March 2, 2020, by Issy

Uni Mental Health Day 2020

Mental health is important. We all experiences ups and downs in our wellbeing, but to someone going through an especially tough time, it can feel like they are completely alone in the way they feel. Days like University Mental Health Day, this Thursday 5thMarch, show that this is a university-wide issue on a national scale, and that people are there for you, and to listen to you. The theme for this year is ‘random acts of kindness’, highlighting that even the little things can make someone’s day just that little bit better – you never know what is going on in someone’s life, such that having the door held open for them would make their day.

The university is holding a series of events on March 5th(detailed below) to support the day, and the cause behind it – to make university a more supportive and happy environment for every last person, be it student or staff.

Why do I care enough about this day to dedicate an entire post to it? Well, for me, mental health is everything: it literally has dictated my life so far at university. I can see first-hand how important it is to promote the day and everything about it, and ensure it doesn’t get overlooked or swept under the table. I know how it feels to feel completely alone and isolated by your own mind, and would hate for anyone else to feel that way. We are stronger together, as a community, and mental health should be talked about every day – just because it is not University Mental Health Day the other 364 days of the year does not mean that it is any less important than other days.

Books and Brains

Interestingly, University Mental Health Day falls on the same day as World Book Day this year – another really important event: it brings together a likeminded community to share their love of reading and all things literature! I would also argue that they are linked in that taking some time to read a book and escape from the real world provide a massive sense of wellbeing itself! The libraries service are holding a book swap to mark both days together between 5-12thMarch (details here). Writing can also can be a way for some authors to explore how mental health has affected their lives, and in turn provide a welcome realisation that the reader is not alone in the way they feel. On this note, some books I would recommend exploring the topic of mental health are:

  • Remember This When You’re Sad, Maggy Van Eijk
    • A frank memoir by someone who has been through everything life could throw at her, survived to tell the tale and then used this book to recount the way she coped with these periods in her life: passing on the tips to benefit her readers.
  • It’s All Absolutely Fine, Ruby Elliot
    • Ruby Elliot tends to go by the name rubyetc online, where she posts drawings and sketches of her everyday life. This book is full of them, it is often very relatable with struggles we all face day to day, and has a focus on mental health. Because it is mainly drawings, it is great when your brain can’t handle reading yet more words after a day of lectures!
  • Reasons to Stay Alive, Matt Haig
    • A classic. Haig uses his own experiences to recount his journey to recovery from depression and anxiety, intertwined with heartfelt messages to the reader, to inspire them to face their own struggles knowing that they are not alone. One of his pieces within this book, ‘A note from the beach’ shot to fame when it was included in the edition of Vogue that Meghan Markle edited, showing that everyone can struggle, no matter who you are.
  • A Million Little Pieces, James Frey
    • A hard-hitting novel exploring the treatment of alcohol and drug abuse, which is semi-fictional, based on the author’s own experiences. It is written in a ‘stream of consciousness’ writing style, notably with no punctuation to indicate speech, deliberately intended to confuse the reader, imitating Frey’s experiences in the clinic, but draws the reader in to understand just what was going on.

So, on March 5th, and every other day, make an extra effort to think about checking up on your friends or colleagues, think about holding the door open for that stranger, offering the lady your seat on the bus, making dinner for your friend, phoning that person you haven’t seen in ages. It really will, and does, make a difference.


A list of university events being held on March 5th to mark UMHD:

  • Felt Making Workshop, 10-11/ 11.30-12.30/ 2-3 – University Park
    • Completely free, and you can perform your own random act of kindness by making someone who means a lot to you a small gift to show your appreciation for them.
    • Places limited – book on through, for both staff and students.
  • Changes and Challenges (building resilience), 2-3 – University Park
  • Maps and Minds, drop in between 11-2 – LG1, Sir Clive Granger, UP
    • An opportunity to explore maps and the meaning behind them, in terms of representing places and connecting with happy memories.
    • Mark on a map to show where you have experienced/ performed a random act of kindness.
  • Student Services Centres on all campuses
    • Activities on offer exploring the theme of ‘random acts of kindness’, such as a ‘wall of kindness’ and ‘complement coasters’.
    • The teams will also be around to promote discussion of mental health and also support any student in need of it.
  • The Guild Giveaway – Sutton Bonington
    • Tokens are hidden around campus with a message relating to Uni Mental Health Day – take any you find to the Guild office for a wellness gift.
  • Positivity Pebbles – The Guild, Sutton Bonington
    • Decorate a stone, and place it somewhere on campus so someone can see it and have their day brightened!
  • Self-Soothing Kits – Cripps Health Centre (Mental Health Advisory Service)
    • Select the things you want in your kit (from playdough to playlist suggestions!), then head for a cup of tea and write a message of encouragement for another student, in return for one for you!
  • Stall Event, 11-2, – C Floor, Portland Building
    • An opportunity to speak to various university services, student run groups and external groups which are all there to support your mental health. Free hot drinks, biscuits and a breakout space.

For more details, and other events happening in the weeks to come, visit the University Mental Health Day page on the website.   

Posted in Issy