Mental Health Awareness Week

 

Welcome to Mental Health Awareness Week

 

To kick off Mental Health Awareness Week AUSA Advice is putting a spotlight on what mental health means to everyone and how we can support each other through these difficult times and beyond.

Mental health is a spectrum, we all have mental health, it is just at times we may have good mental health and at other times poor mental health.

What can be difficult with mental health issues is that they are often invisible and a lot easier to hide. We all have a front or a 'game face' that we put on when we are not feeling great, but if poor mental health is left unchecked it can increasingly become worse and harder to manage.

That is why AUSA advice is offering a few different talking points and online information this week to help raise awareness and offer support.

 

What to expect this week?

The overall theme of this week is disconnecting, not from people, but from your screens, internet, overwhelming number of stimuli we receive every day. Due to the current circumstances and a lot of learning taking place online, we might feel isolated from others.

AUSA staff, along with your Sabbatical Officers are here to represent you. (https://www.ausa.org.uk/representation/sabbaticals/). This week you will have a chance to:

  • Get to know how AUSA supports students with regards to their health and wellbeing through an interview with Anna (AUSA Advice),
  • Find like-minded people through societies, clubs, groups that build diverse communities at the university,
  • access information on resources available to you to support your journey through the university and enrich your experience,
  • see what the city of Aberdeen, your home away from home, has to offer during your time here.

All of this will culminate in something extremely important for all our mental health during these unprecedented times - switching off. With so many things online, how do you know when it is safe to switch off without missing out important information? Here at AUSA we don’t want you to miss out on any of the activities, but we also recognise the importance of time away from all the noise. Join us on our journey through Mental Health Awareness Week and join us when we take some time off the internet at the end of the week.

What is mental health?

To kick off Mental Health Awareness Week AUSA Advice is putting a spotlight on what Mental health means to everyone and how we can support each other through these difficult times and beyond. Mental health is a spectrum, we all have mental health, it is just at times we may have good mental health and at other times poor mental health. What does mental health mean to you?

AUSA Advice is offering a few different talking points and online information this week to help raise awareness and offer support. We have an interview with AUSA Advice, extensive list of groups that you can join to meet your fellow students and many more. Keep an eye on our social media channels and our website to find out more.

Interview with Anna from AUSA Advice

You can hear form Anna one of our AUSA Advice advisers in an interview on her thoughts on mental health and some tips on how you can be pro-active with managing your own mental health and information on where to find further support.

What is mental health to you?

Mental health is a huge topic and an important one for our student community, as well as in wider society. Particularly in current circumstances there may be more people experiencing mental health  difficulties that have not in the past and is simply compounded issues for those with pre-existing conditions.
Mental health is a spectrum, we all have mental health, it is just at times we may have good mental health and at others poor mental health, much like physical health. What can be difficult with mental health issues is that they are often invisible and a lot easier to hide. We all have a front that we put on when we are not feeling great or our ‘game face’ but if poor mental health is left unchecked it can increasingly become worse and harder to manage.
There are so many topics that come under the banner of mental health, but I would urge anyone who is struggling with low mood, anxiety, depression or any other issues, to take the first step and speak to someone. That can be a friend or family member, a professional, a colleague, whatever works for you. We have a lot of good info on our website and are always here to chat and to help you find what support might work best for you and your situation.


What do you think helps people to reach out when they are struggling?

It can of course be difficult to reach out when you are struggling and often the very nature of some mental health issues can make this even harder. However if you are able to take the first step and contact someone just to talk you are likely to find that whoever you contact will be willing to listen and talk through things with you, and maybe support you to make plans for the next steps you may want to take to get further support.
I think that knowing what support is available through different avenues can help you make the decision on who you can contact, and perhaps make you feel more confident that you will get the help you are looking for. The longer you keep difficult feelings and emotions to yourself the harder they can become to control and manage, get support with it, don’t do it alone.


Having been working from home during lockdown, how have you coped and what have you found the most useful strategies?

We are all trying to get to grips with the new ways of working or studying from home and this can be particularly difficult if your home environment is not necessarily conducive to having quiet time to concentrate. Trying to have a dedicated work area can be good, however if you can try and close this area off or put it away when you are not working, so that when you are trying to relax in the same space you don’t have a visual reminder of work.
When you are working and living in the same space it can be really difficult to separate work/study time from relaxation time. Try setting a schedule for yourself and stick to it, making sure to take regular breaks during your work/study. A good tip that has worked for me is at the end of my working day, as I no longer have my commute as a notable switch from work to home, I make sure I go outside for a walk or to my greenhouse to recreate that physical and mental transition from work to home.


With the current climate what are your top 5 tips to maintaining good mental health?

