June 8, 2020, by UoN School of English
Mental Health Awareness in the English Department
Becky Cameron is known for sending out emails. In fact, any English student’s emails are most definitely 60% Becky Cameron, which I say with the utmost fondness – especially after the day she organised on the 12th of March 2020.
I always find myself a little sceptical of Mental Health Awareness week. It sometimes feels like an empty attempt to garner favour, with no real intent or care for the students. Not the most positive outlook, I’m aware, but I feel as if the English department really made an effort to make me feel accepted during this week.
Instead of glossing over the week, Becky Cameron arranged a day of activities in the English Common Room. I went there rather early with only the intent of grabbing a goody bag and escaping quickly (because, really, what better reason to do things than free items?). I managed to nab a Grow Your Own Sunflower in honour of my girlfriend, since it’s her favourite flower, a face mask, and hand lotion. I think a lot of Mental Health Awareness ignores the basic necessity of self-care, which has helped me a lot as I dealt with my mental health.
The simple act of caring for yourself is a form of emotional intimacy. It is having the power to say that you matter. Therefore, I readily enjoyed my little gifts – there were more things there. Pencils, pens, notebooks, Lynx bodywash, stress balls, and nail files. Clearly, a great deal of care had been taken into making sure there was a little something for everyone. Each held the simple message: you’re worth caring for.
Ready to rush off as soon as I’d filled up a goody bag, I was stopped just before I could leave. Soon enough, I was directed towards the coffee machine by a warm, welcoming voice. There were biscuits and marshmallows available, which I indulged in one or two or six. Feeling more relaxed than before, which I’m sure is the opposite of what coffee is supposed to do, I eased myself in to painting a friend’s nails.
I was also directed towards an Exam Toolkit Booklet, which showcased many strategies for dealing with exam and essay stress. Since I tend to work myself up a lot regarding grades, I had a thorough look at the book, and I can report that it had some rather interesting strategies that I think you should go to the English Common Room to observe.
There were hand massages and a tree filled with people’s ‘Random Acts of Kindness’, but I sadly had to leave before I could complete any other activities. All in all, however, I felt very seen and heard during this period.
Danielle Smith is a second year English student at the University of Nottingham.