Get ahead of worries this World Mental Health Day

Written by Dr Dominique Thompson

Starting university is always a big moment in life, but in 2020 it’s going to be a historic moment too. Living in a new institution, perhaps a new city, in a global pandemic certainly adds an edge to the whole process.  

So if you are feeling a little stressed (which would be entirely normal) help is at hand and you may find the new, free, online course that I helped to create, ‘Being Well Living Well’, very useful indeed.  

I was the lead GP at the University of Bristol for many years, and now spend my professional life creating useful resources to support students and their wellbeing. I’m really proud to have been the UK lead advisor for this online course, which will be available to Bristol students. 

In developing the course, we worked closely with students and professionals from all over the world, and I personally wrote the ‘Stress, Anxiety and Depression’ module based on all my years of experience and expertise looking after Bristol students.

It was really important to me to try to help future students to ‘get ahead’ of worries, understand what was happening for them, and provide really practical suggestions about how to manage anxiety or low mood. Whether you are feeling on edge, sleeping badly, want to understand if you have anxiety or depression, or wish to support a friend who is struggling, you will find the ‘Stress, Anxiety and Depression’ module helpful.

I hope you will enjoy the animations and interactive quizzes and activities which we, and our student co-creators, felt made our advice clearer and more engaging. We also ensured a diverse range of students were represented and provided for in the course.

The other modules that make up ‘Being Well Living Well’ cover a whole array of issues that students can find challenging, from perfectionism, financial worries, how to study effectively and mental health problems. There will be something to help everyone within the course.

So whether you’re just curious, or struggling – we made this for you.

You can access Being Well Living Well on Blackboard – self enrol here

 

How our community are being kind during lockdown

Every May we in the United Kingdom celebrate and observe Mental Health Awareness Week. It is a chance to raise awareness of mental health problems and the importance of taking care of ourselves. It is an opportunity to inspire action, share experiences, and end the stigma that still surrounds mental health.

This year’s theme is kindness. Being kind to ourselves, being kind to others and being kind to our communities and planet.

In honour of Mental Health Awareness Week, last week we asked our Instagram followers to share with us how they are practising kindness during lockdown, here are some of their responses, and some tips if you want to do similar things.

Giving food and blankets to homeless people

Understandably the current situation with COVID-19 is difficult and stressful for everyone. We miss normality, our family, our friends, travelling, getting haircuts etc. However this situation is also incredibly stressful for some of our more vulnerable members of society, particularly the homeless. If you feel that you would like to, or are in a position where you are able to, donate food and blankets in your local communities, that can be a great way of spreading kindness. Likewise, if donating money is something that you are able or would like to do, take a look at the following charities who are working hard in Bristol, in the UK and internationally.

Caring in Bristol – Caring in Bristol work in imaginative and creative ways with people experiencing or at risk of homelessness, with the public and community partners to bring about lasting change in Bristol and beyond.

Shelter UK – Shelter helps millions of people every year struggling with bad housing or homelessness through our advice, support and legal services.

Habitat for Humanity – As an international charity fighting world poverty and homelessness, Habitat’s  vision is a world where everyone has a safe place to call home. They believe that a decent home helps to permanently break the cycle of poverty and allows families to achieve strength, stability, and self-reliance.

Also there are a bunch of really cool comedy shows and online quizzes that donate a portion of your ‘e-ticket’ to charity.

Cooking meals and snacks for loved ones and key workers

 

If you enjoy cooking, are trying to cook more during lockdown, or simply are bored of takeaways, the making and sharing of food is a great way to show kindness to yourself and others.

Jack Monroe has a range of recipes on their website that can cater (pun intended) to those of us who may be on tight budgets, lack time or only have access to a microwave, whether you are a meat eater, vegetarian, vegan, or gluten free. Visit their website and see what you can cook.

Check out our previous blog post where second year History student Elaura shares her yummy ginger biscuit recipe.

The BBC Good Food website also has a section specifically designed for students, the meals are quick and cheap to make, and definitely worth a try.

Making an effort to talk to everyone

Having a quick (distanced) chat or even a “good morning!” with someone you pass in the street, park or shop can really brighten up your or their day. Of course, conversations with a stranger can’t replace the face to face contact with friends and family but it could make you feel a bit better and decrease loneliness slightly.

In the UK, we celebrate once a week with a “clap for carers“. People go to their front doors and clap in the street for a minute to show their appreciation for carers during this time. If you take part in this or there is something similar taking place in your home country, why not speak to your neighbours after and see how they are doing.

