Having the confidence to talk

I’m sure many people will visualise collecting their degrees with their housemates and celebrating with each other. Share your success! Choosing recovery is being brave. You deserve a high five for every day you say no to living with an eating disorder and walking through the door to a ‘well done’ is a service your housemates can provide.

~ Let’s Have “The Talk”, ReCover magazine, p12

Everyone needs support from their friends whilst at university. From essay crises and exam stress to figuring out what you want to do with your life, studying at university can involve a whole range of challenges. And yet university is also a time when you’re surrounded by classmates, friends and housemates, so you don’t need to struggle on alone – so many of the challenges we face can be made to feel more manageable simply by having a chat over a cup of tea.

This week our eating disorder support groups will be discussing how to talk to housemates and friends about your mental health, so we thought we’d put together a few ideas and tips on how to get the conversation started…

  • Think about who you’d like to talk to: who do you feel comfortable with and who do you feel would be able to support you?
  • Find somewhere where you feel comfortable and where you can have a relaxed conversation without being interrupted. Sometimes it’s easier to talk openly when the focus isn’t just on the conversation you’re having… why not suggest going for a walk together?
  • You might want to write down some of the things you want to say, either just to prompt yourself or as a letter to give to your friend.
  • Your friend will probably want to know if they can help in any way, so you might like to think about whether there is anything you would like support on. This could be something as simple as knowing that your friend is on the end of the phone if you’re having a hard time and need someone to talk to.
  • Be prepared for your friend to be concerned or to ask questions. They may feel a little out of their depth, so you might like to have some information to hand to help you explain.
  • Remember that the Student Minds eating disorder support groups are a safe space where you can discuss any anxiety you might feel about opening up to your friends. You might like to role-play how to open the conversation, or simply ask whether anyone has any experiences or tips they’d like to share.

Want to find out more? Here are some articles on talking to friends…

How about you? Have you spoken to a friend about your mental health? Do you have any tips or advice you’d like to share? We’d love to hear from you! Please do comment below or send an email to rosanna@studentminds.org.uk.


Talking Changes Lives

~ Hannah O’Brien

Talking Changes Lives Logo

You may have heard lots about student run support groups at university. There are groups running for an array of mental health problems, including eating disorders. These groups are likely to mainly focus on talking, or what Psychologists know as “the talking cure”. However, a lot of you may be thinking, ”well what good is that gonna do? How will just talking about my problems help, surely that won’t help me recover?”

Well, for starters these support groups can act as a great motivation for recovery. All too often there are long waiting lists for NHS care and it can be scary to take that extra step towards recovery. The Student Minds support groups therefore aim to help maintain motivation for recovery while you wait, encourage confidence and build self-esteem. Just talking it out with someone can make you feel empowered and strong enough to stay on the road to recovery.

Also, students have a tendency to “confide in and seek help from peers”. They find the idea of talking to other students who have faced similar experiences attractive, and 84% of those accessing peer support find the service helpful.

One particularly difficult aspect of having an eating disorder is that your social world may crumble as you isolate yourself from society, so having this one social group of peers and supporters who share some of the same experiences as you can help you feel more involved and allow you to discuss issues you may not have been comfortable expressing with others.

After finding the courage to come to our group sessions, students suffering from eating disorders have described Student Minds as:

“The single biggest contributor to my recovery this year”
“I feel so well understood.”
“The only reason I’ve gone through recovery so quickly”
“That is what student support should look like.”

So, Student Minds believes in empowering individuals with eating disorders to talk, break down stigma and build understanding.

Please come along if you believe in that too.

To find out more, visit our website: www.studentminds.org.uk