In recognition of Mental Health Awareness Week 2017 we caught up with Hannah Davies, Student Wellbeing Coordinator here at BU, for her advice on maintain a sense of wellness.
Why is Mental Health Awareness Week important?
"Mental health is a topic that is important to everyone, not just people who identify as having mental health difficulties. Just as we all have physical health, we all have mental health. It is so easy to focus on things that need to be done around us – a bill to pay, an assignment to write, a job to do, a friends birthday present to buy – we can forget to take a few moments out for ourselves. Mental Health Awareness Week is a good opportunity to remind us all to have a check in with ourselves: How am I feeling? Am I remembering to look after myself? How do my actions impact on others around me?
Mental Health Awareness Week has fallen at quite a timely place in the academic year as a lot of students have assignment hand in’s and exams over the next few weeks. People often say “I haven’t got time to… exercise, relax, see my friends, cook” – whatever it may be. Well, you may not have the time not to, but taking notice of all of these areas will help with concentration, motivation and reducing your stress – ultimately leaving you in a better place to focus on your studies. If you are struggling to make time for everything, try using a weekly planner.
It is important to balance your day and week with a variety of activities – things that need to be done as well as fun activities, and mixing up easy and difficult tasks. It may also be helpful to use a ‘pomodoro’ – a time management technique that helps you break down work into smaller chunks of time, separated by short breaks. You can download a timer onto your computer/laptop."
What mental health issues do you see students struggling with?
"A lot of students visiting the Student Wellbeing team here at BU are often having difficulties with stress or anxiety. Now, anxiety is quite a broad term and something that almost everyone will struggle with at some time or other in their lives to some extent.
Anxiety can affect us when we perceive that we don’t have the adequate skills to cope with a situation, and can be made worse by relatively simple day to day things – not getting a good night’s sleep, skipping meals causing your blood sugar levels to drop, not exercising, or indulging too much in substances such as alcohol, drugs and caffeine. Having a look at your own general wellbeing is a great place to start to manage stress. And also, consider what you do to relax.
"Several good apps to help you fit a little relaxation in to your day include Calm, Frantic World and Headspace.
Students often ask when should they seek help for anxiety. As a rule, I usually advise that it’s when you can identify with these two statements: when the things you usually do to relax and reduce stress no longer work, and, the topic of stress or anxiety has become the centre of your world and you find yourself thinking about it and talking about it a lot of the time."
What support is available for students at BU?
"If you're struggling with stress or anxiety, or any other mental health difficulties, and feel it is time to seek some further help, you can register with Student Wellbeing.
As well as Student Wellbeing, there are all sorts of other services available on campus. For example, speak to SportBU or SUBU about trying a new sport, exercise class or activity. Talk to the library staff if you’re worrying about a failed or future assignment. Book an appointment with the careers and placements teams if you need help with your placement. Getting practical advice often reduces stress - you can always contact AskBU if you’re not sure where to go for the best help.
Student Wellbeing offers a completely free and confidential service. Our Wellbeing Advisors can help you with a wide range of issues including stress, homesickness, low mood and anxiety. They can also help you access wider support services such as for eating disorders, drug and alcohol use, sexual health and bereavement. To access us you will first need to register, using our registration form which you can download from the Student Wellbeing section of the website. Complete the registration form and either email it to [email protected] or drop it in to our reception in Talbot House during opening hours.
We’ll then invite you an initial assessment appointment - this is a half hour chat where you can discuss your situation and get some initial support. Your Wellbeing Advisor will help you decide the best support option for you and talk you through what happens next.
If you’re not sure about registering, have a quick question, want to find out more about the service or are worried about a friend, you’re welcome to come along to one of our drop-in sessions. which take place during term-time every Tuesday at 3:30 - 4:30pm and every Thursday at 12:30 – 1:30pm."
Student Wellbeing is run by Bournemouth University in partnership with Dorset HealthCare University NHS Foundation Trust. Opening hours and more information can be found on our website.