If there are elderly people in your area then you could become a neighbourly volunteer with Age UK. Volunteers can help as much or as little as they like. Just offering a phone call once a week to someone staying at home during the outbreak could mean a lot.

Other acts of kindness students shared with us include:

  • Checking in with family and friends

  • Sending cards to tutors

  • Sharing one positive thought a day

  • Shopping locally and supporting small businesses

For more kindness stories from across the UK, head over to the Mental Health Foundation website.

Mental health in lockdown

The world feels very strange at the moment, and undoubtedly the uncertainty about the length of the lockdown, our health and that of our loved ones, access to pasta and toilet paper etc., is cause for anxiety. 

Here are some tips and tricks that may ease or help you manage your worries during this time.   

Meditate

Mediation may bring forth images of incense sticks, swaths of tie-dye and people chanting. This is sometimes the case. But meditation, in essence, is simply a practise where through mindfulness or focusing on a particular thought, to achieve a calm and stable mindset. 

Just taking out 2 minutes out of your day to sit with your thoughts and breathe can be very helpful. Perhaps initially the idea of sitting doing nothing may seem odd when there is so much going on in the world, but it is important to make time for yourself and your mental health, now more than ever. 

Websites such as Headspace and Calm have resources that can get you started. There are also great videos on YouTube that can be accessed for free, such as this one

Our Multifaith Chaplaincy is also offering daily meditation in both the morning and the evening. More information can be found here.

Stop watching the news

We all want to be informed and we all want answers. But if watching the daily news is getting you down, please stop watching it. That goes for reading newspapers, watching news programmes, and to some extent consuming social media. 

This is not to say that you should delete your social media accounts or remove the apps from your phone, because not only are these fantastic channels to communicate with people around the world while we are in lockdown, but we also deserve memes and dog videos at the moment. But consider muting keywords that will bring up posts that will negatively affect you. 

Instead seek out good news such as John Krasinski’s (Jim from the US Office, Jack Ryan etc.) YouTube show ‘Some Good News’ or follow the Uplifting News thread on Reddit.

 

Take advantage of this time

You may not be feeling productive in this time and that is okay. However, try to appreciate that we may now have more time to do things that we enjoy which can be really good for our mental health. So whether that is watching films, binge-watching tv series and making wearing pyjamas, or learning a new skill or behaviour, appreciate this strange pause in time and discover or reignite some hobbies. 

But if you want to be more productive in this time, you could start by making yourself a list of achievable goals to accomplish each day e.g. making the bed, getting some fresh air, spending a set amount of time doing revision. You could also create a ‘ta-da list’, which is like a reverse to-do list – at the end of each day make a note of all the things you did that day no matter how small, and you’ll soon see how much you do without even thinking about it. 

Reach out

There isn’t a guidebook for dealing with the sort of situation we are in now, it would be great if there were. But one thing is clear, we are all in this together. So reach out to your nearest and dearest, send text messages, FaceTime, Whatsapp, go old school and send care packages and handwritten letters, take part in zoom quizzes, virtual coffee chats and share all the memes the internet has to offer.

 

24/7 wellbeing services available for those in need of support

In these strange and uncertain times, it’s understandable that many of you will be feeling anxious, sad or even a little bit scared, which can be tough to say out loud. Don’t forget that there are many support services out there for you, with some offering a listening ear 24/7. 

TalkCampus 

TalkCampus is here if you need someone to talk to, about anything, anywhere, at anytime. The app enables you to message fellow students from all over the world, day and night. You can share your worries and thoughts with those going through the exact same struggles as you. 

This is a safe place where you can talk anonymously and get support for your mental health and whatever is on your mind. 

Download TalkCampus for free today using your University email address and make things a little bit easier. 

Alongside the app, TalkCampus have added 18 self-guide meditations for you on their Soundcloud, with a blog to supplement them. 

Big White Wall 

People come to Big White Wall for support with a range of mental health and wellbeing issues – from anxiety, depression, stress, to lifestyle changes and relationships problems. This digital support and recovery service provides an anonymous online community for you to share your thoughts and feelings with others who may share the same troubles.  

This safe space is monitored by trained professionals who are available 24/7. There are also lots of resources and learning activities available to help you deal with a variety of difficulties and challenges. 

Use Big White Wall today and receive support from an online community day and night. 

