Christ Church’s Mental Health Committee member, Ryan Mairs talks all about what University Mental Health Day means to him.
Mental health awareness is rarely spoken of but more as been put into place over the last few years to support those who are suffering in silence.
The 1st of March was University Mental Health Day and it should not go unnoticed. Mental health within higher education is more common than you think, with statistics of those disclosing mental health, doubling to almost five times to what it was 10 years ago. This shows that mental health has got worse and more needs to be put into place to help support students.
We sat down with Ryan Mairs, CCCU Mental Health Committee member and creator of Mairsy Let’s Talk to discuss his views on mental health in higher education.
Do you think mental health awareness is raised enough around CCCU?
Personally no, but it is good to see they are making steps forward.
What does mental health mean to you?
Mental health to me means balance and understanding that your thoughts and negative feelings are temporary. I enjoy the good times as much as I can and am grateful for the journey.
As odd as it may sound we have a lot of control over a lot of how we feel, granted not always the case depending on the severity of an individual’s condition but for me a lot my issues came from the environment I was in and people I was around. I changed my environment and it changed my life.
Have you suffered with mental health in higher education?
I’ve had moments where I’ve almost been overwhelmed. In my first year of University I actually had to get my mother sectioned into hospital relating to her mental illness…that was admittedly very tough as it not only effected myself and my mother but also house mates. They were very understanding and supportive and got me through a pretty tough time.
What helped you improve your mental health?
I improved my mental health through informal methods such as playing sport, socializing, and allocating “me time”, once I found a balance I became a lot happier. It’s been a tough self-discovery process. I think I have read around 10 self-help books and thought they were great!
Do you think the university could do more?
Absolutely, but so could the government, so could we as humans but we are becoming more aware and it’s a start! We could always do more.
What do you do on the mental health committee for the university?
At the moment I just contribute in the meetings but I will be getting hands on with future campaigns to help defeat stigma, raise awareness and improve services for our students and staff.
Do you have experience helping those with mental health?
Yes, I run my own platform as such called Mairsy Let’s Talk that helps individuals know they are not alone and there is someone who has come out of the other side with open arms, ears and heart.
What advice do you have if someone is struggling with mental health nut is struggling to come to terms with it?
The best thing I did was not fight and convince myself there wasn’t a problem. When I finally admitted to myself and to others it was a big weight off my shoulders. I think the best advice I could give is NOT panic. We are prone to run straight to Google and self-diagnose. Talk to someone close to you that you trust, if not go straight to a GP or University Service. They CAN help. You will be surprised how many people care and want to help.
What do you think could be done to improve the knowledge of mental health for young people?
You HAVE to make it appealing, it’s the same with any educational process, people have to want to engage with it. There are so many varied informal methods that advocates are implementing these days and its making an impact.
Here at CCCU the University will be singing the ‘Time to Change’ pledge that shows commitment to raising awareness and supporting mental health.
If you do not want to speak to anyone face to face about your mental health please do not be afraid to contact BigWhiteWall, a free 24 hour service or contact the University Mental Health Team on: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01277 824848.