The Mancunion

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Let’s talk about mental health

As World Mental Health Day approaches us on the 10th of October, Megan Ritchie discusses the simple ways to manage your mental health

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One in four adults are likely to develop a mental health issue this year. This shocking statistic highlights the growing problem the population faces at recognising when things are getting that little bit too tough and opening up about it.

World Mental Health Day — organised by the World Federation for Mental Health — aims to educate, spread awareness and combat the stigma surrounding mental health issues. Everyone runs the risk of developing a mental health issue at any time during their lives so it’s important to recognise that this event is for everyone and not just those that are suffering from a mental health issue.

This year’s theme – set by the World Federation for Mental Health – is mental health in the workplace. A staggering 260 million people suffer from anxiety whilst 300 million battle depression and both of these mental health issues can be caused by work and can affect our ability to work effectively.

For many young adults here in Manchester, the university is both their workplace and their home whilst studying in the city. So, here are some top tips for taking care of your mental health whilst living as a student and studying here in Manchester:

Ensure you have a balanced diet. Fast food is an easy go-to for students but sugary foods can make your blood sugars rise and fall rapidly and this has an impact on your mood. As well as a cutback on the sugary stuff, the right amount of protein is essential; amino acids produce chemicals in the brain responsible for regulating thoughts and feelings. Eating cleaner will not only help your mental health but it’ll help you feel good physically too. Try to exercise a few times a week. The recommended amount of exercise is two and a half hours per week and whilst a big group of us are hardly Manchester’s next great athlete, it’s important we fit some exercise into our busy student schedules somewhere. Just a brisk walk in the fresh air can help us feel good and if you bring along some friends too it’s a great time to catch up! Studies have shown a brisk walk can reduce stress and anxiety by releasing endorphins. Did you know a brisk walk has the same effect as anti-depressants? Stay organised at university. Organising that pile of notes, books and folders will make you feel so much better! Likewise, keep to a routine in the week so you don’t allow yourself to fall behind with work. Attend all lectures and seminars where possible and set yourself a time each week that is dedicated to doing your readings. Keeping notes and files organised and sticking to time targets and deadlines will ensure poor organisation does not become a cause for stress. Don’t be afraid to ask for help! If there’s anything academically you’re struggling to get to grips with, don’t be afraid or embarrassed to ask. Staff will have heard it all before and they’ll have been through a similar academic experience as you at university so no question is too big or too small. And as for personal or mental health issues, speaking to a friend or a family member who can offer some advice or reassurance will help. Remember, family and friends care about you and are there as a source of support. There are also useful links provided below if you would prefer to talk to someone else or find help online.

Here at the University of Manchester, the Student Union Wellbeing Officer alongside the Open Mind Network have put together some events across campus on the 10th October 2017 in order to get people talking about mental health. You can find them here:

9am-11am: Morning coffee in the Student Union Council Chambers

11am-4pm: Mental Health Fair at University Place

5pm-7pm: “Liberate My Mind” panel talk that includes the likes of staff within the University of Manchester and consultant psychiatrist Dr Louise Theodosiou in University Place 6.207.

Whether you want to express an issue of your own and share your own experiences, air an opinion about the support available for students or simply show some support for the awareness of mental health issues then please do take part!

Some useful links:

If you would like some advice and information on wellbeing visit: http://www.studentsupport.manchester.ac.uk/taking-care/wellbeing/

Visit the Mind.org website for information and advice at: https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/

Visit the Student Minds website for information and advice at: http://www.studentminds.org.uk/find-support.html

Use the counselling service on campus by going to:

https://www.counsellingservice.manchester.ac.uk/get-help/appointments/

Contact the Student Union Advice Service on 0161 275 2952