Shout Crisis Messenger 

Shout is a UK text service for anyone who needs to talk. It’s a place to go if you’re struggling to cope and you need immediate help. The service is available 24/7, with a team of volunteers helping those in need to go from crisis to calm. 

Text Bristol to 85258 to be connected to a trained volunteer. 

If you feel you need further support than what is offered above, head over to the Wellbeing pages to find further resources and services.  

 

Staying active while staying put

We’ve been in lockdown for nearly 4 weeks now, so understandably some of us may be feeling a little cooped up. Staying active, even for 30 mins a day or less, will give big benefits to our fitness, and overall health and wellbeing. At a time when so much is happening that we can’t control, putting things in place for yourself that you can rely on become even more important. Here are our top tips for staying active while staying put. All of these activities can be done in very small spaces, and with a minimum amount of equipment, so give them a go!

What you’ll need:

  • A yoga mat. If you don’t have one, a towel will do the trick as well.
  • Make-do weights. Use books, water bottles – anything you can get your hands on.
  • Resistance bands. If you don’t have anything to hand, you can do these moves perfectly well without them.
  • Plenty of water. This one’s crucial. Hydration is key so make sure you have plenty of water to hand.

Now to get you started – here’s some inspiration to get you moving, right in your living room:

Exercise regularly

Put in a schedule in place for yourself to exercise regularly throughout the week. Don’t beat yourself up if you miss a session though; there is a lot happening right now that’s hard to keep up with. As long as you put in an effort to exercise as much as you can, you’ll still get massive benefits.

Reach out to your wellness community

Link up with your friends and family via Skype, Zoom, WhatsApp or Facetime, so you can work out together, if you’re home alone. You’ll be much more motivated to stick with something if you’re doing it together.

Try something new 

Have you always been a runner, or a cyclist? While you can still strap on your trainers and keep doing just that, consider using this time to do lots of core strengthening exercises / yoga to increase your flexibility and avoid injuries.

Find something for you

There is so much out there for you to try, from Yin Yoga (which is very slow-paced and very restorative), to very intensive HIIT classes that include lots of high-intensity exercises that can be performed on the spot.

Look at what suits you – and just start, somewhere

Don’t feel bad if you’re not performing like a fully-fledged athlete right off the bat. Fitness has to be built up. There are amazing services out there that will help you, and that are hosting online sessions delivered by local providers. Try MoveGB, FIIT or Freeletics. Make sure you share your experiences too, so people can find out more about them that way too.

Be patient and kind to yourself

Don’t try and do too much, all at once, especially if you’re new to regular exercise. Take it slow, especially at the start of your new exercise programme, and build up very slowly. There are lots of modifications that you can do to make exercises more accessible for you. As always, if you have any underlying health conditions that prevent you from exercising or aren’t feeling well – give high intensity exercise a rest for a while!

We’d like to pull together exercise activities for you to keep you moving – what would you like to see? Tell us what would help you staying active while staying put.

Self-Isolation: A final year’s guide to coping

Hello everyone, my name is Kiki and I’m a final year student at UOB. I’m writing this blog to reach out to students during isolation. I am sure that this is a very anxious and stressful time for many of you. Being a final year student, my whole education has been turned upside down and I have no choice but to try and respond to it in the calmest way possible.

I am sure many of you will have heard a lot of advice on ways to stay sane, so I have included general advice at the end for anyone interested. I’m hoping however, that if you’re reading this, you’ll gain an insight into something that may help you during these incredibly challenging times as these are some of the methods that are helping me to remain positive and calm.


Staying as productive as is possible for YOU
The first thing I can recommend to students in to stay as productive as is possible for YOU. Of course, everyone’s individual situation is completely different and you have to evaluate what works for you and what things you feel you can do, and if that means simply staying in bed, relaxing and watching Netflix all day, there is nothing wrong with it!!

Listen to what your body and mind really need right now and don’t compare this to anyone else. Your situation is individual, as are your needs and you need to honour this in a way that is right for you.

That being said, I have found that creating a routine and checking off potential tasks really helps to keep me grounded and it gives a sense of normality and accomplishment that most of us seek in normal daily life. Here are some tips of what I have been trying to do to stop myself from falling into a slump. You have never and probably will never have more time than you do right now, so it’s a great time to get started on tasks/hobbies/goals that you may have otherwise pushed aside and focus on yourself.

