– Caroline Adlam, Group facilitator at Student Minds Nottingham
I am one of five group facilitators for Student Minds Nottingham, who are running a structured support group for students. We’re focusing on building a support network, eating, sleeping and exercising well and finding coping strategies that work for you. But more than that, we want to create a safe, confidential space where people can talk about mental health freely, with other people who get it. A place for conversation, a place for silence, a place for healing, a place for battling and a place for life and all the topsy-turviness that comes with it.
I feel a huge responsibility. Not for people, but to people. A responsibility to be the best that we can be. If by being here we slightly improved the wellbeing of one student, then that would make the whole thing more than worth it.
But I have a vision to reach every student here that is hurting. I remember this when eyes gloss over as I say the word “depression”. People turn their heads away slightly or look down to avoid my gaze. I don’t mind. I am so privileged to be standing here doing this, giving out leaflets about our service. I know that hurting people are not always recognisable from the outside. Sometimes they are the ones who plaster on a smile, or the ones who never meet your eye because they know exactly what you’re talking about. That’s why I chase after people to give them a leaflet, or while I continue to talk after they’ve finished listening.
There was a plant that sat on the windowsill of a green building in town, maybe it still sits there to this day. A lady there told me that everyone else had given up on this plant, but it was her project – she had a deep conviction that it wasn’t too far gone to be helped. She sat it in the sunshine, watered it daily, gave it the time and space it needed to grow again.
I’m not a trained counsellor, nor do I have all the answers. But I believe that no one is beyond help, and for as long as I have air in my lungs I won’t give up shouting about mental health and how hope can be shone in the darkest of places.
– Anna-Ruth Gray, Nottingham Student Minds
Our First Event!
On Wednesday 1st October, Student Minds Nottingham held our first social event ever and it was great fun!
We hired out a little place called Sobar, a non-alcoholic bar in Nottingham city centre. There was great food and drink and a chilled, calm atmosphere. One student I overheard said they had not felt this relaxed in a long time! People got chatting and mingling together really easily because of the fun and safe space we had managed to create. There was a really wide variety of students that came and it was great to see all these students with so many varied interests, personalities and lifestyles getting to know each other.
Later on in the evening we had 4 live acoustic acts, they were all quite different and all brilliant. A couple of the acts said some words about mental illness and how it had affected them which was a lovely moving touch and a step towards reducing stigma. One of them even commented that they don’t normally feel comfortable explaining songs which are about mental illness at gigs but, they wanted to start because there really shouldn’t be so much stigma around it.
Everyone involved had a great time and it was quite different to social events that are held by other groups at the university, which was refreshing. If you wanted to come and you were nervous, next time don’t worry. Everyone was friendly and got socialising easily, there was also quite a few of the student minds team about to approach if you were feeling nervous.
Remember to like us on facebook or twitter for updates on events and socials:
Thank you to our events officer Jonathan for doing almost all the organising of this successful event and to the rest of the team for getting involved. Also, thanks to the music acts and everyone that came, we hope to see you all again soon!
– Anna-Ruth Gray, Nottingham Student Minds
Getting towards to end of freshers week means that many of you will now feel rather homesick. If this has been your first time leaving home and being independent then missing your friends, family and pets is perfectly normal and to be expected. Being somewhere new with people you don’t know very well can be difficult, especially when you know that you have 3 years ahead. It can seem overwhelming at first. But, you will soon settle in and if you’re having some difficulties and want help, here are a few little tips.
- Be true to yourself!Many articles I’ve read about freshers suggest that you force yourself to go clubbing as that’s where everyone meets and you have to make friends e.c.t. My opinion is (as cheesy as it sounds) is that you should be true to yourself! If you love clubbing and the fresher’s nights then of course do them and have a fantastic time but, maybe try to pace yourself. If you aren’t a clubber try some of the alternative events that really appeal to you or even stay in your hall and go to the common room and then you may meet others who didn’t fancy a night out either. If you force yourself to go clubbing if that’s not you then the chances are you won’t make friends with people who you really click with. Nottingham has so many alternative events on offer there is bound to be something for you!
- Share how you feel.I’m not necessarily talking about a big emotional talk with people that you’ve just met, but, if you mention your homesickness to a new friend the likelihood is they feel the same and at least then you will feel reassured that it’s not just you. Although everyone may look as if they are having the time of their lives with no worries, it’s unlikely that they feel as carefree as they look. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to new friend, then ring a loved one. Have a bit of a chat or cry to your mum or your best friend down the phone, even better if they’ve been to uni themselves, they will completely understand. Failing that, if you feel alone call the universities listening service Nightline on 01159514985 and someone will be there to listen and reassure. Don’t sit and worry, do call them they’d be happy to help!
- Do something you enjoy.Cheer yourself up with something you enjoy, it might not get rid of the homesickness completely but, it may help lighten your mood a little. Go for a run, do some yoga, dance, sing, watch something funny. You could even go exploring and maybe invite a new friend to join you. There is so much to do in Nottingham you could go to Woolaton park, visit the castle or just go and treat yourself to some new shoes (if your loan can stretch to it). The city centre always has a lot to offer.
