Much as we try and provide useful information sat here in our offices, there’s still an intrinsic disconnect between our staff and student life. Whilst we may have happy memories of our uni days in the late 1990s it’s probably not much of a stretch to assume that things have changed a touch since then. Fortunately we have students like Gemma, a Wellbeing Champion, who are happy to get involved and share their experiences. We’ll let Gemma take over here… 

University signifies a journey into the unknown, asking its students to take a leap of faith, to trust in the campus community and to have faith in oneself and one’s ability to be successful when faced with a multitude of novel challenges. For many students, the transition to university is a time of nerve-wracking excitement. It provides a developmental milestone whereby students are able to grow into unique individuals who seek to contribute towards the wider academic society. Students arrive on their chosen campus wide-eyed and enthusiastic, yet partially reserved and cautious. Underneath this hopeful adventure, students are often faced with heightened pressure in most aspects of their new life. These include, but are not limited to: the want to please their loved ones by succeeding at university, the knock to their self-esteem when they proceed onto a higher level of academic learning and the doubt that arises about their belief of their own abilities, and the need for affiliation with others. Students often need to adapt to their new environment quickly, learning how to live away from home for the first time and the responsibilities that this brings, being responsible for their own learning, whilst also trying to meet acquaintances to avoid feeling lonely in a new city, town or area.

It is for this reason that mental health difficulties are prevalent among the student population. According to Student Minds, anxiety and depression are commonly experienced, along with eating disorders, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and psychosis; 33% of students are now thought to experience psychological distress. It is for this reason that the University of Hull Student Wellbeing, Learning and Welfare Support (SWLWS) initiated a duo of peer-support projects, namely: The Wellbeing Champions and the Hull Uni Angels. The Wellbeing Champions are a team of students who promote good mental health, whilst also signposting students to the university support services and local mental health charities. The Hull Uni Angels provide their presence on campus by keeping students safe on evenings, specifically related to activities within the university nightclub, Asylum, and various campus bars. As volunteers, the Champions and Angels are trained to offer peer support to all students and reinforce the multifaceted support paradigm located within the campus.

The SWLWS, Wellbeing Champions and Hull Uni Angels would like to invite all students, new and existing, to join our campaign to improve mental health on campus. For us, this journey begins by:

STEP 1: MEETING NEW PEOPLE

The societies and sports teams provide a fantastic avenue for making new friends. They provide sessions relevant to their group, whilst also engaging in social events. Further, they allow students to develop new skills. For instance, the Debate Society is a good avenue for developing public speaking skills and growing in confidence, especially as an aid to giving an academic presentation. A list of available societies and sports teams can be located on: https://hullstudent.com/opportunities/list

STEP 2: DISCUSS MENTAL WELLBEING

The best way to eliminate the stigma of mental health difficulties is to normalise the topic by talking about it. As a society, we often place our physical health before our mental health and up until recently, talking about the physical aspects of our wellbeing has been a more socially acceptable topic of conversation. The University of Hull invites you to discuss your feelings with the SWLWS (located on the 2nd floor of Student Central), your peers and the Wellbeing Champions. The wellbeing team host a number of events throughout the academic year offering students the opportunity to engage with the wellbeing advisors, find out more about the support available to them and gain tips on how to reduce stress and improve their own wellbeing. For example, the team annually support Mental Health Awareness Week.

Mental Health Awareness Week campaign, 2018
Mental Health Awareness Week campaign, 2018: Two of our Wellbeing Champions, Matthew and Catherine with Pet Respect Therapy dogs.

STEP 3: RECOGNISE CHANGES IN YOURSELF AND YOUR PEERS

As humans, we are not always the first person to witness changes in our own mental wellbeing. Sometimes, whether intentionally or not, we gain an ‘accountability friend’; a friend who knows you well enough to highlight when they think you are struggling and require support. The wellbeing services encourage all students to be mindful of their own mindset and any changes in behaviour that they perceive in others. By educating ourselves about the help available at the University of Hull, we can share our knowledge with others. The hope is that, eventually, every person on campus will know who to approach to discuss their concerns.

It is worth noting that the University of Hull offer legal, spiritual, immigration and housing advice. They also support students in emotional wellbeing, learning difficulties and physical disabilities. The university hosts an advisory team for each of these areas, all of which are located within Student Central. Appointments can be made with an advisor at the AskHU desk, located on the 2nd floor of Student Central or by calling 01482 462222. Should you be experiencing difficulties that are affecting your studies, you can also approach your academic tutor who can offer guidance on the help available at the university.

Students can raise a welfare concern for themselves or a peer by going to:

https://www.hull.ac.uk/choose-hull/student-life/student-support/looking-after-yourself/raise-a-concern.aspx

Welfare concerns will be received by a wellbeing advisor, who can reach-out to the student in question, as and when appropriate.

If you’re interested in volunteering as a Wellbeing Champion or a Hull Uni Angel, please contact the Project Coordinator (Rob, Wellbeing Officer) via the following email addresses:

WellbeingChampions@hull.ac.uk

UniAngels@hull.ac.uk