Scot, Wellbeing Practitioner, talks about Mental Health Awareness Week…
It’s mental health awareness week and it couldn’t come at a better time! Exams and deadlines are happening for many of us, or are looming in the near future, so let’s not forget to take care of ourselves.
The theme this year is stress and it couldn’t be more appropriate. We all feel stressed at some point about something. It’s a perfectly natural reaction to difficult situations. When we stop to think, the vast majority of us will probably drift towards thoughts which make us tense, anxious, on edge, and stressed. And why wouldn’t we feel that way? Things are difficult at the moment, both for ourselves as individual people and on a macro, societal level. As recently as last week, mental health services in Higher Education came under scrutiny because many are failing to meet the needs of students. So, let’s talk a bit about mental health, why it is important, why we should all feel comfortable discussing it, and how to work towards improving it.
First off, let’s think about mental health more broadly. It affects us all. Everyone has it. Consider physical health – if you consider yourself to be a healthy person, you might say you are in good health. If not, you might say you have health problems. This is no different for mental health. People can be in good mental health, and alternatively can have mental health problems. The most important thing to remember is that this is okay and having concerns about your mental health doesn’t have to be a source of insecurity or shame.
Let’s look at a few blogs by some of our wonderful wellbeing champions to illustrate this point.
First up, Polly has bravely shared her experiences with her mental health, explaining how university life affected her and how she took steps towards improving her emotional wellbeing. You can read her blog here.
Next, we have an example from another of one of our brilliant wellbeing champions, Nichola, sharing her experiences of dealing with PTSD (that’s Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder for those unfamiliar with the acronym). You can read that blog post here.
Finally, Callie, a third member of the magnificent wellbeing champions group, has shared her experiences of social anxiety. You can read about that here.
Now, if all of these brave and honest accounts of personal mental health struggles wasn’t enough, a fourth wellbeing champion has taken it upon themselves to write a wonderful post about creativity. In particular, creative ways of discussing your mental health and improving your wellbeing. Have a look at that here.
All of this amazing work and these fabulous contributions have been made as part of the Let’s Share campaign. This initiative is focused on empowering both staff and students to share more about mental health. By communicating with one another, sharing thoughts, concerns and experiences, we can all work towards eliminating the stigma that sadly is still associated by some with the topic.
Of course, this isn’t the easiest thing to start doing in a way as care-free as discussing the most recent Netflix box-set, but that’s the aim. There is nothing wrong whatsoever with discussing mental health as long as it is underpinned by compassion, respect and understanding. For some inspiration, we can look towards existing students and members of staff – Watch staff and students share their experiences.
These individuals have bravely come forward to offer some insight into their own experiences of mental health. But wouldn’t it be nice if we didn’t have to call it ‘brave’? Are we brave if we tell someone we have flu, or have broken a bone, or have food poisoning? Wouldn’t it be nice to treat and view mental health as an equal counterpart to physical health? (A concept called ‘Parity of Esteem’ by the way, and something being actively pursued by the NHS). Think about it – how often do people greet each other with phrases such as ‘you are looking well’, or enquiring ‘how is your health?’ Why isn’t it just as important to ask ‘how have you been feeling?’
Well, to achieve this, we should probably start with sharing! You can have a look at a separate blog post written by the awesome Jo from the Counselling, Health and Wellbeing team here
But that’s not all our jubilant Jo is up to, she also devotes a lot of time and energy to supporting the LGBT+ community at Cardiff, whose voices should never be neglected or ignored. Have a look at some of her work with the Student Union here.
So there we are, mental health awareness week. A time when we can all come together and support the cause. You can see a brilliant video here let’s all do what we can to make mental health stigma and thing of the past.
If you are experiencing mental health problems or need urgent support, there are lots of places you can go to for help.
Counselling, Health and Wellbeing Service
The Counselling, Health and Wellbeing Service can offer support to anybody experiencing any sort of difficulty.
One-to-one therapy appointments are available to request via an Online Self-Referral Form, which can be found on the Our Appointments Page of the Student Intranet.
A daily Wellbeing Walk-In Service (15:00-15:45: Monday–Friday and Wednesday mornings: 9:30-10:15 at the Student Support Centre at 50 Park Place) is also available.
Wellbeing Workshops offer information, support and self-help resources on a variety of mental health difficulties, and several therapeutic Courses and Groups are also available, offering a safe and confidential space to explore issues and develop new skills over the course of several weeks.
Mental Health Advisers
If you have a long-term* mental health condition, the Mental Health Advisers can support you to manage the impact of this on your functioning at University and can offer a range of practical support options based on your individual needs and situation.
*has lasted or is likely to last over 12 months, or is a long-term fluctuating condition.
Your local doctor (GP) is one of the first places to consider going when you are unwell. Your doctor is there to help you with your mental health as well as your physical health.
Your doctor could:
- make a diagnosis
- offer you support and treatments
- refer you to a mental health specialist if appropriate
- recommend local support options.
If you do not already have a GP, please contact NHS Wales on 08454647 or check out their website to view all of your GP options. The University also has its own GP Practice: Park Place Surgery for those in their catchment area.
Provides confidential, non-judgmental emotional support for people experiencing feelings of distress or despair, including those that could lead to suicide. You can phone, email, write a letter or speak to somebody face-to-face at the Cardiff Branch.
- Telephone: 116 123 (24 hours a day)
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Website org
- Cardiff Branch https://www.samaritans.org/branches/cardiff-district-samaritans
Nightline is a confidential student-led phone service, providing information and a listening ear, run by students for other students:
- 20:00 – 08:00, daily during term-time
- Tel: 029 2087 0555
C.A.L.L. (Community Advice and Listening Line): offers emotional support and information/literature on Mental Health and related matters to the people of Wales. Anyone concerned about their own mental health or that of a relative or friend can access the service, via call or text, any time.
- Tel: 0800 132737 (24 hours a day)
- Text: 81066 (24 hours a day)
How to get Urgent Help
GP / A&E
You should make an appointment to see your GP as soon as possible if you are experiencing suicidal thoughts.
Outside of a booked appointment, you can also contact your GP immediately and at any point if you feel at risk of acting on suicidal thoughts or feel unable to keep yourself safe
Your GP will be able to offer an Emergency Appointment that same day.
If this is outside of Surgery Opening Hours, an Out of Hours GP will be available on the usual GP Surgery telephone number / website.
If an Out of Hours GP is not available for any reason, you can:
- Go to any hospital’s A&E (Accident & Emergency) Department and tell them that you are at risk to yourself.
If you don’t feel able to do this, you can:
- Call 999 and ask for an ambulance to take you to A&E
- Ask someone else to contact 999 for you or take you to A&E immediately
You will be offered assessment and support from a 24-hour Mental Health Team
Scot, Wellbeing Practitioner
Your Student Life, Supported.
The Student Support Centre has a range of services dedicated to helping students make the most of their time at University, including: Advice & Money, Careers & Employability, Counselling, Health & Wellbeing, Disability & Dyslexia and International Student Support.
For further details of services, events, opening times and more find us on the University Intranet.