TIP: Figure out the tasks you wish to complete and group them in a table:

1. Make a list of all the things you ideally wish to achieve in quarantine
2. Subgroup them e.g Work, Education, Fitness and Health, Hobbies, Helping Others, Self-Care, Chill (any category that works for you).
3. Make a table with the days of the week across the top and on the left-hand side write the different tasks/activities/goals. Upon completion tick off what you have done.
(I personally like to summarise the success of my task with a face or a comment so that when it comes to tracking my progression, I can clearly see how I felt after.)
4. At the end of the week look back on everything you have achieved and feel proud at anything that you may have
completed, even if it’s just one task!!

And Remember: It is ok and normal to feel stressed, demotivated, anxious and worried. You wouldn’t be human if you didn’t. However, putting into practice techniques such as these to measure productivity gives you a sense of purpose during this time when our purpose may feel compromised. You don’t have to spend every second doing something productive, nor every day. Visually seeing your achievements at the end of the week, however big or small, will motivate you to get up every day and keep going.


Do something to calm the mind
If like me, you suffer from anxiety, you will have days where you feel overwhelmed, agitated and distressed. It is difficult managing anxiety on a daily basis let alone amidst a global crisis. Every time I feel myself falling into a pattern of anxiousness or negativity, I remind myself that what is currently happening will pass. Of course, my parents’ obsession with the news is somewhat unhealthy and I do find myself sitting in the living room being sucked in by the negative and distressing impact of this crisis, which we are all very much aware of.

Whilst it is very important to keep up to date with the news and what is going on, it is important that we use the news to inform us and not consume us. Watch and read the necessary but don’t spend hours scrolling through stats or articles because this will not be beneficial to your mental health. This is not helpful to you or those around you. We need to remain positive in our lives, not just for our mental health, but for the sake of others too.

I too have been sceptical of some of these methods in the past. Being very inflexible and not understanding the practice meant that when trying yoga in the past, I was very impatient and quick to rule it out. However, after having a knee injury for a year, I found that the only active thing I could do for a while was yoga and so I decided to give it a second chance. I found myself not forcing myself to go but actually craving the session, because of how it made me feel after. Calm, stable and relaxed. And who doesn’t want to feel like this, especially in times like these.

What I love about yoga is that you really can start from anywhere (take it from me) and once you see progression, it motivates you to continue. It has helped me to learn about and appreciate my body even more and I can definitely see improvements in my body. My knee is strengthening, my posture is improving and my mind is healing.

Yoga itself incorporates meditation into its practice. Meditation is literally about focusing your mind on the body and the present moment and what better way to engage and practice this than connecting your mind and body in yoga. So, if you find it hard to concentrate during a solo meditation practice, then this kills two birds in one stone.

TIP: Another thing I also started recently was journaling. Having so many emotions and being overwhelmed by them, this is a great way to distinguish what you are feeling and why and then being able to separate yourself from this.

It’s a great way to work out what is going on in your head and working through it. From this you can create a mood tracker to work out what your feeling and solutions that helped you overcome this feeling/made you feel better.

So, if I’ve kept your attention this far in the blog, I hope you have found some of these tips helpful. There is no one way of staying sane during this time but it’s about finding what works for you. These activities and methods are definitely a great way of reducing stress and trying to combat it by actively doing something that engages your mind and body in a positive and calm way.

Whatever you’re doing, please don’t be too hard on yourselves if you are not getting up and doing what you normally would or if you’re struggle to find motivation to do anything. This is completely normal. Just try and stay positive, healthy and calm and soon we’ll soon be out of this – appreciating and enjoying a new life – having had the time to reflect on the small things that really do mean a lot to us.

In the meantime, stay safe, stay home, stay mindful and stay smiling.
Kiki xx


Other general tips (most of which I’m sure you are well aware of but I have included my advice anyways)

Cook proper, healthy balanced meals to fight infection. It’s so tempting to eat badly and believe me, I’ve surrendered to Ben & Jerrys and Pizza. Whilst it is definitely more than acceptable to treat yourself, we need to make sure we are staying health to fight off this virus.

Make sure to cook some nice and tasty recipes as well. Lots of students are big fans of mobkitchen and tasty and I know I like to watch food videos on the daily. Unfortunately, my laziness overtakes me and I am never motivated to get 100 different ingredients out and whip up one of their so seemingly tasty inventions. Now is the time to try new recipes, but with fewer ingredients!

