Nets
- Reviewing and Changing as you grow
Managing Exam Stress
This workshop will examine typical responses to exam stress and identify and explore coping techniques to help manage challenging feelings. It will also explore the concept of stress, how we can effectively recognise our optimal performance level and how to practice self-care throughout an exam period.