As you may remember from my very first post, I’m currently the Events Coordinator for Surrey’s African-Caribbean Society (ACS). Of course we love our parties, BBQs, movie nights and all the rest, but our aims are also to educate and enlighten. Particularly in families that are quite old-fashioned, the discussion of mental health can be a major taboo, if it is even discussed at all.
Our treasurer, Swagiya, planned a really special event to open up this dialogue in the black community. We had student speakers who are current students at Surrey, as well as two mental health organisations that focus on African-Caribbean persons- SAIE and HFNE.
There were a few tears shed, some incredibly inspiring stories and awesome advice shared. University can be quite stressful, and it’s important for us to understand that nobody is alone in the struggle, and that there’s lots of professional services available for times when things become overbearing.
In addition to the on-campus clinic at Surrey, we have a Centre for Wellbeing that offers counselling and advice about eating disorders, mental health conditions (anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder…), addictions, grief, abuse and anything that could affect your wellbeing while at uni.
Our Students Union also runs a Nightline service after hours, where you can call anonymously and speak to trained volunteers about anything you’re struggling to cope with.
If you’re religious, the University chaplaincy has members of staff from each denomination (and non-faith group such as Humanists) to offer advice from a different perspective.
As someone who doesn’t suffer with chronic mental health challenges myself, this event still resonated the importance of looking out for those around you, especially in a minority groups where these things tend to be swept under the guise of ‘toughness’. These conversations are so important in recognising what we can do for each other as members of a community.
Together, there’s nothing we can’t overcome!
It’s okay not to be okay!
Knowledge is power!
Keep going, the world needs you!