- Look after yourself.You’ve probably heard this a million times but, it cannot be expressed enough that you need to look after yourself! If you start to feel really ill and exhausted that will only make feeling homesick more pronounced. You should really try to:
– Get some sleep! Even if you have to have a nap in the day. Lack of sleep can make you ill very quickly and you’ll wish you had when fresher’s flu creeps up on you.
– Eat well, try not to just live off the free pizza from freshers fair. Get some fruit and veg in you, maybe even take some vitamins as an extra illness prevention.
– Keep Active, although when you feel low you might just want to hide in your room, try and go for a little walk/run/cycle and get some fresh air and exercise.
If you’re still feeling homesick after using some of these tips, don’t worry it will soon pass. Freshers week is not a typical uni week and everything will soon settle down. It might be that your friends will be mainly course people or society people rather than the ones you’re living with. So, persevere and get out there and you’ll soon find people that make uni feel like home. Then you’ll be having the most amazing time! If you’re worried or feeling alone contact student minds or come along to one of our events and you’ll always have someone friendly to help you and point you in the right direction. 🙂
– Jonathan Davies, Nottingham Student Minds
It feels like you only just got here but halfway through week one so much has happened you could have been a Nottingham student forever. As fresher’s week begins to taper off lectures loom ever closer and all of a sudden your presence in such a large university begins to feel a little overwhelming. Or exciting. Maybe you’re tired. You might be finding the whole experience a little intimidating, or perhaps you thrive off it. It’s possible you’re feeling alone, or crowded, or comfortably familiar with the new friends you’ve chosen to spend your week with.
Or maybe you’re feeling none of the above.
There’s no magic formula for being at university. Every year hundreds of preparatory articles for incoming students trend online but the absence of an important lesson is palpable: nobody’s student experience is the same and you shouldn’t feel any pressure to change yours in accordance to the “stereotypical student lifestyle” because it’s a myth. Over the last few days hundreds of new students have chatted to the Student Minds team in the Great Hall at GP registration and it couldn’t be clearer that everyone’s individual hopes, fears, experiences, and expectations are very different. Whilst some are buzzing from the Nottingham nightlife others live for exploring one of the greenest campuses in Europe.
If there’s one thing all students have in common it’s that they want to enjoy university. And everyone can! Nottingham’s huge Student’s Unions offers everything from deeply involved people-orientated activities that give you the chance to perform, debate, and compete, right down to niche groups with shared hobbies, or even just a shared desire to have a quiet evening watching an indie movie, baking cakes, or playing board games.
Sometimes it can feel threatening to see people settling into their groove and acclimatising to student life faster than you are. If people around you seem to have grown thriving groups of friends apparently out of thin air and you’re still finding your feet in that tricky balance between studying, socialising, and simply existing in a new and potentially frightening environment, remember that there’s no right way to be a student and there’s no pace too slow for making your mark and finding your corner. “Everyone does things in their own way” may sound like a cliché but it’s an immutable fact of student life. Nottingham is a culturally diverse hub of undergraduates and postgraduates of all ages from all over the globe, and it’s this reality that encapsulates what it means to be a student – it means whatever you choose it to mean.
– Freya Cumming-Webb, Campaign Group Leader at Nottingham Student Minds
Today on our facebook and twitter we’ve been asking what our followers wished they’d known in fresher’s week (or Week One as we call it at Nottingham). I think the thing I wish I’d known was quite simply ‘it will be ok’, it might not feel like it at times but there are things to do, people to meet and lots of support to fall back on if need be. Instead I think I spent a large part of my first week at university worrying about plagiarism rules! I was very lucky and found good friends, who I’ve since lived with, only a few doors away in my hall.
That won’t be the same for everyone but I think it does prove that most people can get on with most people. Think back to your friends at school, your best friends may well have been in your randomly assigned form groups and through time spent together, doing the same things friendship was formed. Now, I’m not suggesting everyone finds their best friends in hall, or that forcing yourself to do something you know you don’t enjoy with people will create friendship, but the duration of your course, not just the first week will be a series of experiments and pushing yourself. With hundreds of societies from sky diving to knitting, in a university of thousands of people you will find things you enjoy and your future best friends…quite simply it will be ok.
…but I haven’t found my niche yet, it doesn’t feel ok?!
Why not come along to Student Minds @ Sobar on Monday 29th September? There will be music, food, and if you feel lost just come and chat to someone in a Student Minds t-shirt!
Join our facebook and twitter pages to keep up to date with events and workshops we’re holding or come along to our Positive Minds course which offers suggestions about how to meet new people as well as a chance to chat openly about any struggles of starting university!
– Freya Cumming-Webb, Campaign Group Leader at Nottingham Student Minds
The first new students arrive today, international students are here for their orientation and a chance to recover from jet lag before Week One really gets going on Sunday! At Student Minds UoN we’re putting the finishing touches to posters, banners and our free event for Week Two at our local Sobar in the city centre. We’ve also ordered 30 t-shirts for our volunteers and 1000 pencils to give out at GP registration!
The whole team is getting to grips with Twitter and we’re really hoping to get our name out there this term! We’ve got a new team, our new Positive Minds course, new events and new campaigns as well as old and new staff and volunteers helping us along the way!
Let’s hope it all comes together!