Music is a great way to release stress. It is also a great mood lifter if you are feeling anxious/worried/sad. Evaluate what kind of music you are listening to and the vibe it gives off and if you feel like you are slipping into a place of fear and anxiety, bang on your happiest, most uplifting playlist even if it seems like the last thing you want to do as this definitely helps to keep spirits up.

Getting some fresh air is important. As much as I looooove my bed (which student doesn’t), the more days I spend under the covers the worse I feel. Even sitting on my terrace for 10 minutes when the sun comes out or dragging myself on a dog walk makes me feel better because I am breathing in fresh air that my mind and body needs.

5 books to get you through isolation

Hi I’m Jini and I’m a first year English student.

As we all know, it’s been a crazy couple of weeks. I’m sure we’ve all heard it a million times by now but just as a reminder, in keeping with NHS guidelines, it is imperative that we all, young and old, practice social distancing, self isolation and quarantining where necessary in order to stop the spread of this virus and return back to our normal lives as soon as possible. But of course doing the right thing isn’t always easy and staying indoors for such a long period of time can be very hard for most of us. With most schools out for the term, we’ve got a lot of free time on our hands, a great period to reflect on the year so far, pick up a new hobby, connect with our friends and family…. At this time it’s really important that we try to come up with fun, innovative ways to keep busy, keep healthy and keep active while also getting the sufficient amounts of rest I’m sure we all need.

As an English student, social distancing has been a good period for me to catch up on all my school reading in a far less pressured, more casual setting, where I don’t have to worry about pesky deadlines and quizzes from tutors. I’ve also been able to add in a few pleasure reads which have been on my radar for a while as a relaxed form of leisure to fit into random pockets during my day. Not to sound like a pre-school teacher, but reading really is such a great way to fill up your time while stimulating your brain, expanding your vocabulary and still a wonderful form of entertainment. And so, for all my fellow booklovers out there I thought it’d be a good idea to make a short list of some great books I’ve recently gotten into, and would highly recommend you dive into during this isolation period.


1. Mo’ Meta Blues by Ahmir ‘Questlove’ Thompson

This one’s for the music junkies and hip hop heads. An amazing autobiography written by none other than lead drummer of the legendary hip hop band, The Roots, this light-hearted read delves into the music connoisseur’s artistic journey with insightful reviews, hilarious anecdotes and more somber reflective moments. Mo’ Meta Blues is the type of book you can keep dropping and picking up again and never get bored of. An interactive read with a narrator who feels like an old friend, it really draws you in from the first page.


2. The Informers by Bret Easton Ellis

A heavier read, this page-turner by the ‘American Psycho’ author American writer chronicles the voices of the 1980s Los Angeles’ upper class teenagers and their parents. Written in form of interconnected short stories, ‘The Informers’ is a dark, nihilist’s satire of the pretentious of the elitist lifestyle. Mysterious and pensive, it is a story which stays with you long after you’ve turned the last page.


3. A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi

Some would love to deny it but deep down everyone’s a sucker for a good romance novel. This period piece set in the aftermath of the 9/11 American terrorist attacks is focused on two high school teenagers from different cultural backgrounds navigating first love in a tumultuous period. Mafi teaches us the importance of acceptance and sacrifice, and forces us to question just how big of a part stereotypes actually play in our everyday lives. In our current times, this is a book which is as relevant as ever.


4. Warcross by Marie Lu

Another young adult read, Warcross is the dystopian thriller you won’t want to put down. In a futuristic society where a virtual game is the world’s biggest obsession, teenage hacker

Emika cracks the code and is thrust into a whirlwind adventure which sees her becoming one of the game’s top competitors and uncovering a conspiracy that could potentially turn the entire Warcross phenomenon on its head. And if a fierce female protagonist with amazing character development isn’t enough to draw you in, the refreshing minority representation in this just might.


5. On Love by Charles Bukowski

A poetry collection by the reclusive Beat Generation writer pegged as ‘The Dirty Old Man of America’ and known for the mundane intimacy of his work and cynical subject matter, this collection deals with the complications and exaltations of love, in all its forms. It is a representation of its author; erratic, random and fragmented in ites expressions of love, lust, desire and family and yet brutally honest and reflective. Bukowski is not afraid to be vulnerable and flawed. This is great read for any poetry love, by delving into his mindset it makes me confront my own ideas of love and companionship.

How to look after your wellbeing during isolation

We understand that the current Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak is extremely worrying. It is easy to feel overwhelmed and that’s why we have put together a few self-care tips for you during this time. 


