Mental Health Awareness week

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Today marks the first day of the Mental Health Foundation’s Mental Health Awareness Week for 2022, an annual event where there is an opportunity for the whole of the UK to focus on achieving good mental health. The theme of the week this year is loneliness.

Loneliness is the negative feeling we have when there is a mismatch between the relationships we want and the ones we have, both in terms of quality and quantity. Loneliness is feeling alone, not being alone.

As a student, it is likely that you will be experiences many life changes, including starting university, making new friends, moving away from home for the first time, and so many other changes too. Experiencing changes and making life decisions can have an impact on our sense of belonging, and a perceived lack of belonging can be linked to an increased feeling of loneliness.

Loneliness is very closely linked to mental health, and can be a cause and an effect of poor mental health. If we feel lonely, it might lead to poor mental health, and if our mental health is poor, it can lead to feelings of loneliness.

So what can we do to tackle loneliness?

The Mental Health Foundation’s Unlocking Loneliness Campaign highlights 15 things to do if you’re feeling lonely, including:

Explore your feelings

Think about how you are feeling and what could be contributing to this. It can be useful to keep a journal and note down what you have (or haven’t) been doing, and how you are feeling. By better understanding what makes us feel- the way we feel, we can do more to learn what works for us and protect our mental health.

Be aware of social media

Remember to take social media with a pinch of salt. People tend to post the positive aspects of their lives. That doesn’t mean that they don’t have negative experiences and may be feeling lonely too. If social media is having a negative impact on your mental health, or making you feel lonely, why not try unfollowing or muting the accounts that bring up those difficult feelings, and start following accounts that make you feel empowered

Find your tribe

Finding people with similar interests you can relate to can help you feel more connected. University clubs and societies are a great place to start, UWE MOVE, Centre for Music and Student Life are brilliant places to meet new people too. There are also sites like Meetup specifically designed to help you find people with similar interests. Give a go and see!

Find balance

The increased workload at university can make it easy to neglect looking after yourself and making time for the things and the people that you care about. Being disconnected from these things can increase your feelings of loneliness, so remember to schedule in time for you and the things you enjoy too.

How can you get involved in Mental Health Awareness week?

On social media, we are encouraging you to share your experiences of loneliness using the hashtag #IveBeenThere to support others and raise awareness.

If you’re looking for a challenge, sign up to the Mental Health Foundation’s 80 Miles in May Challenge, to walk, run or jog the distance over the month, to raise funds and awareness for the Mental Health Foundation.

Resources to support your mental health

Check out our Tackling loneliness webpage or the Student Guide to Loneliness, for lots of advice, tips and information about how to support yourself, as well as organisations that are there to listen to and support you.

The NHS also have extensive expert advice and practical tips to help you look after your own wellbeing, on their Every Mind Matters webpage.

If you need someone to listen

The Mix – whether you want a quick chat or more focused help, text THEMIX to 85258

Shout – if you are struggling to cope and need to talk, day or night, text SHOUT to 85258

Student Space – for one-to-one student support for whatever challenges you are facing, text STUDENT to 85258

Samaritans – whatever you are going through, you can call Samaritans anytime. Call free on 116 123

University Mental Health day

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by the Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity team

Following the events of Feel Good February, we’re continuing the promote the importance of practising self-care and managing your mental wellbeing with University Mental Health Day on Thursday 3 March, founded by Student Minds and the University Mental Health Advisors Network.

Learning more about mental health

1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem of some kind each year in England , with 1 in 6 people reporting a common mental health problem in any given week .

These include, but are not limited to: anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). While they are not mental health diagnoses, suicidal thoughts, and self-harm are also related to mental health.

Supporting your mental health

Professional services

Whether you’re living with a condition, know, or are supporting someone who is, it’s important that you seek out daily and long-term support. UWE Bristol are proud to feature a range of professional health and wellbeing services to support you, that include out of hours support and are also partnered with local organisations such as Off the Record and Bristol Mental Health, endeavouring to provide you with an extensive range of care.

Exercise

Exercise is also a great way to raise endorphins and the free MOVE programme at the Centre for Sport, offers over 40 activities for you to engage in, including: dance, hiking, mediation, Tai Chi, and yoga. If you require quiet and self-reflection, there are sanctuary spaces across all campuses and the Student Centre based on Frenchay Campus, is also home to the out of-hours team on the first floor. If you require pastoral support, 2OCT003 based in The Octagon is a 5-minute walk from there.

Diet

Diet can also impact mental wellbeing and the University strives to offer a range of nutritious food and drink outlets on all campuses that accommodate dietary requirements including vegan, vegetarian, and gluten free and are open to any recommendations to diversify their options.

There are also Hydration stations located throughout each of the campuses to encourage you to work towards drinking 1.5 to 2.3 litres of water a day, as recommended by the NHS. Water has many benefits, including improved focus, boosting your immune system, and mood maintenance, so you could also combine a short walk to a station in another building and get some fresh air to maintain those endorphins.

How to get involved in University Mental Health day

Get involved by inspiring conversations, taking action, and creating change through hosting an event, signposting a friend to the available resources or sharing your experience on social media using #UniMentalHealthDay.

No one should ever feel alone with their mental health, so we encourage you to engage with the links embedded within this post or to speak with your personal tutor for further support.

Disclosing a mental health problem

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by the Wellbeing Service

For some people, the transition to university can be made more daunting by the thought of being surrounded by new people who don’t understand our difficulties.

Opening up

Telling people about your mental health is a personal choice and you should never feel like you have to. However, it can mean that new people around you better understand your experiences, needs and behaviours and can support you more effectively.

Telling people does not have to be ‘all or nothing’ – you can choose who you tell and what you tell them and you only need to share what is relevant. For example, you may want your flatmate to know you get really anxious around new people and ask that they let you know if they’re having people over.

If you choose to tell people about your mental health, be aware that this may be the first time they are hearing about these kind of difficulties. Letting them know where they can access accurate information is really helpful in their understanding. Mind have a great website with particular information for friends and family.

A helping hand

The University’s Wellbeing Service can support you to tell staff and friends about your difficulties if you feel it would be helpful for them to understand what you are experiencing. This could be on-going difficulties or a specific set of circumstances. This would be collaborative and is never done without your consent.

Dealing with diagnosis

If you have a formal diagnosis, our Disability Service can support you with telling relevant people in the university about your needs. They can work with you to prepare what’s called an Impact Statement which informs academic staff about your difficulties and how these affect your studies – for example letting lecturers know you may need to leave for breaks if you become too anxious. The service can also support you to arrange ‘reasonable adjustments’ to make your study experience as accessible as possible.

Access support

If you’re finding it difficult to disclose your mental health difficulties, remember that you can speak to someone at the Wellbeing Service for support. To arrange an appointment, contact us on 0117 32 86268 or email.

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