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Mental health awareness week

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This is Mental Health Awareness Week, and an opportunity to look at the work colleges and universities throughout Scotland are doing to support students’ mental health and wellbeing.

Between now and the end of  the week we’re focussing on the four amazing projects that have been shortlisted for this year’s Herald HE awards.

Skills for Life and Learning, University of Edinburgh

Students at the University of Edinburgh are being supported to find ways of dealing with issues around mental health and wellbeing through an imaginative programme of Skills for Life and Learning workshops. The programme is run by the University’s Student Counselling Service.

The workshops are delivered online for groups of up to 30 students. As well as break-out discussions there are also exercises for reflection and practice. The workshop topics are carefully chosen and include how to sleep better; ways to improve focus and avoid distraction; and how to overcome social anxiety in social and academic settings.

Students who feel underserving of their place at university can find coping strategies through a workshop on imposter syndrome, and those who feel that nothing they can do is good enough can benefit from a session that explores perfectionism and its consequences. There are also workshops on dealing with stress and managing mood.

The Skills for Life and Learning workshops sit alongside many other measures for student mental health laid out in the University’s Student Mental Health Agreement which is part of the NUS Think Positive Student Mental Health Project.

Supporting students with the cost-of-living, Fife College

To support its students’ health and wellbeing in the ongoing cost of living crisis, Fife College offers a carefully designed range of practical support, which even extends to free haircuts courtesy of the College’s talented beauty students!

Other help includes free breakfast and lunch on campus every day during term. Acknowledging the link between good physical health and good mental health, the College also provides every student with the opportunity to enjoy free sessions at its recently reopened Kirkcaldy campus gym. Mobility, as well as fitness, is provided for by a bike scheme set up by the Fife College Student’s Association through which students can rent a bike for only £3 per week.

The College also provides free sanitary products as part of its commitment to ensuring every student has access to essential resources without financial constraints. During the cold months students can find somewhere warm to study in the College’s libraries which are designated warm spaces.

The College’s Guidance and Student Funding teams support students by offering expert advice on their eligibility for hardship funds, grocery shop vouchers and even support from foodbanks. There is also a team of specialists to provide guidance in financial areas such as childcare, disability and help to pay rents and mortgages.

Student Pantry, City of Glasgow College Students’ Association

For students as well as for many other people at the moment, the cost of living crisis is also a mental health crisis.

Amongst the many practical and impactful support measures offered by Scotland’s colleges and universities is the Student Pantry at the City of Glasgow College. The project was launched in response to demand expressed at the students’ association AGM, and is being funded through the Glasgow Wellbeing Fund.

Available at the college’s City and Riverside campuses, the Pantry makes snack items and hot drinks available to any student who needs them – and everything is free of charge.

The Student Pantry is run by an amazing group of student volunteers who dedicate some of their own valuable time each week to making sure the Pantry can operate.

Keep on Track, Edinburgh Napier University

Being a student can be one of the best experiences of your life – but it can also have its challenges.

The transition to a new learning environment, the building of new social groups, the need to manage life in a different way can all be difficult for new students. At other times, the pressure of people’s expectations or the stresses of balancing time and workload can build up into feeling unsettled and unhappy, sometimes to the extent of wanting to leave university or college.

At Edinburgh Napier University, Keep on Track advisors help students understand that these types of feelings are normal and that there are ways of coping with them. The advisors are available to  listen, offer understanding, and help students make the right decision for them.

Keep on Track is part of a suite of support services offered by the university’s Student Counselling & Mental Wellbeing team.

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