By: Emily Maybanks
University Mental Health Day this year is held on Thursday 1st March 2018 (for us here at Swansea University and across Wales in general, this is also St David’s Day). University Mental Health Day (UMHD) is an annual event organised by Student Minds – the UK’s student mental health charity, and the University Mental Health Advisers Network (UMHAN) – a national UK charity.
Being at University brings with it numerous unique challenges to students’ mental health and wellbeing and the years spent at University actually coincide with the peak onset for a range of mental health difficulties – with 75% of all mental health difficulties developing by mid-twenties age. As students, our mental health has an impact on our capacity to be involved in University life.
The theme for this year’s UMHD is community. Communities are fundamental to our mental health and wellbeing because they promote a sense of belonging and thus reduced isolation, as well as the chance to build support networks. At University, there are several ways you can be part of a community. Here at Swansea University, the Students’ Union has over 130 societies and sports clubs which you can choose to be part of. Joining a society is a fantastic way to feel part of a community, and joining a sports club has the added benefit of improving your fitness. Joining a club gives you the chance to make friends, try new things and keep up with hobbies and interests. Another wonderful way to feel part of a community is to volunteer. There are several ways you can do this. Firstly, the University’s volunteering service Discovery offers a variety of volunteering opportunities. You can also contact local charity shops in the city centre to volunteer there also. Volunteering in a charity shop is a great way to learn new skills and meet new people. Furthermore, the Swansea Student Media channels – Waterfront, Xtreme and SUTV are always looking for students to get involved. You can write for or design the Waterfront newspaper; you can host your own radio show; or you can produce your own videos.
For UMHD 2018, Swansea University Students’ Union’s Advice and Support Centre have teamed up with Student Minds, as well as the University’s Wellbeing, and Student Services. They will be in Fulton House on Singleton Campus, as well as in the SU Building on Bay Campus from 11a.m. until 2p.m. on Thursday 1st March 2018 with free tea and biscuits, promoting students’ mental health and wellbeing, as well as advising on how to be part of community, including our very own Swansea Student Media community!
In the weeks leading up to UMHD, I had my first taste of video production. With the assistance of Student Media coordinator, Iain, I asked three questions relating to community to students on both Singleton and Bay campuses – you can watch the video below. The questions I asked were inspired by questions I responded to for a Student Minds’ blog post for UMHD.
- What does community mean to you?
- Where do you feel part of a community within Swansea University?
- How could you give back to your community?
Read my own responses to these questions below.
UMHD 2018 is a chance for all of us here at Swansea University – students and staff alike – to reflect on the importance and value of community in improving the mental health and wellbeing of students. Follow the hashtag #UniMentalHealthDay on social media.