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King's Lynn college students raise awareness of mental health issues

Students from the College of West Anglia have been raising awareness of mental health issues as part of Mental Health Awareness Week.

Based on the theme of 'kindness' Students tackled some of the misconceptions and challenged some of the stigmas associated with mental health as part of a nationwide initiative run by the Mental Health Foundation.

Mental health support co-ordinator Maria Chaplin said: “It is especially important at this time that we are kind to ourselves and to others and recognise the impact this can have on our wellbeing.”

Louise Stableford's work. (35521955)
Louise Stableford's work. (35521955)

Student governor, Mollie Pemberton, said: “Today, mental health is becoming more of a touched upon subject and more and more people are becoming aware of the severity it can have on the younger and older generations of today.

"Mental health can be compared to an iceberg. There’s only so much you can see on the surface and what you can’t see is under the water.”

Students were set a new challenge every day of the week, all centred around this year’s theme of kindness.

Challenges have included undertaking random acts of kindness, sharing stories of kindness, creating artwork, creative writing, cookery and learning self-care and wellbeing skills.

Art and Design student, Tabby Humphrey, has created artwork around subjects that are important and meaningful to her.

Humphrey said: “I have finished a portrait of my collie cross called Odie who passed away a few years ago.

"I was inspired to draw him after all these years due to sitting in my flat alone, remembering a time when he was always by my side.

"I wanted to create a piece of him that I could take with me to university, so that he would always be with me. I used copics and prismcolor pencils to try and create a realistic look.”

Xena Tigue (35521968)
Xena Tigue (35521968)

Level 2 childcare student, Xena Tigue used embroidery during lockdown to stay positive, while access to medicine student, Louise Stableford has been busy creating complex origami sculptures.

Tigue said: “During Lockdown down, I been mostly doing embroidery to keep me busy, so I don't feel low in these times.

"We need to remember that everyone is fighting their own battles even if we can’t see them.”

Chrissie Turner. (35521953)
Chrissie Turner. (35521953)

Health and social care student, Chrissie Turner is currently working at Tesco while studying full-time.

She has previously completed work experience with the mental health charity, MIND, and hopes to use her own experience to help others with mental health problems.

Turner said: “My work experience placement at MIND had a huge impact on me and has guided my future career path.

"Working with the adults with mental health problems has helped me to identify how to develop my professional approach as well as adapt my communication skills.

"It has also taught me about mental health problems and how to recognise it in other people and myself.

"Having experienced struggles with anxiety, which later caused depression, I have learnt how important it is to have supportive colleagues, friends and family around you.

"I have learned that exercise is a key factor in improving my mental health and how to turn negatives into positives.

"It is essential that everyone is aware of mental health and the different types that affect a lot of people in different ways. It is important that the individuals who are experiencing it do not push their family and friends away as these people are your foundations and will help you through it.

"Remember to ask the strongest person in your life, are you OK too?”

CWA have recently launched an optional virtual mentor scheme, aimed at providing each student with a student mentor, enabling them to support one another with online learning during lockdown.

Andrew Gedge, assistant principal of quality and student outcomes and the college’s equality, diversity and inclusion champion, said: “At the college, we hold the mental health and wellbeing of our staff and students as one of our top priorities.

"We have introduced a new ‘Mental Health and Well-being Charter’ as a college reflecting our commitment to this critical issue."

He added: "We are extremely conscious of the current environment and the possible effects on the welfare and mental health on individuals.

"We have enacted numerous measures to counter these effects, including successfully moving the student advisor team to support students through remote mechanisms and our counselling team are providing wellbeing support daily.”

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