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.
University life is full of ups and downs. To help manage these stresses and strains it’s important to be aware of your physical, emotional and mental health and take active steps to look after your wellbeing.
It’s Mental Health Awareness Week from 13 – 19 May, a good opportunity to think about how you’re feeling and look at what you can do to look after yourself.
Connect – with friends, family, colleagues and neighbours. These relationships can help you to feel happier and safer. Talking about the way you feel with someone you know and trust can ease the pressure. Even if they can’t help, just being listened to is a positive step. In return, if you’re caring and supportive to others you might be making a big difference, simply by listening.
The Bristol SU Living Room is a great place to relax and unwind and there’s a weekly programme of events open to everyone. They’re completely unobtrusive, so if it’s not your thing, you can just come along and chill or have a game of foosball or ping pong.
If you’d prefer, there are lots of people to talk to at the university or via our resources, from student welfare support, to peer support at the Big White Wall and Just Ask – the Bristol SU’s advice and support service. Visit the ‘Where to get help’ page for more information about the support available to you.
If you’d like to share your thoughts on how we can continue to support the wellbeing of our student community, we’d welcome your input in the Student Mental Health and Wellbeing Survey. You don’t need to have experienced mental health issues to take part. It takes about 15 minutes and is entirely anonymous.
Recent graduate and netball superstar, Eboni Beckford-Chambers, shares the benefits of keeping active and why extra-curricular activities will enrich your life.
You don’t need to be a high performance athlete to benefit from staying active, even just a gentle stroll will help; all activity is clinically-proven to improve mental health.
During the summer term (29 April – 15 June), all B:Active Campus sessions on the timetable are completely free so if you haven’t already, why not check out what’s on offer? There are plenty of B:Active initiatives that don’t take up a lot of time or require a membership, specialist equipment, or commitment to training sessions, so do have a look. There’s also the B:Active Healthy Minds programme – tailored to helping students who are experiencing mental health difficulties – which is well worth looking into.
As Eboni says…
“You just need to seek out what it is you want to do, what you can fall in love with, and roll with it.”
Balance study and leisure activities
At this busy time of year, help to maintain a healthy frame of mind by sleeping and eating well, taking regular breaks away from your screen or desk and making time for yourself. Doing something you enjoy can improve your self-confidence and lift your spirits; whether it’s cooking, seeing friends, doing something creative or learning something new. Helping someone else, through volunteering for example, or setting yourself a realistic challenge can help you to feel positive about yourself too.
If you like the theatre, honorary graduate Jonny Benjamin will be performing ‘Stranger on the Bridge‘ – an inspiring tale of human kindness, mental illness and redemption. See this moving portrayal of one man’s determination to find the Good Samaritan who changed his life at the Tobacco Factory, 14 – 18 May.