By Luciana Di Mascio, Operations Vice President
Mental Health is finally starting to become a much less tabooed topic, which is great given how important and commonplace mental illness is. But, although mental health is more omnipresent on our screens, how many of us are actually talking about it or know what help is available to us, and those we care about?
DUCFS 2018 is joining with Mind in the hopes of not only raising money for this amazing charity, but also to raise awareness of everything to do with mental health among Durham students.
There are some really great – and really underestimated – services easily accessible to all Durham University students. From college welfare committees to the University’s Counselling Services, there is a huge range of help available for anyone who chooses to take it.
College welfare reps and Nightline are both active listening services that are perfect if you just need a chat with someone in a safe, non-judgemental and impartial environment. The beauty of Nightline, in particular, is that for a lot of people talking with an anonymous stranger can be much less daunting than talking with a friend or family member. Plus, there is no chat too big or too small for them. Even if you aren’t looking for someone to talk to they’re definitely still great options for finding help as they can point you in the right direction. You can find the Nightline number on the back of your campus card and on your DUO homepage – they’re open 9pm-7am every night of term – and info about your college’s welfare page is available through your college’s JCR.
Another option is Heads Up, a DSU society that’s essentially a student-led support group who put on events to get students thinking and talking about mental health. Their core belief is that if people are educated about and are used to speaking openly about mental health, then they are more likely to recognise symptoms of deteriorating mental health and feel that they are able to talk it with others. They offer help to students via their events and their blog, which has heaps of information and resources to support students and their mental health. You can also like Heads Up Durham on Facebook for regular updates on their event.
Beyond these student-led aids, there are still more options for finding help. Every student has an Academic Advisor within their department who is there to help with anything and everything, which includes your mental health. If you’re struggling with academic commitments even in the slightest, then get in touch with them. It’s also probably a good idea for you to consider visiting your GP – the University Health Centre exists to help students, so use it! Once you have been to see a Doctor a whole new realm of professional help becomes available to you, which really can be invaluable. If you don’t feel comfortable heading to the doctors, but still would rather talk to a professional than a peer, then consider getting in touch with the University’s Counselling Services.
There are so many services available to Durham students free of charge – services that many people worldwide don’t have the access or money to use – please make the most of them. As hard as it may seem to make the first step in reaching out for help, it is really there for those who ask for it.