Over the past few years, mental health and wellbeing have become increasingly significant and poignant topics within our society. Understanding that everyone needs to look after both their physical and mental health has led to more importance being placed on it. The stigma surrounding mental health is constantly being challenged, with charities, individuals and movements speaking out and raising awareness of the issue more widely. Similarly, the services and support available to those suffering from mental health issues are improving, in line with the increase in demand from people seeking help.
Despite these developments however, there is still so much more room for improvement in all these aspects. Unfortunately, the stigma surrounding mental health (and especially mental health issues) is still prevalent and deep-rooted misconceptions are hindering progress towards making our society more understanding and tolerant. One in four of us will experience poor mental health at some point in a year, and it is widely understood that students are especially vulnerable to poor mental health. The sad reality is that most of us have either experienced this ourselves, or witnessed a friend or peer suffer with mental health problems whilst at University.
The pandemic and its difficult impact on people’s lives has put a spotlight on mental health and wellbeing in a unique way. This year more than ever, the necessity of prioritising mental health support and services is undisputed. I ran my election campaign based on a manifesto which included making improvements to mental health support at the University. Now in the role as your Vice President, I have been working on this promise and will continue to do so throughout my term.
So far, my focus has been on updating the Mental Health and Wellbeing webpages on the Guild website. Imogen (Deputy President) and I are both passionate about mental health and have worked together on this project so we can improve signposting to services for the benefit of students. Initially, we launched the website updates on World Mental Health Day, October 10th, alongside a video summarising the key aspects of support available to students. Moving forward, I intend to develop our work on the webpages further and will populate with more helpful resources which students can use in times of need.
Finally, outside of this work, I am also developing Mental Health and Wellbeing Forums to provide students with an opportunity to discuss mental health and the provision of services the University provide. Additionally, male mental health is a focus of mine, as suicide is the biggest killer of young men in the UK. I will be working with charities and other external partners in the near future to provide some much needed support in this area – I will keep you updated on my progress.