My top 5 tips for maintain good mental health are:
1 – Talk about your feelings and reflect on those discussions and what learning you can take from them in order to move forward.
2 – give yourself a break – we are often our own worst critics, be kinder to yourself and try to identify when you are being down on yourself – when you notice it, tell yourself that it is ok to feel how you feel and that you are only human.
3- do some self-work, whether that is online CBT or counselling sessions, reading about mental health and how to help yourself is really useful, it helps develop resilience and your own personal resources so you feel more equipped to manage periods of poor mental health. Understanding how you work and how your brain works can feel extremely empowering.
4 – get outside – fresh air and exercise are excellent medicine whenever you are struggling with your Mental health – release those feel good chemicals in your brain – it may be that the last thing you want to do is leave the comfort of your home when you are feeling low, but I promise you if you get out you will feel better for it even if it is just for a short walk.
5- have a hobby – having something else that you can focus your time on and something that provides a bit of escapism for you – this really can be anything that you enjoy and that you get satisfaction from. Learning a new skill or trying a new sport or activity can help with your confidence and a feeling of achievement. Anything that you can do that you know has the possibility of boosting your mood and actively schedule time to do this.

Find your Peers

Whether it’s to make friends, get support for your studies or just to find someone to talk to, these links will hopefully help you meet new people.    

Official AUSA Freshers’ Week Facebook Group 
Aberdeen Uni Students- COVID-19 Community Group

Official University Facebook Groups: 
International Centre - University of Aberdeen  
UoA Accommodation 2020 
UoA PGT Group 
UoA PGR Group 
University of Aberdeen Offer Holders 2020 
University of Aberdeen Online Learners 
University of Aberdeen Online Access Learners 

Society and Student Facebook Groups: 
Aberdeen University African Caribbean Society 2019/20 
Aberdeen University Conservation Society  
North American Students at the University of Aberdeen 
Aberdeen University Archaeology Society  
Aberdeen University Dental Society 
Aberdeen University Mature Student Society 
Aberdeen Uni Students- COVID-19 Community Group 
AU LGBTQ+ Members Forum 
Disabled Students' Forum Group

Sports Facebook Groups:  
Aberdeen University Surf Club 
Aberdeen University Lairig Club  
Aberdeen University Cricket Club 

Schools Facebook Groups and Pages: 
University of Aberdeen PGDE Primary 2020  
University of Aberdeen Business Students (Student-lead, Unofficial Group)   
University of Aberdeen Engineering Students, Level 3 2020/2021 
University of Aberdeen Divinity & Religious Studies  
University of Aberdeen PDGE Secondary (All Subjects) 2020/2021 
School of Biological Sciences UG Students and Staff Page – University of Aberdeen   
https://www.facebook.com/AbdnEngineering/   

Internal and external resources for support

AUSA Advice 
Aberdeen Students Nightline
Student Advice and Support Office
Counselling
Chaplaincy
Local Aberdeen counselling service, Hope Counselling
Student Minds
Student Minds (specifically dealing with COVID-19 impact)
Togetherall
Mental Health Aberdeen
Penumbra
ACVO
SAMH
Mood Juice
Living Life to the Full 

Switch off with us this Saturday

Switch off with us this Saturday. Looking for ideas what to do offline? Look no fruther. 

- Try a traditional Scottish recipe
Traditional Haggis, Neeps and Tatties. For a veggie or vegan options, you can buy ready made haggis or make your own.
Scottish Shortbread. Traditional RecipeVegan option
Cullen Skink. Traditional Recipe. For a veggie soup, try this Scotch Broth.
Cranachan. Traditional RecipeVegan Cranachan recipe.
Stovies. Traditional RecipeVegetarian Recipe.

- Exercise

- Get some fresh air in:
Duthie Park
Cruickshank Botanic Gardens
Hazelhead Park
Old Deeside Railway Line
Aberdeen Beach

- Take a scenic walk around Aberdeen (click the links find the locations on Google Maps)
Aberdeen Coastal Trail
Aberdeen Granite Trail
Aberdeen Sculpture and Curios Trail
Aberdeen Maritime Trail
Old Aberdeen Trail

- Pick up a new book or one that you already started

- Tidy up or organise your study/work space

- Do laundry

- Try a new DIY project

- Journal

- Meditate

- Doodle

- Make a list of things you are grateful for

- Watch one of the movies filmed in Scotland
Harry Potter - Glenfinnan
Braveheart
Avenger's Infinity War – Edinburgh
James Bond, Skyfall - Glen Etive
World War Z – Glasgow

- Call someone you love

- Listen to your favourite music

- Show someone a random act of kindness

- Self-care