On the 7th of November, newly established society Manchester Open Mind Network played host to a panel of anxiety experts, aiming to discuss the causes and solutions of the condition for student sufferers.
Anxiety and related conditions such as PTSD have become a huge problem amongst young people, with an estimated 20 per cent of students expected to experience some form of mental health illness during their times at university. Unfortunately, the panel also discussed how 35 per cent of those living with a condition will not seek help. Thus, the event aimed to combat this issue by challenging the stigma surrounding mental health.
The event had an excellent turn out, with the room easily becoming filled within the first ten minutes. Each speaker talked through their own experiences with anxiety and depression, giving moving accounts of how this affected their lives and, most importantly, how they learnt to combat the condition. Three main coping mechanisms were explained: Mindfulness; Counselling and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).
Esteemed hypnotherapist Dianne explained how the mind works in a triangular manner, with thoughts, emotions and actions being directly interconnected and interdependent on each other. She went into detail about how anxiety occurs when the brain becomes trapped in a cycle of thoughts and feelings, with an inability to complete actions. Dianne advised that the best way to tackle this problem was to exercise ‘mindfulness’ by focussing on your safety and security in the present moment, rather than worrying about potential issues in the future.
After a few more speakers shared their experiences and combative strategies the event moved to a Q&A: here the panel discussed reasons as to why anxiety had become such a prominent issue amongst young people.
Some stated that this may be due to a feeling of disempowerment amongst youths, particularly in light of rising tuition fees and youth unemployment. Others also referenced how the internet had hugely contributed to an increase in anxiety amongst young people, as exposure to such vast amounts of information and broad range of opinions could be both confusing and intimidating.
In particular, the panel related the prominence of body dysmorphia, especially in young women, as attributable to the internet with images of celebrities’ ‘perfect bodies’ creating great pressure amongst young women to be thin.
Finally, the event closed with a speech from society members stating how a student could seek help if they were struggling with a mental health issue.
As 1 in 5 people suffer from anxiety in the UK, with women from 15-50, being the most likely to develop the condition, the need for student support has never be so great.
If you are concerned that you or a friend may be suffering from a mental health illness then you can contact Manchester Open Mind Network by liking their Facebook page and direct messaging them.
Equally, Student Advice Services (located on the bottom floor of the Students’ Union, next to Student Voice) run a drop in session where you can walk in and ask for free advice in a non-judgemental environment.
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