World Mental Health Day  

For World Mental Health Day, we’re talking to our students about their experience of mental health and how physical activity and programmes like Healthy Minds has helped them cope with different situations.  

Bethany Hickton is a 25-year-old PhD student in her third year, studying aerospace engineering and cellular and molecular medicine.  

‘It’s pretty intense,’ she says with a laugh. ‘I’d really like to become a chief scientific officer — someone who travels around the world looking at complex scientific issues, and then explains it to government so they can make policy changes.’ 

But her dreams were nearly shattered when she slipped and fell down a flight of steps in her first year.  

‘I’d always been a very hard worker throughout my undergrad and since my A-levels,’ she says. ‘I never stopped, so having to take that time out gave me a lot of anxiety. Also, the fractures were five millimetres from severing my spinal cord. I could have been paralysed from the waist down.’ 

Bethany spent 16 weeks in a spinal brace and, a few months after the fall, she was also diagnosed with clinical depression.  

‘I got PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) coming back onto campus, because that’s where I’d hurt myself. Having to take time out physically really had an impact on me mentally.’ 

Bethany didn’t come from a sporting background and says she’d never have thought of trying sports on her own.  

‘I wasn’t sporty when I was younger – I lived in a small village where there wasn’t a lot of opportunity. People in school also made fun of me about my size, which was difficult to deal with. I really lost confidence, which made me eat more too.’ 

After her fall and her diagnosis, Bethany began seeing a counsellor with the Student Counselling Service where she was referred to the Healthy Minds programme.  

‘They told me about this amazing programme which was all about body confidence and having fun. Pete from Healthy Minds got me to lift weights and, out of nowhere, I was good at it. It was such a joyous moment.’ 

Bethany understands the pressure on young people today to look good, coming from social media, especially platforms like Instagram.  

‘I now judge my body on what it can do, not what it looks like. I can deadlift 80 kilograms, I can walk straight into the weights section of the gym, which used to be full of just guys, in my glittery pink sneakers and I can out-lift lots of them.’ 

She says Healthy Minds helped her to find an activity that really suited her, and she really enjoyed.

‘They helped me take the driving seat on getting healthy. Pete noticed I was good at lifting weights, and he signposted me to the captain of the rugby team.’ She now plays in the women’s rugby team as a  scrum forward.  

What advice would Bethany give new students who have just arrived and are trying to settle in?  

‘Find a group of people that are your people. Try and join different societies – it doesn’t have to be a sporty one, and just try lots of different things. You’ll find the crowd that you can run with.’ 

Express yourself 

Come along to the Indoor Sports Centre tomorrow (Wednesday 10 October) and take part in free exercise classes as well as a workshop with a print artist Annie Nicholson, aka The Fandangoe Kid. 

In 2011, Annie lost her mother and sister in a car crash. ‘Nothing has been the same since. For years I was completely derailed – it was sharing my thoughts in a public space that got me through.’ 

The artist says her public art is also designed to help remove the stigma that still exists around loss, mental health, and happiness.  

Annie will be hosting a workshop for 20 people and will begin by exploring the different concepts of narrative art, and how it can be used to express yourself. There’s even an opportunity for the art you create go on display on campus. 

Places are limited, and booking is essential.

Emily’s self-care tips

Emily’s back with some top tips for life after Welcome Week.

So Welcome Week has come to an end… what now? You’re actually here and things are getting real. It might seem daunting but I’m here to give you five self-care tips which might make things that little bit easier.

1. Go outside.
Bristol is renowned for its urban green environment. Why not go for a walk? You could get to know the campus to familiarise yourself with lecture venues.

Spotlight: Ashton Court.

Ashton Court offers 850 acres of land to explore. If you want some fresh air, this is where to go. Also, Ashton Court is a popular spot for dogs, so if you need a dog fix then this is the place for you!

2. Get some rest.
Put on your cosiest pyjamas, unwind with a nice warm drink and go to sleep! Can’t sleep? Read (don’t go on your phone! It doesn’t help!). Read something with no link to your academic studies, something which relaxes you. If the things you must do the next day are keeping you awake then write a list before bed, that way you know you won’t forget! Don’t feel bad about having some downtime.

3. Baking on a budget is not only easy but stress relieving. Why not bake a big dish for your flat mates? Not only is this a nice gesture but then you can all enjoy it together. Make sure you get some good food in that dish, that little bit of veg is going to make you feel so much better.

4. Organise!
If you don’t know what to do with yourself, why not make sure that your room is arranged in a way that works for you. You could create a timetable to give yourself some consistency in your new life at uni (you don’t have to follow it with great precision, it’s just nice to have some stability when you’re having a bad day). Here’s an example of mine…

5. So, you’ve followed all the advice and things still don’t seem right? Its okay to ask for help.
There are loads of ways you can get the support you need, from friends and family to university services. When things got tough for me – I talked to the uni which I personally found really helpful. At the end of the day, you know yourself. If things don’t seem right, speak up.

Self-care is laying the foundations for the life you want to live, make sure you’re living your best life in Bristol.

 

At Bristol you are not on your own, there is always someone to support you; in our residences, academic schools and on campus. It’s ok to not be ok – talk to us, we’re here to help.

bristol.ac.uk/students/wellbeing/

Behind the scenes at Bristol Students’ Union

Bristol Students’ Union (SU) represents students, provides advice and guidance and put on a whole range of events for students to socialise and try new things.

