Find your Support

Hi everyone! Khadija here, chair of the BME network, elected by BME students to represent BME students at a university and SU level.

Many students struggle with finding support, and in my role, I particularly find this as an issue for BME students, who often find it difficult to see how to access the university’s services. As such, I’ve become familiar with what is available, and have had some great discussions with the staff behind them already to incorporate the needs of all students, including those from racial and ethnic minorities! How to Find your Support:

1. Student Wellbeing Service

This is your first port of call if you’re struggling, and includes a range of services, from:

Student Wellbeing Advisors, who can help direct you to where you need to go.

TalkCampus app, giving you online peer-support any time of day and night.

– Self-help resources, including the FIKA Covid-19 support app, which is designed to help you learn practical mental and emotional fitness approaches which you can apply to your everyday life.

The Student Counselling Service, including a specific BAME Counselling service run by NILAARI, which the BME Network supported being expanded into the university last year.

– The uni are working with Bristol Drugs Project too and ‘The Drop’ harm reduction service. If you’re thinking about trying drugs or if drug use has become a problem, reach out via email thedrop@bdp.org.uk find them on Instagram above or call 0117 987 6000.

2. Personal Tutors

Make sure to reach out to your Personal Tutor whenever you need them, for any issues, no matter how big or small. As a network, we’ve engaged with the services to try and work on some diversity training so they can better support all students.

3. Study Skills

Check out the Study Skills online! I’ve been a medical student for 3 years, and now I’m intercalating in a Masters and having to manage my own learning far more. So I used these pages for the first time this year and found them surprisingly helpful!

4. Library Services

The Library Services are always there as a channel of support with subject librarian advice, if you have any issues finding resources and there’s a Library Support team too for accessibility. In light of COVID they have some great online resources, including the 24/7 live chat service and a great range of self help books too – their One-Stop Shop page is super helpful.

They’ve also just collaborated with the BME Network on sharing resources and books by Black authors for Black History Month, with students like yourself writing the reviews!

I’ve spotted they’re offering Online Study Lounges during October, they’re half-day events led by the Study Skills team and an opportunity to connect with other students online rather than working completely alone.

5. Students’ Union

You can become a course rep and advocate on the issues that you’re finding in your course to help feedback and represent your fellow students.

As well as this, engaging with societies and volunteering can be a great way to find friends and build your student community. I dressed up as a Banana for a week to raise money for charity as part of the Islamic society, something I never dreamed I’d be doing when I first started!

The BME Network believes in collaborating with a range of societies to create a variety of spaces to suit all needs – from large social events like festivals and cultural exchanges, to smaller more relaxed sessions like political discussion groups or wellbeing chat.

At the beginning, the range of what’s out there can feel confusing. It’s all about finding the areas you feel you belong and understanding what helps you feel good early on, so that you know where to find it in times of stress. Maybe sport is your thing? They’re part of the ‘Give it a go’ taster sessions currently running.

6. Peer Mentoring

If you’d find it helpful talking to a current student studying a similar subject to you, look into the Peer Mentoring scheme. It’s open to first year undergraduates to help you settle into uni life and nice to talk to someone who likely knows how you’re feeling and may have the answer! You do need to complete the form before the end of October.

 

This university should support you in thriving both academically and socially, so make sure you access and use the full range of services available, and if there’s something missing, don’t be afraid to ask for it.

Remember, even if you might not feel like you fit in to the university community immediately, you still have the right to take up space in being unapologetically yourself!

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

 

University Mental Health Day 2019

In support of University Mental Health Day 2019, we talk to students and staff about how they are using their voice to change the future of mental health at the University and beyond. Discover how you too can make a difference, today and always.


“I will be using my voice as the Student Living Officer at the Bristol Students’ Union to ensure that the University of Bristol commits to its duty of care and offers pastoral support to students of all  backgrounds. If you want to find out more, please check out my blog post launching the student wellbeing health strategy” – Vanessa Wilson, Student Living Officer 

At the University of Bristol your voice is valued, which is why your opinion was at the heart of our Mental Health Strategy. Get involved in the next Mental Health Consultation at the end of March. Use your voice to make a change.


“As part of the Black Dog Project, we use our voice to educate young people on a range of topics to do with mental health. Our aim is, through education, to reduce the stigma often associated with these types of conversations amongst young people.

I think it is important to raise our voice about mental health because everyone has mental health. Children need to learn that it is as important to look after their mental mind as it is to look after their bodies.” – Nina Rabbitt, Black Dog Project President, Third Year Student

Want to get involved? Find out more here. Use your voice to make a change.


“Passionate about driving change in our city, I am organising ‘Project WalkToTalk Bristol’ with a team of students from Bristol Medical School. The aim is to make mental health a conversation amongst young people and bring communities together in a positive way over something we all, no doubt experience. The event also raises money for Off The Record (Bristol), a charity and social movement aiming to empower young people in a sustainable way. Join us on 4th May… Let’s do this, together.” – George Cole, Project WalkToTalk Bristol Organiser, Second Year Student 

Attend the event and help beat the stigma associated with mental health.


“Discussions around mental wellbeing are part of everyday life, they  happen wherever you are.” – Carolyn Jones, Student Wellbeing Adviser in the School of Social Sciences and Law 

You are not on your own. There is always a friendly face and listening ear nearby. Find out what services we have, what they do and how they can help you.

 

 

 


 “The Healthy Minds programme supports students to take positive steps to improve the way they feel through physical activity and sport. We’ve found that students have reported an improvement in their wellbeing through involvement in the scheme.” – Peter Burrows, Physical Activity and Health Development Officer

Exercise is good for your mind, as well as your body, participating in our Healthy Minds programme could not be easier. To find out more watch this short video with Isaac who took part in the scheme, read about how Beth got involved and visit the site.

 


Your voice is powerful, use it to shape the future of mental health, today and always! 

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.