Where's your head at?
Toni Newland is a full-time, second year student, studying Criminology and Youth Studies. Toni is also President of the newly formed Where’s Your Head At? Society at University of Suffolk. Toni wanted to collaborate with Student Life, to help increase awareness of wellbeing & mental health issues.
Where’s Your Head At? (WYHA?) is a student-led society, focusing on mental health and wellbeing promotion at University of Suffolk. I came up with the idea back in August last year while supporting my own mental health campaign, which aimed to improve support & facilities for mental health at the University.
I was inspired to engage in this after losing a close friend through poor mental health, who attended a larger university elsewhere. This episode in my life triggered a realisation that, as such a small university, we should still be able to provide more comprehensive 1-to-1 support for students experiencing mental health issues. This is effectively how our society was formed!
We aim to provide events and socials not only to raise awareness, but to help bring passionate and like-minded people together to reach our ultimate goal; reducing the stress of having mental health issues while studying and the stigma surrounding it.
Working alongside student services, the idea of running a Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) course was formed and then implemented via a University staff member being trained to deliver the course. MHFA is similar to a normal first aid course. However, instead of aiding physical symptoms of injury, it focuses on mental health. The course educates individuals in how to identify, understand and then help a person who may be developing a mental health issue. MHFA teaches you how to recognise common but crucial signs and symptoms of early onset issues and how to provide effective help on a first aid basis. This includes guiding someone towards the right support. From my point of view MHFA is essential in today’s society and just as important as any normal first aid! As a Students’ Union based society, we are pushing for staff at the University (and our Students’ Union) to be trained in MHFA, in order to support current and future students.
Working together to help make Suffolk an emotionally healthy County!
It really is encouraging to hear of organisations that are ‘getting it right’ in terms of looking after their most valuable asset, their people.
Providing 1-2-1 support and organisation-wide training is of great importance in both helping to reduce stigma and promote a culture where people feel more able to speak openly about problems.
Mental Health First Aid is a valued course that helps provide skills and knowledge. Having attended the course a few years ago, I certainly felt it useful in gaining a wider understanding of the different types of problems.
Education and raising awareness is a priority for Suffolk Mind. We all have mental health, just as we have physical health, and we need to look after both. Our physical needs are easier to identify, our body tells us when we feel hungry, thirsty and tired. It is harder to tell when our emotional needs are not being met.
Throughout Suffolk we work with people of all ages and businesses and organisations across all sectors, delivering training and providing information to help people have a better understanding of their emotional needs. The more we learn about these, the easier it is to tell when they need to be met and what to do about it.
Our training centres around a “needs met” model which outlines both the emotional needs that we all have, and the innate resources we’re all born with that help us get those needs met in healthy ways. Meeting our needs helps us to stay mentally well. The training also looks at those barriers which may prevent us from getting our needs met; the environment we live or work in, or the damage or misuse of our own internal resources.
As individuals, we can all commit to taking care of our own mental wellbeing, and we would encourage people to join our Friends of Suffolk Mind network which can offer support to help do this. One of the benefits of joining our growing network is an invitation to join one of our ‘needs met’ training sessions delivered by our experienced mental health team.
The network is free to join with much to gain, so consider taking that first step towards making a difference in your life, and the lives of those you care about. For more information visit our website - Friends of Suffolk Mind