Building confidence in discussing mental health.
For Uni Mental Health Day 2019, RUSU and the University of Reading teamed up to see how we could help students. Dan, RUSU Welfare Officer, led our Uni Mental Health Day campaign, across a week, which aimed to raise awareness of students’ mental health and empowering them to use their voices to discuss topics surrounding mental health. Across the week Dan put on a variety of activities but the two that stood out the most were his Coffee Morning with the Lacrosse Sports Club and the Positivi-tree.
Earlier on in the academic year, Lacrosse President Harry approached Dan with the interest of collaborating on a mental health event. Using the opportunity to cover Uni Mental Health Day and his Time to Talk campaign, a campaign focused around mental health conversations within RUSU, Dan organised a Coffee Morning, including both the Women’s and Men’s Lacrosse teams.
It was really quite student-led, I asked questions and they led the conversation and it was quite a safe space.
A lot of the students found the Coffee Morning very useful, so much so that Lacrosse wanted to host another similar event and have recently had a psychologist visit them to speak about mental health. As the Coffee Morning went so well, Dan is rolling them out as part of the Time to Talk campaign as an everyday event. He will also be reaching out to student-led groups soon to find out who would like to be attend.
This is why I do my job, for these sorts of moments.
Lacrosse explained to Dan how real they found the Coffee Morning; how useful it was, especially for Men’s Lacrosse, because they wouldn’t normally discuss mental health. Something Dan found fascinating was that Women’s Lacrosse discuss these topics regularly and are very open about emotions.
I hope they enjoyed it and found it useful. I’ve seen some of them since and they said how good it was, so thank you to Lacrosse
For the rest of the week, Dan held a Positivi-tree stall in RUSU which featured a tree drawn on a large chalkboard with leaf-shaped sticky-notes. Those passing by were asked to highlight something they are glad of this year, to get people thinking positively as it’s too easy to look at the negative side of things first.
When asked for advice he would give to Gemma, the next Welfare Officer, if she wanted to run a similar campaign, he said:
I would say to Gemma, start planning in September. You need six months if you want a speaker. What I’ve found is you need to give them lots of time to think about it, so literally get in contact before students come back and get your date in. Talk to people and see what students are looking for, what they need, and tailor it to them.