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Author Ffion Thomas, is Vice President at Liverpool Guild of Students. Read more about Ffion and Imogen de Castro Gray’s (Deputy President at Liverpool Guild of Students) mental wellbeing priorities at the end of this blog.
Today is University Mental Health Day. It’s an opportunity to come together as a community and ensure that student mental health is, and remains a priority for the University all year round. Although we don’t need specific days to discuss mental health, celebrating days like University Mental Health Day and Blue Monday are a great way of spotlighting mental health; to raise awareness of wellbeing and to promote useful services and resources.
1 in 4 of us will experience poor mental health at some point in a year, and I’ve previously highlighted how students are especially vulnerable. Being a student has its own unique set of challenges to wellbeing and mental health, which have been exacerbated by the pandemic especially in light of fewer opportunities for social interactions and changes to your teaching.
As your Vice President, I commit to improving the profile of student wellbeing and prioritising student mental health support is something we must undertake all year round. However, I’m using today to update you on the work I’ve been doing, providing service updates and discussing campaign wins to ensure you know the support that is available to you.
In response to the pandemic, Imogen and I regularly work with staff in the University services to improve support for students. A few of the positive steps we’ve achieved are increased funding to the Counselling Service, which has resulted in more Single Session Therapy (SST) appointments being offered. Increasing funding allowed for three additional sessional counsellors, and the service’s operating hours being extended to 7pm on Mondays, Wednesday and Thursdays. Recently, our work has been focused on developing Mental Health First Aid and Suicide Prevention training, to be rolled out to staff and students. You can read about more of these updates here.
Within the Guild, Imogen and I have launched dedicated mental health and wellbeing webpages, where you can find signposting to University, Guild and external support to ensure you can easily find the support you need. Accompanying this, we’ve created a video on how to access relevant services as a student and collated plenty of resources to support your wellbeing, both generally and for targeted groups such as male mental health. We also promote the wellbeing focused events we host such as the Mental Health Forums, and share updates on our campaign work.
Personally, my main focus has been planning and hosting the Mental Health Forums. These are a series of events focused on discussing student wellbeing. The first Mental Health Forum on wellbeing during Covid was on 17 February, and was a success! Attendees discussed the unique mental health challenges students face, and we shared ways to prioritise self-care. Also, we discussed expectations and issues surrounding the University’s support and I gathered useful feedback and critique to raise with the University.
Looking forwards, I will continue to prioritise student mental health and push for improvements to be made to services. I am currently planning the second event in the Mental Health Forum series, a chat focused on Male Wellbeing which I’m looking forward to hosting in March.
Also, following the pandemic, Imogen and I will be exploring how best University mental health services can be delivered, and looking at reviewing the services with a hybrid model in mind.
As always, I’m open to talk to students about mental health to make sure your voice is heard. If you’d like to hear more about my work, raise something with the University or just have a chat, feel free to get in touch, email me at email@example.com. If you’d like individual support, mental health or otherwise, I recommend contacting the Guild Advice team for free, independent and confidential support, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Take care, Ffion 💚
Ffion, Vice President of the Liverpool Guild of Students: I have a passion for mental health as it affects all of us and I strive to keep working on making positive changes to improve students’ experiences. I’m especially interested in the broader mental health landscape, focusing on wellbeing for all, improving mental health support and suicide prevention. I’m also interested in the context of mental health conditions as disabilities and focus on advocating for disabled students regularly.
Imogen, Deputy President of the Guild of students: Part of my manifesto was aimed at improving students’ mental health and wellbeing, as I am incredibly passionate about this topic. In doing so, I have been working to extend the services hours past 5pm, provide more wellbeing initiatives such as Wellbeing Wednesdays, as well as working on providing suicide prevention training. I am also passionate about making sure the Universities services are competent to all students, particularly those from marginalized backgrounds and this ties in with my work to make the campus more inclusive.
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