Tag Archives: Mental Health Awareness Week

MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS WEEK – FIVE WAYS TO WELLBEING AND SUPPORT ON CAMPUS

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week in Aotearoa New Zealand, which is all about focusing on our wellbeing and making sure we’re looking after ourselves.

The Five Ways to Wellbeing are five simple yet proven actions you can use every day to help you find balance, build resilience and boost your wellbeing.

CONNECT / ME WHAKAWHANAUNGA
Talk and listen, be there, feel connected

KEEP LEARNING / ME AKO TONU
Embrace new experiences, see opportunities, surprise yourself

TAKE NOTICE / ME ARO TONU
Remember the simple things that give you joy

BE ACTIVE / ME KORI TONU
Do what you can, enjoy what you do, move your mood

GIVE / TUKUA
Your time, your words, your presence

Support on campus
If you or someone you know would like to talk to someone about life at UC, getting help with managing your work, a personal matter or you just need someone to talk to, there is a range of free support available on campus.

Support for students:

Support for staff and students:

Support for staff:

Wider support

0800 LIFELINE (0800 543 354) or text HELP (4357) for free, 24/7, confidential support – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

How are ya, really?

Quickly proving to be one of the most read blogs in the Insider’s Guide blog space for students this year, UCSA Equity and Wellbeing Representative Sam Brosnahan’s personal reflections on mental health clearly struck a chord . We share it here with staff as part of Mental Health Awareness Week.

– How are ya?
– Yeah good, yourself?
– Yeah good thanks [proceed with conversation].

I’m a bit like you. After Sam Brosnahanstopping to think for a sec how often I rattle off this same conversation with people I bump into everyday, the answer was yep, often.

The question is: how are you really doing? It was the spring of 2015 and the world wasn’t such a bright place for me – I had just come out of a physical injury, a close cousin had just passed away suddenly – and before long all I could feel was my world imploding inside.

As dark clouds seemed to swirl around me for weeks on end, all I maintained was this shell of outward composure, but all I could feel inside was that everything I had worked for, believed in, hoped and dreamed for were all slipping away.

I knew something was up, that something didn’t feel right. Was this just a situation not worth dragging others into? It got to the point where I had to call on an older couple, that were family friends that I love and trusted, for help. Understanding there was hope and it was okay to feel like that was the best advice they ever gave me.

Sometimes when it comes to a concept like mental health, mental disorder or mental wellbeing, we can tend to put it in an ‘others’ category, which doesn’t really apply to me. The reality is we all have a mind, a state of mental being and a level of how ‘well’ this state of mentality is.

It’s the old classic – we place huge importance on our physical health or physique and we’ll like, post and spend time training, and at the same time if we get injured we’d most likely see a specialist, take time out and let mates know about it.

I won’t slam you with the stats, we all know mental health related issues are on the rise in Aotearoa New Zealand – many of us know someone that’s been affected by anxiety, depression or suicide, let alone us directly.

It’s Mental Health Awareness Week this week and you’ll see posters around uni sharing a little love around the place. UCSA are putting on a programme of events to help celebrate the week and help encourage you to look out for you and your friends and whānau.

Share your struggle with mates, be a good listener, take a break, eat well, get outdoors, climb a tree, row a boat or ring your gran. Look after yourself – you matter more than you could ever know.

Kia kaha.

Sam Brosnahan
UCSA Equity & Wellbeing Rep

Need support now?

  • If you are concerned about yourself or someone, such as a colleague or student, ask about how they are doing and listen – you don’t need to be an expert.
  • If you are still concerned, suggest they contact a professional service such as their family doctor. The Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand Mauri tū, Mauri ora has excellent advice at mentalhealth.org.nz. Look for the ‘in crisis’ button.
  • Students can attend the UC Health Centre or Student Care. If you refer a student do check-in with them soon afterwards to see how they got on. These sorts of actions show you care, help remove the stigma around mental health and encourage others to get the help they need.

Student Distress Guide and mental health first aid

Next week is Mental Health Awareness Week, 9 to 10 October which aims to help increase awareness of wellbeing and remove the stigma around mental health. We ask Director of Student Success Liz Keneti about the new Student Distress Guide, currently in production, and  include an extract below about mental health first aid. 

See more information below if you, a colleague, friend, family member or student need support now.

Q. Talofa Liz. What is the new Students in Distress Guide and who is it for?

A. The Distress Guide aims to prepare staff for students in a distressed psychological or emotional state. By knowing what to look for and how to respond, staff can have a tremendous effect on the wellbeing and success of students.

Q. Who has helped develop the guide?

A. The UC Health Centre and Student Care team were involved early on to help inform the development of the Guide, but feedback on drafts has been sought widely, from College Advisors and Library staff to PDT, MDT and the UC Chaplaincy.

Q.What would you suggest to people who say ‘I’m not an expert. How can I possibly do the right thing when helping a student in distress’?

A. Just like medical first aid, mental health first aid is something that all staff can do to help students in need.  The essential message of the Guide really comes down to noticing students in distress, reaching out to them to express warmth, sympathy and reassurance, and knowing where to refer them to get specialist help.

At the same time, it is crucial for staff to be aware of their own limits with the kind of help they can offer. For any staff who don’t feel comfortable, or for any who simply lack the time, Student Care, Māori Student Development Team or Pacific Development Team advisors can be contacted to reach out. The Guide also contains important information on privacy and what student information can and can’t be shared with other staff.

Q.How will I be able to get a copy of the guide when it is printed and distributed?

A.Keep an eye out in Intercom for more details, but copies will be sent out widely to staff in November.

Extract from Student Distress Guide:

Mental health first aid

 Mental health first aid (MHFA) involves responding with compassion to people experiencing distress or trauma in order to address their practical needs and concerns and reduce their suffering. It is not professional counselling and does not involve detailed discussion of the circumstances that are causing distress.

Applying mental health first aid

  1. Listen to what is being said. Stay calm and focused. Use active listening techniques, such as reflecting what the student says back to them, to help them feel heard.
  2. Express warmth, sympathy, concern, and reassurance. For example, you might tell the student that it is OK for them to feel embarrassed or not really know what their needs are at this time.
  3. Communicate softly, clearly, and slowly. Try and determine if the person is absorbing what is being said. If it would help, write down the steps you recommend for the student.
  4. Help calm them. If the student is overwhelmed, agitated, or distraught, help calm them by remaining calm, quiet, and present. Try and direct their focus towards manageable feelings, thoughts, and goals. You might suggest calming techniques such as slowing their breathing.
  5. Naming and prioritising concerns. Consider helping the student identify and prioritise any immediate needs and concerns.
  6. Refer the student to where they can receive further help. Follow up with them afterwards to see if they made contact with the referred service.

For students in a state of psychological or emotional distress, the primary referral point is the UC Health Centre. This never changes. It is located at the rear of the UCSA carpark beside The Foundry bar. Phone: +64 3 369 4444

 Note: if a student does not wish to accept your help, you must respect their decision unless there is a risk of imminent harm to themselves or others. What to do if there is such a risk is covered later in the guide.

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Need support now?

  • If you are concerned about yourself or someone, such as a colleague or student, ask about how they are doing and listen – you don’t need to be an expert.
  • If you are still concerned, suggest they contact a professional service such as their family doctor. The Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand Mauri tū, Mauri ora has excellent advice at mentalhealth.org.nz. Look for the ‘in crisis’ button.
  • Students can attend the UC Health Centre or Student Care. If you refer a student do check-in with them soon afterwards to see how they got on. These sorts of actions show you care, help remove the stigma around mental health and encourage others to get the help they need.