I have been the Mental Health Advisor, part of student support services, at the university for the past 14 years. My role is to support students with managing their mental health and study. I see students with mental health conditions and those who may be worried about their mental wellbeing.
I provide Mental Health Matters training to staff and some workshops through the Recovery College, a joint partnership between the university and mental health services. Outside of work my passion is canals and canal boats.
Are you worried about your mental health during lockdown? There has been a lot of discussion recently in the media about the impact of the pandemic on our mental health. I will be posting about resources that can help you with mental health and studies during this uncertain time.
I have just come across a new service, Clic. It is a new online support community run by Mental Health UK. It can be accessed 24/7 by anyone in the UK for free mental health support. It includes an online forum where you can chat about how you’re feeling and connect with others, as well as accessing mental health information tools, tips and resources. To ensure everyone's safety and security the site is moderated 24 hours a day. You can sign up to the service here.
During Mental Health Awareness Week, we are excited to tell you about a new partnership between the University and the mental fitness app Fika.
In response to the global Covid-19 pandemic, Fika has created a dedicated series of programmes allowing you to learn from expert psychologists, other students and academic staff in five-minute video, audio and text presentations.
These programmes are specifically designed to help combat the challenges of remote study and the mental health impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. Topics covered include managing distractions and uncertainty, maintaining motivation and positivity, staying connected, self-care and healthy habits.
I would like to encourage you to make use of this app during this period of remote study.
There’s also a daily community mental fitness workout. Share your experiences, learn from other members of the community and cheer each other on.
Access to Fika’s COVID-19 package is free for all University of Bedfordshire students.
Give it a go! We all need help in these challenging times to stay mentally fit, connected, motivated and focused.
1. Download Fika: Student Skills app from the Appstore / Google Play store - Click here!
2. Open the app and tap ‘Get started for Free’
4. Search for your institution in the institution list and select
5. Enter your institution email address and a desired password
6. Check your inbox for a verification email and click link within the email
7. Complete registration and enjoy Fika.
MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS WEEK (18 -24 May): KINDNESS
Kindness during the coronavirus outbreak
During this time of uncertainty, there is community, support and hope.
The added benefit of helping others is that it’s good for our own mental health. It can help reduce stress and improve emotional wellbeing – doing good, does you good!
There are lots of things we can do for others to inspire kindness in these exceptional times. Have a look here for some ideas!
What can you do?
1. Pick an idea
2. Take action 3. Let us know what you’ve been doing [email protected]
The Mental Wellbeing Team will post your acts of kindness on the blog we’ll be running during Mental Health Awareness Week (18-24 May).
Mark Rowland, Chief Executive of the Mental Health Foundation, said: “Now more than ever, we need to re-discover kindness in our daily lives.
“We want to use Mental Health Awareness Week to celebrate the thousands of acts of kindness that are so important to our mental health.
“One thing we have seen all over the world is that kindness is prevailing in uncertain times, helping people to connect and communities to cope with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
“The research clearly supports this – it shows that acts of kindness can help improve emotional wellbeing. This is true whether we are giving or receiving it.”
There has been a lot of discussion about how we can look after our mental health especially at this time when we are feeling more isolated and unable to be with others that we care about. I have been looking at the 5 ways to wellbeing. They are one way in which we can improve and maintain good mental health.
Make sure to keep in touch with friends and family by phone and social media. You could even think about writing a letter or sending a card to someone you have lost touch with.
2. Be Active
You may not be able to exercise at a gym or play sport, but you can still walk or run. Have a look to see what exercise videos are online. Active Luton are doing regular sessions. For those of us who can only do limited exercise it is still possible to find some gentle exercise to try.
3. Learn new skills
Is there something you have always wanted to try but didn’t have the time. Maybe a new craft, play an instrument, learn about other cultures and countries. My son recently did a virtual tour of Vegas.
Are you able to volunteer? There are a lot of voluntary group that need help currently such as the Food Bank. Is there someone in our neighbourhood who needs help to get shopping?
