World Mental Health Day 2019
Today is World Mental Health Day, which is celebrated on 10th October every year in order to raise awareness of and support for mental health issues all over the globe. This year’s focus is suicide prevention.
Suicide is tragically one of the leading causes of death among 15-19 year-olds. For many young people, the teenage years are a time of exploring new opportunities and freedoms, but they can also be a time of anxiety about academic performance, relationships and the future. Occasional emotional distress is normal in adolescence, but if the distress becomes long-lasting or overwhelming, it can lead to difficulty in everyday functioning.
Mental ill health is just as important a consideration as poor physical health, as it can have a number of serious implications. Good mental health is not simply the absence of diagnosable mental health problems, although good mental health is likely to help protect against development of many such problems. Good mental health is characterised by a person’s ability to fulfil a number of key functions and activities, including:
- the ability to learn
- the ability to feel, express and manage a range of positive and negative emotions
- the ability to form and maintain good relationships with others
- the ability to cope with and manage change and uncertainty.
As part of ongoing efforts to provide a positive and supportive learning environment for all students, Greene’s recently appointed an in-house Counsellor and Mental Health Lead in Oxford, who meets with any student who would like to have an assessment and makes recommendations for how Greene’s can help them in their studies, in addition to further clinical intervention if needed. The key advantage of an internal specialist is that, given the usual consent, they can confer directly with the students’ tutors to advise of any accommodations that need to be made. In a small, close-knit college like Greene’s, we are better equipped to spot early warning signs of deteriorating mental health, and intervene before students reach crisis point.
Various charities and organisations dedicated to mental health have advice on how to maintain good mental health during times of high stress and change, including:
- Talk about your feelings: Talking about your feelings can help you stay in good mental health and deal with times when you feel troubled.
- Keep active: Regular exercise can boost your self-esteem and can help you concentrate, sleep, and look and feel better.
- Eat well: What we eat may affect how we feel – for example, caffeine and sugar can have an immediate effect. But food can also have a long-lasting effect on your mental health. Your brain needs a mix of nutrients in order to stay healthy and function well, just like the other organs in your body. A diet that’s good for your physical health is also good for your mental health.
- Ask for help: None of us is superhuman. We all sometimes get tired or overwhelmed by how we feel or when things don’t go to plan.
- Take a break: A change of scene or a change of pace is good for your mental health.
- Do something you’re good at: What do you love doing? What activities can you lose yourself in? What did you love doing in the past? Enjoying yourself can help beat stress. Doing an activity you enjoy probably means you’re good at it, and achieving something boosts your self-esteem.
- Accept who you are: Some of us make people laugh, some are good at maths, and others cook fantastic meals. Some of us share our lifestyle with the people who live close to us, others live very differently. We’re all different. It’s much healthier to accept that you’re unique than to wish you were more like someone else.
If you are struggling with your mental health, there are a number of resources available to help:
- Call 111 for NHS medical support and advice
- Call the Oxford Samaritans on 01865 722122 if you need to talk to someone
- Visit the Mind.org.uk website for self-help tips
- If you’re a Greene’s student, contact Debbie to arrange a meeting, or talk to your Personal Tutor, the Principal, or the Director of Studies to find out how they may be able to support you.