Having been involved in founding and being on the committee of the Mental Health Campaign at UWE Students’ Union  addressing young suicide is something that I am really passionate about, I have a long term mental health problem, I have depression and in the past have had suicidal thoughts or make plans to end my life, because of this I had to leave Plymouth University and return home taking a year out before I came to UWE. I don’t want other young people to feel like they have to be ashamed for what is an illness. I am a strong believer that one of the best ways people can be encouraged to get help is by reducing the stigma of mental health and making it a more acceptable thing to talk about. By Will Anderson.

papyrus logoThis is one of the reasons we recently ran a workshop with the charity PAPYRUS (Prevention of Young Suicide)  for staff and students designed to “help participants identify when a young person may be at risk of suicide, equip participants with the skills and knowledge to approach that young person and address their needs, as well as providing a safe environment for participants to ask any questions they have about suicide”. We were clearly told at the start that it is an intense topic for some people and should they need to leave they can, but despite this warning the talk was an eye opening affair and gave us some shocking statistics (200,000  people go to A+E every year due to self harm for example). The talk helped me to understand my depression and why I have felt suicidal in the past. I hope I will never have to use the skills that I have learnt in the workshop however in having them I know that all of the organising the Mental Health Campaign did towards the talk was worth it completely.

Siân Hampson the Vice President of the Mental Health Campaign said “It was a really eye opening experience for me but I’m really glad we ran the talk as it was helpful to talk about suicide so openly to move towards breaking down the stigma that surrounds it. We are currently looking into running more talks like it.”

Tom Renhard the UWESU Vice President Community and Welfare said of the talk “The work of the Mental Health Campaign has been extremely important this year, particularly with the grassroots student-led nature of the campaign. It is hoped we will be able to do more of these types of talks in the future and continue to educate the student body on the importance of looking after one’s own Mental Health as well as keeping eye out for friends and peers and signposting to necessary support and wellbeing services where necessary.

Will Anderson is the president of the UWESU Mental Health Campaign, go to http://www.uwesu.org/network/MentalHealthCampaign/ or email us on uwementalhealthawareness@gmail.com to get involved with mental health awareness at UWE.