5. Take Notice.
Take time to look at the world around you. Notice the flowers that you may find in the cracks on the pavement. Try to be present in the now rather than worrying about the past of the future.
You may have realised some of these actives fit in well with the theme for Mental Health Awareness Week, acts of kindness. Have a look at this great video from the Mental Health Foundation about why kindness matters.
We all know that being kind is the right thing to do but did you know that kindness is good for you? A little act of kindness can boost your mental health, reduce stress and it can cheer you up to think of some else – not forgetting, of course, to be kind to yourself. It is a path to a society that better protects our mental health. (Mental Health Foundation)
Why don't you send a short message about an act of kindness you have shown to someone, to our email address: [email protected]
I will post it on my blog to inspire others. Rest assured it will be anonymous.
This fun animation demonstrates how kindness is good for our mental health.
Exam stress. It’s that time of year when it feels like your ability to pass or fail a course is dependent on recall of information and understanding of your subject. It seems like you are cramming all the knowledge you have gained into one final test. Many of us worry about the possibility of failure. However, this does not help us to manage exam stress. How do we turn a negative into a positive?
It is important to recognise when we are having these negative thoughts. For example, the first thoughts may be ‘I will fail’. We must question ourselves and say why do we believe this? Have we passed previous exams? If the answer is yes this helps us to see that we have succeeded before. Worry and stress are designed to make us do something to change the situation. There are actions we can take. Have we revised, looked at previous exam papers? These actions can help us to change our mind set from negative to positive. Have a look at this useful resource by study hub about managing exam stress. Click here.
Study hub also has some tips to prepare for exams in their resource library. So, it is the day of the exam and you are starting to feel a little anxious. What can you do? I have found that students have benefited from a simple breathing exercise which I call 7/11 breathing. You may have noticed that sometimes when you are frustrated or trying to calm yourself that you tend to sigh. This technique is based on this, as the purpose is to breathe out for longer that you breathe in.
Try this for a few cycles. If you are asthmatic or having difficulty with your breathing, you may want to shorten the count but remember to breathe out for longer. The counting can also take your mind off your worries. For more information about managing exam stress have a look at the Student Minds website.
I have just come across The Mix, a support service for young people. They support under 25s with issues from mental health to money, from homelessness to finding a job, from break-ups to drugs. You can talk to them via their online community, on social, through a free, confidential helpline or their counselling service. It looks like a really good place to get some online support.
What are you plans for this weekend? You may be busy working, revising for exams or trying to complete your assignment in time for the deadline. Make sure you give yourself time, call a friend, listen to music, watch a film, go out for a walk. Be kind to yourself. Study breaks are important to maintain good mental health.
It can help to make a study plan that fits in with the time that you find is best for you to study. Are you a morning person or do you prefer to study late? Organise you day around a routine that suits you. Take care of your mental health.
Kindness matters every day, not just for Mental Health Awareness week. One of our staff tell us about what she has been doing.
"In response to Mental Health week’s “Be kind” program, I thought I would let you know what I have been doing whilst on lockdown…
I have been sewing…..and sewing…. And sewing…..in total I have made 92 Face masks 97 Headbands with buttons 28 Scrub bags Some have been sold to cover costs but the majority have been donated to charities and hospitals….anyone who works the frontline (so to speak) will have theirs donated free of charge. It’s a small thing in this ever changing world but I felt I could not just sit at home wasting my free time when so many others are putting themselves at risk daily."
A big thanks to all of you who have been kind during mental health awareness week.
How are managing with studying at home? Have you been able to create a study area? It can be difficult to motivate yourself to study when the area you relax in is also the place you have to study. I know many students like to study in the library or on campus, but this is not an a option now. Have a look at this helpful video from a mentor which gives some practical advice on how to study effectively at home.
I have just come across The Wellbeing Thesis. This is an all-inclusive website to support post graduate students with wellbeing, learning and research. The website provides information on improving mental health and helping to navigate the ups and downs of postgraduate research.
Areas covered include:
Our Student Support services are also available to support post graduate students as well as undergraduates so don't hesitate to make contact if you are struggling.