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Veenu Gupta is a PhD Psychology student. Here she discusses her role as a Peer Wellbeing Ambassador at the University and how it can help her fellow students with their mental wellbeing.
“We know that one in four people experience mental health problems within society, but the stats for postgraduate students who experience mental health problems are proportionally significantly higher.
“University can be the first time that issues relating to wellbeing onset – and it may be caused by many different reasons such as difficulties in your social or personal life, financial struggles and even imposter syndrome. That’s why it is so important to have support for students to understand the kinds of challenges that this group might face and where they can go to find support.
“The role of Peer Wellbeing Ambassadors at the University is to encourage social networks that support individuals to manage their wellbeing through activities such as regular coffee breaks where people can get together and think about things other than research and work.
“Another part of our role is to provide information about and signpost to services that are available, where individuals who might be struggling can go for support from the University and independent services. Each of the Peer Wellbeing Ambassadors have been trained in a mental health first aid course which equips them with the knowledge of how to respond to issues relating to wellbeing that other students may be facing and how best to support them.
“I have personally experienced mental health difficulties myself which occurred quite early on in my teenage years following the experience of bullying. I experienced anxiety, depression and some paranoia. I was supported by some Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and medication which, in combination, supported me in managing my mental health. Things got easier as the years went on but I had not fully realised the impact of the bullying, and a difficult and stressful time at university made my mental health issues resurface in the form of auditory, visual hallucinations and paranoid beliefs.
“I had not been provided with ongoing support from the child and adolescent mental health service into adult mental health services and consequently fell through the gap. I did get the help I needed from the University Counselling Service as well as NHS services and this helped me on my road to recovery.
“Getting help early is so important in preventing and managing mental health issues and that is why I am committed to supporting others with wellbeing difficulties to access the services they need. I am able to do that through the role of the Peer Wellbeing Ambassador scheme where fellow postgraduate students and peers support each other. The unique thing about this is that, being peers, we are likely to have similar experiences so can potentially better understand the challenges we are facing and how to support one another.
“I have since completed my BSc Psychology degree, trained as a Mental Health Nurse and now I am completing a PhD in Psychology. The challenges within PhD and postgraduate research are unique and many individuals will experience challenges within their research, or other wellbeing related difficulties. It is important for us to know that these experiences are related and a reaction to the stressors and contexts in which we work, and it is essential to understand that we must look after ourselves and each other.
“All of my fellow Peer Ambassadors in the scheme are empathetic, compassionate and strive to support students to the best of their ability and I feel a part of a great postgraduate community at Liverpool.
“If you require any support regarding your wellbeing or if you are facing difficulties and need to know what support is available, please get in touch with any of us or come along to our peer wellbeing coffee breaks.”
For more information about Peer Wellbeing Ambassadors please contact PGR Wellbeing Project Manager, Maizy Jenner on M.Jenner@liverpool.ac.uk.
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