Look after yourself 

Whilst staying at home, it is important that you take care of yourself and try to remain as healthy as possible: 

  • Try to maintain a routine and avoid sleeping too much. 
  • Exercise daily if you are feeling well enough – there are many home workouts available online, including these from Les Mills which are free for University Sports Centre members. 
  • Try and get some fresh air outside if you are able to. 
  • Stay hydrated and eat well. BBC Good Food have many recipe ideas. 
  • Avoid ‘fake news’ about the current situation. Instead keep up to date via our webpage, Public Health England and the NHS. 
  • If social media is making you feel anxious, take a break from it. 
  • Keep your room and home clean and tidy. A clutter free environment can help towards a healthy mind. 

Supporting those around you 

We can make a big difference by supporting the people around us and showing solidarity with our community: 

  • Check your phone list and see if there’s someone you have been meaning to catch up with for a while. Now could be the time to reach out to them. 
  • Treat everyone with empathy and compassion and come together to look out for others. 


Social distancing doesn’t mean you cannot be social  

Whether you are currently in Bristol or at home, it is really important that you keep in contact with family and friends to stay positive. Here are a few ideas for you: 

  • Video call friends and/or family (e.g. during meal times so you can eat together). 
  • Netflix party is a new way for you to watch series and films with loved ones. 
  • Create a joint playlist which you can listen to with friends at the same time. 
  • Join Facebook community groups for your local area and the SU’s online Living Room.
  • Follow Government guidance about social distancing – when this is all over, there will be time to get together. 


Wellbeing support 

If you need some support, here are a few resources: 

  • If you are worried about your studies or you feel you need help managing these changes, please contact our Wellbeing teams or email coronavirus-student@bristol.ac.uk. 
  • Talk Campus is an app which enables you to speak with fellow students from around the world for instant support day and night. 
  • Big White Wall is a digital support service you can access 24/7 and talk to others anonymously. 
  • Shout (crisis messenger) offers free mental health support. Text Bristol to 85258 to be connected to a trained volunteer. 
  • Mind have lots of useful tips if you are feeling anxious. 
  • Nilaari is a culturally appropriate counselling service providing help and support for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic people.

Keep up to date 

Would you like to share your tips for self-isolation? Have you got a stay at home goal? Know any tips for exercising in small spaces? Got great recipes for tinned food? We would love to hear from you! Get in contact at student-comms@bristol.ac.uk and you could feature in our next blog. 

 

University Mental Health Day 2020

On Thursday 5 March 2020, Universities from across the UK will be coming together to raise awareness of student and staff mental health for #UniMentalHealthDay.

This year, universities are working hard to make mental health a university-wide priority. To support this aim, we have organised a range of events, workshops and resources. By taking part, you are helping raise awareness of the importance of positive mental health and encouraging others to do the same.

Let’s inspire conversations, take action and create change!


Get involved

  • Bristol Wellbeing Conference (5 March 2020, 9 am-4 pm, Anson Rooms). This all day student-led event will host mindfulness activities, panel discussions, talks, workshops, and exhibitions. This conference is open to all staff, students and members of the public.
  • Share your experiences with others in a blog. Please email student-comms@bristol.ac.uk if you would like to write a blog for us.
  • Share your story and words of encouragement on social media using the hashtag #UniMentalHealthDay.


Free mental health training

  • Mentally Healthy Universities – free mental health workshops to first year and final year UG students. The University and Bristol Mind is hosting a series of free workshops designed to support you to look after your mental health while at University. Book your place here.
  • Suicide Prevention Online Training – Would you know how to approach someone who is struggling? Please take just 20 minutes to learn the skills that will enable you to approach and help those who may be having suicidal thoughts. Save a life, take the training.


Be active

  • Healthy Minds programme – Healthy Minds is a 12 week programme which aims to help students experiencing mental health difficulties through a varied and socially engaging programme of physical activity options.
  • Read about Charlotte and Ashley’s experience and how the Healthy Minds programme has supported their wellbeing through university and beyond.
  • Great Bristol 10K – The Great Bristol 10K is for everyone, from complete beginners to elite athletes. Taking part is a great way to get active and support your physical and mental health. We are offering discounted entry for students, staff and alumni when you sign up via this page.


