World Mental Health Day – Sunday 10 October

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.

Reassure them

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.

Be patient

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!

Wellbeing workshops

October

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.

 

 

Find your Community

You will have so many opportunities to immerse yourself in different cultures and groups whilst at Bristol. After all, you’re joining a community of nearly 25,000 students, so do give yourself time to explore what makes you feel happy and settled and give things a go!

Student experience

Andre joined us from Indonesia in 2018 to study a MSc in Education (Learning, Technology & Society). Here he shares his experience as an international student and his thoughts about building your community:

Photo of Andre

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Find Your Flatmates

So you’re moving to a new city, into a new home with new people and new surroundings. Eek! You might be feeling excited by this prospect, nervous or a mixture of the two? Just remember that you’re not alone and many other students will feel exactly the same way.

Top tips from a few of our students 

Cameron Scheijde (BSc Politics & International Relations, 2019)

Recent graduate Cameron remembers how he felt moving to university:

“Moving to a new city is a daunting prospect – but you’ve already made the process easier by choosing Bristol as the place you will live for the next few years. When I received my A level results and found out I was off to Bristol, I felt as I am sure most incoming freshers will be feeling: excitement tainted with nerves and fears for the new start in strange and unfamiliar surroundings with strange and unfamiliar people. I imagined all the things I might be doing in my first week with the constant fear that I wouldn’t be able to make or find any friends. My fears were completely unjustified – from the first day, Bristol’s halls make you feel welcome and cared for. I was in Clifton Hill House, and while each Bristol hall has its own unique identity and feel, they are all set up in the knowledge that moving to uni, whether for the first time or the second, is an incredibly daunting experience.

Clifton Hill House’s family atmosphere meant that I, and the people who I shared corridors and lunchtimes with, were immediately part of a strong and welcoming community. Each hall has a packed social calendar and I would strongly encourage you to get involved in this – halls act as vessels for your own passions, and if you want to do something, whether it be sport, drama, music or something else, the hall is the best place to start.

Before all that, however, is the dreaded moving in weekend and the anticipation of welcome week to come! One of the best things you can do – sorry mums and dads – is say your goodbyes and unpack on your own. This way you can shape your new room yourself.

Also, more importantly, you can prop your door open while you unpack. In doing this, you are inviting your new neighbours to pop in and introduce themselves. I met some of my closest uni friends in these first exchanges – so pack a doorstop! It’s also nice to have some home touches – maybe a rug, desk lamp, photographs – to make your room feel homely.

Freshers’ week can often feel like a complete overload, so creating a space that you feel is safe and homely will be crucial for when you need an escape from freshers fun. Make use of the day time events especially – do not overlook the society ‘give it a go’ sessions or some of the Student Union’s more relaxing activities. These sessions can often be better for getting to know people, as you are immediately united by shared interests. Don’t fret if you don’t immediately get involved in the SU – there will be endless opportunities to get stuck in at a later date. Similarly, do not be intimidated by societies that seem like you need to have done it before to get involved. Every society in the SU is very welcoming to complete novices, and some – such as Quidditch – only have beginners in the first year. Some of the best times in your uni career may well play out in the societies you join.

It can be difficult to adjust after freshers’ week once the lectures start coming and the deadlines loom in the distance. The excitement of the first week means you’re probably too busy to do much thinking, but once the next few weeks start, things like homesickness and exhaustion, as well as freshers’ flu, can become real problems. However – it is important to remember these feelings will be completely normal and more or less universal across your peers. I’d absolutely recommend maintaining a good diet and exercise – even if just walking to lectures – as this will stop your body turning on you. Also, if things get tough, do not be afraid to talk to your academic department or staff in halls. These people are there to help you and will know exactly what you’re going through. Despite what some may have you believe, you’re not ‘doing uni wrong’ if you’re not having an amazing time, 100% of the time. Like anything in life, there are ups and downs. Enjoy the ups, but make sure to ask for help if you’re struggling during the downs.

Halls life is, for most, a completely new experience. Your new environment will shape your next few years and may well forge the friendships that sustain you throughout the rest of your life. I was terrified driving down the M4 in my mum’s heavy-laden car – but the fear was completely misplaced. It will be ok.”

Rosie and Kaylan (3rd year – History and Biochemistry)

Current students Rosie and Kaylan, share their packing recommendations for Bristol!

For any accommodation queries, contact the Accommodation Office.

See the new student webpages for lots of additional information about the items mentioned in this blog.

Next week’s blog…

Find Your Way will help you to feel more familiar with the campus with suggested places to explore and key locations to know about from the start!

