Student Wellbeing Champion, Steph, writes about her experience volunteering for the project.
Who are the Wellbeing Champions?
Wellbeing Champions are a group of students who volunteer within the University of Hull Student Wellbeing, Learning and Welfare Support services. The purpose of the Wellbeing Champions is to raise awareness about the student services that are available, to increase knowledge on emotional wellbeing and to signpost students to the relevant services that they might need.
What made you want to become a wellbeing champion?
As I entered into my final year of University I decided that I would do the opposite of many other students and add to my workload rather than taking away from it. In this way, I applied to be part of the new team of Wellbeing Champions – a project that we would be pioneering in the hopes of raising awareness of mental health around campus. It was an incredible opportunity as mental health awareness is something that I have been passionate about for years since I was diagnosed with various conditions. I have wanted to increase the understanding of mental health illnesses and this seemed like the perfect opportunity for me. Once I had been given one of the spots on this new team, that’s when the work really began.
Your role as a wellbeing champion
Being a Wellbeing Champion shouldn’t really be considered work though. The initial 2 days training took a couple of days out of an already busy schedule, but they were carried out on days before the University Term started and it was a great opportunity to meet people that I wouldn’t necessarily have met otherwise! At the start of this project championing wellbeing was all about being visible on campus, being a channel to the mental health services at uni and just simply being someone who anybody could come and talk to about anything. We had bright orange tops, so it was pretty hard to miss us! As we got further into the year, days such as the tea and talk were brought in, which was a great way to get the word out about us and to encourage people to talk about mental health in general. We had the mental health tree where people could write a few words about what they did to look after themselves on a word bubble and tie it to the tree, which gave others new ideas too. We also had a stall on University Mental Health Day, to remind students that they’re not alone and we encouraged people to come and say hi and take some tips on stress busting in the run up to assignment deadlines. I like to think that I made a difference, even to just one person, even if it wasn’t big. The important thing I think for all of us was that we were around if anyone needed us and we helped to raise awareness of mental health in general. We helped to reduce the stigma that surrounds it and make it easier for people to talk if they are struggling.
What have you gained from becoming a Wellbeing Champion?
On top of this, I think I’ve gained a great deal from this experience and I wish I was staying another year at University just so I had the chance to be part of this amazing project for another year. I’ve grown in confidence, surrounded myself with a number of new friends and been part of something bigger surrounding mental health. Not only that, but I think I’ve helped some family and friends back home too. By talking about what I’ve been doing at uni, they’ve been able to open up to me and it’s great that I’ve been able to help them too.
What would you say to anyone else wanting to get involved in the project.
This has been one of the most rewarding parts of my time at university and it’s something that I would encourage others to be a part of. Even if you don’t have a particular passion for raising mental health awareness, you gain a greater understanding of how the university works and you can find yourself with an awesome bunch of new friends.
JUST DO IT. Don’t hold back on anything – go out there and be a presence.’
If you would like more information about the Student Wellbeing Champion project, please contact the Health and Wellbeing team at the University of Hull via firstname.lastname@example.org