A support network surrounding your recovery is vital. In his book ‘In My Right Mind’, Tony Weekes emphasises the importance of family and those close to the sufferer in their treatment. These are the people that understand the person most and are on the front line during a crisis.
At university, at times, it may feel like you don’t have that core group by your side. Yes, you can still call them whenever you like and of course you can visit home, but that constant physical presence is lacking.
And yet, there is a surrogate family who can fill their shoes, your fellow students and the societies and charities they run to fill the gaps.
At QM we have three societies centred around the mental wellbeing of students.
The first is the Mental Health Awareness Society, who aim to raise awareness, make non-suffers aware of the psychology behind it, work with mental health charities, for example YMCA, Mind and Beat, run a Study Buddy Scheme and talks on the variety of subjects. If you want to seek support from them or get involved, check out their Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/qmblmhas/.
Next up, BL OpenMinds Volunteering Society, they too aim to promote discussion surrounding the issue, however, their main focus is to provide education for university and school students on the topic. Their programme involves:
- CRASH COURSE – Sessions where volunteers will learn about 4 different mental health topics, taught by a mental health specialist (e.g. psychiatrist).
- HOW TO TEACH – 1 session where volunteers will learn how to teach, develop lesson plans etc based on the topics covered during the crash course sessions.
- SCHOOL VISITS – After developing lesson plans during the ‘how to teach’ session, volunteers will visit local schools in small groups and teach secondary school children about mental health topics.
This year’s training is already underway, however here is a link to their Facebook page so that you can stay updated about events: https://www.facebook.com/groups/143352866010022/about/
The third organisation is, London Nightline, who advocate ‘We are students there for students’, they work with 38 universities across Greater London – Queen Mary is obviously included. They offer impartial, confidential advice via Skype, email or phone between 6pm and 8am. All of their volunteers are students who have participated in extensive training. No problem is too big or small, on their Facebook page they explain, ‘we cover everything, from housing to sexual health, to the location of the nearest kebab shop.’ To access their services:
- Phone: 0207 631 0101
Skype Phone: londonnightline
Text : 07717 989 900
If you want to assist this amazing charity you can donate online http://nightline.org.uk/donate/. Your donations will help go towards the development of new services for their callers and materials to increase awareness of the charity. Alternatively, you can sign up to work for their hotline, training opportunities reopen in January 2018, to get onto their mailing list to get notified when the opportunities occur then email firstname.lastname@example.org. It is also one of RAG’s chosen charities for the year so keep checking their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/QMBLRAG/ to keep up-to-date about fundraising events!
For more information visit their website: http://nightline.org.uk.
And now onto a society which doesn’t exist, well not just yet, Unity is a not for profit company who have a two-fold mission at heart:
- To challenge the way society views mental health.
- To facilitate vast improvements in the access to care for people with mental disorders, starting with the U.K.
Link to website: https://www.unity-mhs.org/
I recently interviewed the founder, Tony Weekes, here’s a link to the article: http://cubmagazine.co.uk/2017/11/in-my-right-mind-one-mans-quest-to-challenge-our-thinking-on-mental-well-being/ . It’ll give you an idea of what Unity want to achieve and how they’ll do so. Now, where do we come in? Along with wanting online ambassadors to spread the word, Tony wants Unity to have a presence at every university, in the form of a society. His reasoning for this is not only because as the leaders of the future we will be the ones enacting the changes he wants to make, but also so that Unity can help students mental health services and spread awareness. If you want to join me and become part of the first Unity Society, we are the university Tony has selected to spearhead the movement, then email me at, email@example.com.