Mental Health in Young People – students at the heart of research

‘Mental Health in Young People’ is a new research initiative, led by the Elizabeth Blackwell Institute. The initiative will look at ways to improve mental health and wellbeing for young people, with a particular focus on University students.

If you would like more information, or would like to join the Mental Health in Young People research initiative network, please contact ebi-mentalhealthyp-research@bristol.ac.uk


Mental Health and Wellbeing Survey Results

In 2018/19, many of you shared your views about mental health and wellbeing support by taking our Mental Health and Wellbeing Surveys. Your views are changing how we support your wellbeing at Bristol. Find out more.

The 2020 Wellbeing Survey will be live from 1 – 17 May. We encourage you all to share your views and help us make positive changes to student wellbeing and mental health.


Where to get help

Here at Bristol, you’re not on your own; there is always someone to talk to. We have a range of free support and services available to all students.

If you’re uncertain where to go for help,  call: +44 (0)117 45 69860, email: wellbeing-access@bristol.ac.uk, and a member of staff will be able to advise you or visit our Wellbeing webpages.

Mentally Healthy Universities: Shifting culture through community and conversation

What does it mean to be mentally healthy? What are the early triggers and warning signs of stress and anxiety? How can we support ourselves and each other as we navigate some of life’s toughest challenges?

These are some of the questions that students and staff at the University of Bristol are being encouraged to explore with the expert guidance of trained mental health specialists from the leading UK charity, Mind.

Bristol is one of six universities taking part in a two-year pilot programme of workshops and courses that take a proactive approach to transforming the way in which mental health is understood, talked about and responded to in student communities and staff spaces.

The programme – Mentally Healthy Universities – has been developed in response to growing evidence about the mental health challenges faced by the UK’s higher education sector. According to the Higher Education Statistics Agency, the number of students who disclosed a mental health condition almost doubled between 2012 and 2015 to nearly 45,000.

The Mind programme of courses, designed with the input of students from Leeds and Oxford University where the initiative began, seek to open up the conversation around mental health in such a way that encourages both students and staff to empower themselves and each other to seek support.

Claire Slater, Deputy Director of Student Services at the University of Bristol, said: “We are really pleased to be taking the lead in tackling this issue in a proactive way. The conversation around mental health is already underway but more does need to be done as unfortunately, stigmatisation and misunderstanding remains a barrier.

“To work with renowned specialists like Mind is a significant step towards eroding those barriers and enhancing the package of support that Bristol offers to students and staff.”

 

Help yourself, help others

Mental health trainers from Mind have already started to deliver three courses under the programme, which will initially run until April 2020. The courses are aimed at students in their first and final years, two of the primary crunch points when the transition into university and away from home, and then out of university and into the workplace, is known to impact mental health.

As well as equipping students with greater knowledge about what constitutes mental health and how to manage their state of mind, the courses are an opportunity for students to share their thoughts, concerns and experiences with each other, and with trained specialists.

Charlotte Randomly, Mentally Healthy Universities Project Coordinator for Bristol Mind, said: “The programme is part of a puzzle that universities like Bristol are trying to figure out by adopting a practical approach to developing mental health awareness as part of a wider cultural shift.”

“We know that mental health is a personal issue, in that it’s felt at the individual level. But we also know that it’s a social concern – the challenges that we face shape and are shaped by the contributions that society makes to our mental health. That’s why with these courses, our focus has been to shift the conversation towards a more community-centred approach.

Student involvement has been key to the whole process of designing and delivering the programme. Those who participate will also be involved in evaluating the pilot later this year. Their feedback will shape how Mind, Bristol and other partners evolve the course.

Champions of collective wellbeing

Running in tandem with the Mind programme is Bristol’s internal drive to empower staff role models within their workspaces. Staff with lived experiences of mental health are being encouraged to apply their insights as Mental Health Champions, facilitating conversations and events aimed at supporting their colleagues.

“We all have a role to play in this conversation,” adds Claire. “This is an opportunity for all of us, staff and students, to make a valuable contribution to the ongoing effort to shift perceptions of mental health and to develop a really strong and supportive community culture.”

Investing in the future

The Mind programme of workshops, coupled with the Mental Health Champions initiative, are part of the University’s ongoing commitment to supporting the mental health of its entire community. Plans are also in development to create more online resources for students, while for staff, the Careers Service is hosting a series of Workplace Wellbeing courses similar to those offered to students.

The overarching student Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy further helps to capture and expand the work already underway, ensuring that mental health awareness and support remains a priority.