The Richmond Building, home to Bristol SU

We caught up with some of the Communications and Engagement team to find out how they’re preparing for Welcome Week 2018.

Jess working on the Welcome Guide

Jess Augarde is the SU’s Multimedia Designer and you’ll be seeing loads of her work around during Welcome Week.

‘I worked with a local illustrator to get the creative look for Welcome Week 2018 together and then spent a lot of time cutting out images in illustrator to make the cool graphics you’ll have seen on our social media already and will see when you get to Bristol. I loved working on the Welcome Guide and loved seeing a video from our printers of the guide rolling off the presses!

When it comes to Welcome Week, I love heading out to the events with my camera and always get some great photos, particularly at the Welcome Fair.’

Nicola Haydon

Nicola Haydon, Communications Executive, works on the SU’s campaigns and content.

‘This year we’re collaborating with different societies on the films we’re screening each evening in the Balloon Bar, including a double bill organised by the Chinese Society. I love the Welcome

Fair, it’s a really nice atmosphere. It’s great to see what current students are doing and to see new students get excited about everything they can get involved with.

My advice for new students is to make the most of all the events. There really is something for everyone, whatever you’re interested in and it’s a great introduction to all the societies and activities available at Bristol.

We’re welcoming some big names to Bristol for our headline Club Tropicana event with Nick Grimshaw and Mistajam as well as plenty of local DJs to give you a flavour of Bristol’s night life.’ There are limited tickets available so snap yours up here!’

Bristol SU arrange a packed schedule of Welcome Week events; from club nights to plant potting, there’s something for everyone! Take a look at what’s on and get your tickets now.

 

And what about after Welcome Week? Your SU needs you!

Election nominations open during Welcome Week and they’re looking for first year course reps, JCR reps and NUS delegates. Find out more about these roles and how to stand for election at bristolsu.org.uk/elections.

For more information about the Students’ Union, visit bristolsu.org.uk.

Find Your Mayor! Get involved and join the debate.

The Mayor of Bristol, Marvin Rees, is hosting the next Global Parliament of Mayors meeting in Bristol and you can be part of it too.

City Hall

This is a great opportunity for you to gain exclusive access to the Parliamentary Forum and meet city leaders from around the world.

Apply to become a student ambassador and:

  • Act as a host for your assigned global Mayor;
  • Help them with queries and escort them to seminars;
  • Meet other student ambassadors and influence the debate.

You will also be invited to attend the closing ceremony where you will receive an official Certificate of Excellence and Leadership and have an opportunity to be photographed with your Mayor.

When is it?

The summit is held between 21-23 October and this year’s theme is Empowering Cities as Drivers of Change. The discussions are wide ranging from migration, health and climate change to urban security.

What do I do next?

Find out more and apply before 4 October.

My Welcome Week experience

Hi, I’m Em!

I’m a seasoned Bristolian, so despite the fact that I have only just finished my first year at Bristol, I have a lot of Bristol experience to share with you to make sure you get the best experience in Bristol as you possibly can.

A little background on me

I just finished my first year studying Philosophy but I’m changing my degree and now I’m going into my first year studying Religion and Theology.

I’ve lived in Bristol for 19 years and am still not tired of it.

Today I’m going to share with you my Welcome Week experience.

Thekla

University and clubbing are synonymous with each other, this might mean that you have to go out of your comfort zone but that’s okay! Hundreds of other people will be doing exactly the same thing.  Last year, I mainly went to venues like Thekla and The Lanes. However, there’s loads of information online regarding the theme of each night so make sure that you have a look! I didn’t go out loads, and I still met some great friends.

Not a drinker?

I went to loads of events last year that don’t involve drink. For example, I went on a coffee shop crawl where instead of drinking beer, you drink coffee! There’s also loads of amazing food in Bristol, as a vegan I never struggle to find options which is obviously a plus. If you are unsure about what you can do, check out the SU’s guide to alternative and non-drinking events.

My welcome week peak (the good kind):

For me, as a Bristolian, the welcome ceremony was very special. I never thought that I would get into a Russell Group uni. In fact, I went to a below average secondary school/ sixth form combined and had my prom at the Marriot at the bottom of Park Street so, to be at this grand ceremony at the top of the big hill was very symbolic for me. I had to climb and fight to get into Bristol, just like you will need to climb and fight from getting to the bottom of Park Street to the top!

What I would change?

People always say that Welcome Week is your chance to really get involved, and that was a scary prospect for me. I suffer with a few different mental health difficulties so being a social butterfly is not second nature for me. But, your first week does not discriminate, there will be many other anxious people there and there will many people who want to say hello to you.

My one piece of advice is to be the person you want to be friends with. Also, don’t stress about making friends, it will happen but to be honest, the friends you make in Welcome Week might not be your uni-long best friends. So just relax and have a great week!

It’s time to Find Your Bristol!

Congratulations on getting your place at the University of Bristol! We’re really looking forward to welcoming you and hope you are excited about becoming part of our community. 

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing advice from staff and students here at Bristol to help you prepare for life as a university student and get excited about our beautiful and unique city.

Five things you can do now 

What are you looking forward to most about Uni? 

Share your first Bristol experiences with us using #FindYourBristol and give us a follow to stay up-to-date with Uni news, student stories and all the most entertaining and enlightening events. We’re on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. 

Subscribe By Email

Get every new post delivered right to your inbox.

Please prove that you are not a robot.