For the last year and a half, I have dedicated my column (http://cubmagazine.co.uk/category/columns/wereallmadhere/page/6/) to writing all things mental health, including, the support currently available to QM students:
I have tried, in an impartial manner, to investigate the SU’s schemes, university policy, advice & counselling services and local organisations. And although with each case I could wholly appreciate the dedicated, resourceful and genuine work of those involved, I always came to the same conclusion, it’s not enough. This is not because any of the above groups don’t want to do more, and therefore do not priorities student mental health, instead, it is because they can’t do anymore. All of these groups want to do the best they can, but they are strained in resources, people and time.
So around 10 months ago I decided, instead of just moaning about it, I have decided to do something about it. For this column I interviewed Tony Weekes, author and CEO of the mental health not-for-profit Unity. Anyway, we hit it off and he explained that he wanted his organisation to have a presence at university in order to push for awareness and make change with the leaders of the future. And from this conversation, Unity Society was born.
Our aims are:
- To challenge the way society views mental health starting with the leaders of the future.
- To facilitate vast improvements in the access to care for people with mental disorders fuelled by the fresh knowledge base of current students.
- To train student volunteers in mental health first aid as a form of self-help and to help and assist others when in need.
- To promote fresh thinking and new ideas in tackling the social and economic problems (Eg. Unemployment, homelessness & environmental factors) which stem from mental health.
So, who are we? Meet the team:
Gina – President:
Hello, hello, hello, my name is Gina, and I am El Presidante.
Mental health has played quite a crippling role in my life, and those around me, so it is a topic which is very close to home.
Hence, along with my column, I wanted to channel my energy into helping others.
Sometimes all it takes is knowing someone is there.
Uthman – VP:
My name is Uthman. I will be working in the capacity of Vice President.
I was interested in getting involved because mental health is a topic that I am quite passionate about. I have had family members that have suffered from mental health problems and myself I have suffered from anxiety.
As a result, I was part of a team of individuals that started a BAME focused charity that work around mental health and breaking down the taboo that surrounds it in these communities, this was based in Luton.
Knowing that mental health issues are not so uncommon in students I was actually quite surprised to know there was already not a society that works on this issue.
So, I thought it was a great opportunity to work on an issue that will help many people.
Hussain – Publicity Officer:
Hiyya my names Hussain and I’m going to be the publicity officer for unity. I want to work in this society as I know many people who have been affected by mental health issues and believe that they cannot ask for help from their local GP.
Kim – Events Planner:
Hey guys I’m Kim, I’m going to be the events planner 🙂 I’m going into third year, studying comparative literature. Mental health is something that played a big part in my childhood and I don’t want anyone to feel isolated.
Hope – Liaison Officer:
Hi guys I’m Hope, and I’m going to be the societies and clubs Liaison officer. I want to be involved as I still feel there is too much of a stigma around mental health which we need to get rid of and I feel like there is no other society like this and it would be very beneficial for so many people!
Sammie – Disclosure Officer:
Heyyy I’m Sammie! I’m going to be a disclosure officer & I wanted to help out because I wish I’d had someone my own age around for support when I was struggling & also I’ve seen my parent suffer quite badly so I feel like something needs to done!
Jacob – Disclosure Officer:
Hi, I’m Jacob I’m also going to be a disclosure officer. I think that the society sounded like a really good idea and I wanted to help as I’ve met loads of people in and out of uni that struggle, and it would be nice to be there for them.
We have so many events planned for the year! From open mic night’s, yoga classes, art therapy sessions, fundraising events, and debates!
In the New Year we will hopefully be launching our Conversation Cafes which will act as safe spaces where students can go and just have a chat about how they’re doing. In order for the space to helpful and inclusive, we will have our Disclosure Officers present, so that if any triggering, for example, suicide, self-harm, etch, is said, then they can intervene and point the person in the direction of services which they could access.
Our first round of events are as follows:
- Mental Health Awareness Day – 10th October – We will be holding Conversation Booths with the charity Thrive in library square and assisting the SU in a coffee morning.
- Round Table – End of October/Beginning of November – In the SU we will be holding a forum about mental health with a wide range of speakers, including, VP Welfare, BME Officer, LGBT President, Women’s Officer and Tony Weekes the CEO of Unity.
- Open Mic Night – November – Working with Peach, the creative writing media outlet, we will be holding an intimate spoken word evening in the chaplaincy’s yurt.
It is only £3 to become part of our society (so really it is like a year long meal deal!), and we want to be able to help as many students as we can! So, if you’re struggling with settling in, stress, a diagnosed mental health problem, supporting someone who is a sufferer, or want to raise awareness, then why not join us?
To sign up, visit: https://www.qmsu.org/groups/17678/
Mental health matters!