 

It’s time to Find Your Bristol!

Congratulations on securing your place at the University of Bristol. The countdown is now on until you join us! We’re really looking forward to welcoming you very soon.

No doubt you’re full of questions as you start out on this new, exciting chapter. Well, you’re in the right place. This is the first of a series of weekly blog posts to help answer some of the questions you may have about preparing for your arrival in September and beyond.

Current third year students, Rosie and Kaylan, share their tips on where to find further information.

Top places to find info 

New student webpages

For really useful checklists on what to do next and what to do when you arrive, check out the new student webpages. If you’re an international student, take a look at our information for new international students which includes an international student handbook.

Welcome pack and guides

Undergraduates – look out for your Welcome pack in the post, similar to the one above. Postgraduate students – you’ll receive your welcome guide on arrival, either a printed version or via an online link provided by your Faculty. You can also expect to receive an email or two from us in the next few weeks updating you on all the important things to remember.

Start connecting

Official Bristol University Freshers 2019 Facebook group

You may have already joined the Official Bristol University Freshers 2019 Facebook group. We’ve joined forces with Bristol Students’ Union to host this group so it’s definitely worth joining to find out about the big events taking place and start meeting people. Watch out for unofficial Facebook groups and events set up by external organisations. Bristol SU is the only ticket seller for the official Welcome Week programme. You can find out more about this here.

Peer mentoring

Many students choose to get involved with our Peer mentoring scheme. A peer mentor is a current student usually studying a similar subject to you, who can help you to settle in to University. You can ask them any questions you may have about your course or about university life in general.

Don’t forget that all new students are in exactly the same boat as you are, so asking questions and making links with fellow new students, may help to calm those nerves.

Welcome Week

Welcome Week will be taking place from 23 – 27 September and we’d encourage you to get involved in as many activities and events as possible. It’s a great way to start finding your way around campus, meet new people and settle into your new home and the vibrant city of Bristol. You’ll see lots more about Welcome Week in the coming weeks including the University Welcome Ceremony, held in the iconic Great Hall of the Wills Memorial Building. The University will welcome you more formally and introduce you to what it really means to be a student here.

Next week’s blog…

Recent graduate Cameron (Politics and International Relations, 2019) will be sharing how he felt about moving into Halls plus more around accommodation.

What to pack for University 

You’ve got six sets of Wilkinson’s basics coasters…but no shower gel. A suitcase of fancy dress options and only one extension cord. Moving into halls is an exciting time, so if you’re starting to think about what you need to bring to University, don’t worry about forgetting something important – we’ve got you covered. 

student's feet below the word 'hello'

Here’s our list of things to pack: 

The essentials 

  • Registration guide and Welcome Week timetable so you know where you’re going 
  • Keep cup – you can get a discount at each of our Source cafés every time you use a reusable mug 
  • Water bottle – keep hydrated in style and help save the planet by saying no to single-use plastics 
  • Towel 
  • Clothes 
  • Bedding – you’d be surprised how many people forget a duvet cover or pillow case! 
  • Toiletries  
  • Kitchen equipment – if you’re in self-catered accommodation you should bring a plate, bowl, cutlery, and pots and pans. It can be worth waiting until you arrive to see what your housemates have brought before buying smaller items like vegetable peelers or cheese graters; that way you’ll end up only with what you need. 

 flat-lay of items to pack

Getting around 

Ready to study 

  • Notepad 
  • Pencil case – you can pick up loads of cool freebies, including stationery, at the Welcome Fair 
  • Laptop 
  • Headphones – because you don’t want to be that person blasting music on the bus 
  • Textbooks – our libraries are also a great resource and staff are happy to help you find what you need 

Your new community 

  • Biscuits are a great way to break the ice when you first move in 
  • Playing cards or board games 
  • Fancy dress 
  • SU wristband for entry into a host of events to help you get to know your neighbours and make friends 

student carrying a box into halls

A home away from home 

  • Photos of family and friends 
  • Clock – because you don’t want to miss that 9 am lecture! 
  • A cozy hoodie 
  • Calendar 
  • Lamp 

Need something else? 

There are plenty of shops nearby where you can pick up anything else that you need – including The Basket, found on the ground floor of the Students’ Union. You can also order moving-in packs for the kitchen, bathroom, or cleaning supplies. 

Why not get a plant or poster to brighten up your room and make it your own? Share a photo of your space with us using #FindYourBristol and let us know the one thing that you’re not leaving home without.  

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.