An alarming 27% of students report a mental health problem whilst at university. As LJMU marks Wellbeing Week, I share how I'll be highlighting this growing problem with a piece of positive self-care, and how you can help me raise money and awareness.
To help shine a light on the mental health issues currently being faced by students, I’m planning on running 27 miles in 27 days to represent the 27% of students who find themselves struggling at the moment. It's a figure that I find shocking, as it’s actually five times higher today than it was ten years ago.
As a first year pre-reg Adult Nursing student, with experience of working in mental health wards, I’ve felt strongly for a long time about the lack of guidance for students and how we're expected to preserve our mental welfare during this pandemic.
Worried about others
I often find myself worrying about the people around me. When it comes to the rising mental health issues experienced by students during the COVID crisis, I largely feel that it’s down to the fact people don’t know where to turn during the pandemic. Even with general health problems, I’ve found it really hard to see a doctor and to speak to someone face to face – so when it comes to getting treatment regarding my mental health, it’s become even more difficult.
The lack of human interaction is leaving many individuals really struggling. I’m quite lucky as I get to go out on clinical placements and have a bit of company, but others only get to speak to people through a computer screen. Emotions and mannerisms can’t be detected through a screen or phone and if someone isn't willing to talk and hasn't any support or people around them, they may find it difficult to speak up and suffer in silence.
Myself and many of my peers have moved away from home and have been stuck in our halls, not allowed to mix or meet new peers. I know everyone is trying to adapt in the safest ways possible, but there's no getting around the fact that it just isn't the same, and young people all over the country are living through an extremely difficult time.
My first run will be on March 1 and I’m really excited for it. Not only because it will get me out of my room, but because I’ll have the chance to explore Liverpool properly. The plan is to go to different parks and places to run in Liverpool, as I'm not initially from the area, I think it’ll be a good way to get acquainted with the city.
The aim is to do 27 runs in 27 days and raise money through GivePenny. I have to admit that I’m not much of a runner, but I do regularly attend the gym and started to run in the first lockdown as a way to keep myself busy. I found it harder to run on roads than in the gym on a treadmill, so this will definitely be a challenge! Especially as I’m on clinical placement, which is three 13 hour shifts each week.
I really hope that by channelling some positivity and trying to do something good for others, that the challenge will really help me to overcome my own doubts and frustrations. There have been times living away from home when I've desperately wanted to see my mum, but obviously can't. It’s definitely not how my friends and I imagined our university experience. To take away the positives though, I’m grateful to be living with nicest flat mates, and I’ve definitely met people who I know will be my friends for life already.
Hopes for 2021?
Right now, it just seems very important to be kind. Everyone is spending a lot of time on their phones, online and on social media, and I feel this can have a massive negative impact sometimes. We really need to use our devices in a kind and responsible way.
I also feel we all need to regularly check up on our friends, flat mates, peers – whoever we live with, and spend a little bit of time with them. Even if it’s just having a cuppa together. Sometimes the smallest thing can cheer someone up, and just one conversation may add a little bit of normality into people’s lives. It might be all they need, you never know...
LJMU and JMSU offer year-round services to support students with their mental health. The health, welfare and wellbeing of our student community is our number one priority. Anyone can make an appointment to speak to a professional about their mental health by going to our Student Advice and Wellbeing page.
You can also help raise money for student mental health via Stacey’s page.
Good luck, Stacey!