When everything is not as it was and we are all trying to figure out what our new normal is, it is more important than ever that we find a way to be kind to ourselves and others and take care of our mental health.
It is Mental Health Awareness Week 2020 and at King’s, our staff and students are working to understand mental health and we can transform care for people who are affected through, education, research and training.
Watch Dr Juliet Foster Social Psychologist, Dean of Education academic lead for mental health and wellbeing at the IoPPN talk to Dr Nicola Byrom senior lecturer in Psychology, director of the student mental health research network SMaRteN and founder of the Student Minds the student mental health charity discuss the need for universities to continue to focus on student mental health in the face of the pandemic.
Mental health in higher education has become an area of increasing interest over recent years. With reports of a ‘student mental health crisis’ university support services have had to consider new ways to boost student wellbeing and support students at risk.
Before coming to King’s, one of the things that drew me most was how friendly and supportive the university felt throughout the application process. As an abroad student, I wanted to make sure I was coming to a place where I felt comfortable and safe, which would allow me to thrive during my university years. I soon experienced the great ups and not so great downs of university life, and during this process, I realised just how many support systems there are in place for students at King’s.
This mental health awareness week we want to share some of the different ways you can support your wellbeing whilst at university, particularly what support is available at King’s. Given the current situation, with students managing a great deal of uncertainty and worry, it has become more important than ever to be properly equipped and informed on how to manage our wellbeing!
Support at King’s
As we all know, our wellbeing is multifaceted and can be influenced by a million different things in our daily lives. For a student, this includes coping with independence, keeping up with academic work, struggles with finances, keeping in touch with family and friends, etc. Whatever the source of your worries may be, there are many different services you can access within the university, designed specially to help you during this experience.
- Personal Tutor: At the beginning of first year you’ll be assigned a personal tutor who will stick with you throughout the whole of your degree. Personal tutors are normally teachers or other members of staff of the BSc Psychology department and will be your first port of call for any academic issue. They can offer tips on managing workload, writing CVs and cover letters, deferring assessments, etc. And for issues not directly related to the course, they are usually able to point you in the right direction for the appropriate support. Personally, my personal tutor has been an amazing source of help during my time at King’s, playing a crucial part in helping me find a summer internship between first and second year!
- Student Services: For generic university advice the know-it-all’s on campus are the Student Service team. They have a desk at almost every King’s library where you can find someone ready to help with anything from module registrations, visa applications, finances and budgeting, to housing tips.
- King’s Counselling Services: For concerns regarding mental health, King’s offers free and confidential counselling to all undergraduate and postgraduate students. Whether you’re struggling with study-related stress, depression, anxiety, or anything else, you can request an assessment session where they will evaluate your needs and determine what the best help pathway is, whether that’s in the form of talking therapy with a university counsellor, CBT, or an external referral.
- KCLSU Advice: Another great source of help can be found with the student union. They offer advice on anything from academic appeals to housing, health, and wellbeing. This can be accessed online, through the phone, or in person, always free and confidential.
- The Positive Peers: Last, but by no means least, are the positive peers. Never undermine the power of peer support! Research has found that students are more likely to disclose mental health concerns with other students. We’re all on the same boat and sometimes what you need most is a chat with someone who just ‘gets it’. Positive Peers are a group of trained students at the KCLSU that run various workshops and activities to help you support your wellbeing and thrive at uni. They are also available for one-to-one chats in person or over social media.
Remember, whatever your concern, there is always someone who will be willing to listen and help. University can be a tough time, and with the addition of the current situation, things can seem overwhelming. However, as a student at King’s, you have plenty of services available designed specifically to make your journey more enjoyable. In the words of High School Musical, ‘we’re all in this together’!
If you are struggling and need support, you can get in touch with these services and organisations which offer help and support directly:
- Talk to the Samaritans – they offer emotional 24-hour emotional support in full confidence. You can call them for free on 116 123 / firstname.lastname@example.org
- Shout Crisis Text Line – you can text Shout to 85258 if you are experiencing a personal crisis, are unable to cope and need support
- Rethink Mental Illness – you can call Rethink Mon-Fri 10am-2pm on 0300 5000 927 (calls are charged at your local rate) for practical advice on therapy and medication, financial issues, police, courts, prison and your rights under the Mental Health Act
- Mind – you can call the Mind Infoline on 0300 123 3393 / email@example.com, the Mind Legal Advice service on 0300 466 6463 / firstname.lastname@example.org
- Speak to somebody you trust
- Talk to your GP