Student Minds: Campaigning for better mental health support at university

As the winter months slowly engulf us with freezing temperatures, so does the likes of depression and ‘SAD’. Some who live with mental health issues, according to the Independent, say that it is the build up to Christmas that is the hardest.

UNIfied spoke to the president of Christ Church’s Student Minds society, Adam Parsons, about what they have planned in order to better mental health and wellbeing support for students at CCCU.

What is Student Minds?

Student Minds is the UK’s leading student mental health charity: “We empower students and members of the university community to develop the knowledge, confidence and skills to look after their own mental health, support others and create change.”

Christ Church’s Student Minds society president said that, “The main aim of the society is campaigning for better mental health and wellbeing services at CCCU.”

“Student Minds specifically deals with campaigns to make sure that the mental health of students is looked after, to make sure the resources are there, to make sure the university actually bothers to listen, because that rarely happens, and just to help the general wellbeing of students.”

What are CCCU’s Student Mind’s main aims? 

CCCU’s Student Minds Society believe that there ‘really needs’ to be at least one Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) trained member of staff in each school, with a full day course specialising in higher education.

“We want to try and make sure that every school in the university has at least one member of staff fully MHFA trained specifically with higher education. There are members of staff around the university that do have MHFA training, but most of them have the half day course which is not specific to higher education.”

The training they have received is the literal bare minimum,” CCCU Student Minds Society President says.

“We also want each wellbeing officer in societies to be trained too,” Adam told Unified.

MHFA training in higher education teaches those learning to: listen, reassure and respond, even in a crisis or potentially stop a crisis from happening. The higher education training is specifically designed for anyone who works in or studies in a university environment.

“I know in certain schools, when I’ve spoken to people who have talked to their lecturers about their mental health, and their response has been ‘get over it‘”, he said.

Adam explained, that some departments are heading in the right direction: “The law department are far better, they have an overall personal academic tutor. A special tutor that deals with mental health issues on top of everything else. That’s an amazing push forward, but I would still like them to have a MHFA.”

Mental Health First Aid training

Finance struggles

The cost for training, according to Adam, will cost £200 per person. With 11 schools in the university that’s £2,200

“It’ll cost them next to nothing to get someone trained in mental health first aid,” Adam Parsons says, Student Minds Society President.

Megan McDonnell, Social Secretary for CCCU’s Women’s Lacrosse said, “That’s a brilliant idea. It would greatly help not only our wellbeing officer, but also our players if a member of the team could be Mental Health First Aid trained.

“Even if the wellbeing officer were to be reelected every year, it would still be beneficial because that would mean more members of the team would be trained.”

What about MHFA training for accommodation security staff?

With three CCCU students sadly passing away in the last year, is it time for accommodation security staff to be trained in MHFA too?

“I’ve already spoken to Jamie Harris at the SU, he wants to have the accommodation security staff MHFA trained as well. I know that’s definitely something he’s trying to move on at the moment so that’s good,” Adam said.

St George’s Accommodation

What else have you got planned? 

CCCU Student minds have a lot planned this year.

Including stalls in the library and across the campus, with resources sent from Student Mind’s head office.

Adam explained, “We’re going to be asking students what their thoughts are and what their issues are, if any, because it could be that we are completely wrong. We want to underpin what CCCU student’s main issues are with mental health are in relation to the university.”

Why should you get involved in Christ Church’s Student Minds Society? 

CCCU’s Student Minds Society is open to all, costing as little as £1.

The team currently consists of 14 members but Adam is urging more students to join up.

He continued: “Students are more than welcome to come and talk to us. We can’t get anything changed or campaigned if we don’t know what the issues are. We are mental health first aid trained, so if people come along and need to talk, that’s absolutely fine,” he said.

“I see no reason by January that we don’t have 50 members, at least, that’s what I want. The more students that join us – the bigger our voices, the more the university has to listen. It’s easy to ignore 14 students, it’s less easy to ignore 50.

“Even if you’re doing it merely to lend your voice, you’re still interacting someway and still helping other students as well as yourself. So there’s no reason, not to.”

You can follow CCCU Student Minds on Twitter.

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