In March of this year I became a fundraising champion for the charity Student Minds. Student Minds are an incredible charity whom support students in higher education to care for their own mental health and also to support others through any struggle they may have.
Student mental health is an issue that really needs to be supported as 1 in 4 adults experience a mental health difficulty through any point in their lifetime (Berwick et al). Next time you’re in a large lecture theatre or just in public look around and think of how many people may be suffering in silence without access to or the knowledge of how to gain support for the help they need. Through early intervention ‘the considerable risk’ of academic failure and dropping out linked to mental health can be lessened (RSPsych 2011). Research has also shown that undergraduate students have lower levels of wellbeing than the rest of the population (Student Academic Experience Survey 2016).
I am extremely passionate about student mental health and my role as a fundraising champion for Student Minds. My problems with my mental health have been apparent from childhood but really started being a problem for during my GCSEs and A levels. University has also been one of the toughest periods of my life through coping with separation anxiety, loneliness, isolation through not wanting to leave my room, and academic perfection linked to a fear of failure. I became aware of the work Student Minds do during my second year of university when my mental health started to become more of a ‘surviving over thriving’ period and looked through the different resources available to me, making me feel less alone, and reminding me to prioritise my own mental wellbeing.
On University Mental Health Day in March of this year Student Minds brought together the link between physical and mental wellbeing through their Active Mental Health day. https://youtu.be/ZVjnZevX_xg
Throughout the worst periods of my mental health during my GCSEs, A Levels and university exam revision my mum made sure I got out of the house each day to walk the dog. I found and still do find these walks extremely therapeutic. Stepping away from the stress of revision for half an hour gave me time to clear my head but also talk freely to my mum about all the worry. There’s nothing quite like telling your anxious thoughts to a large field and not taking them back to the house with you. Even when at university and away from my dog, if I began to feel anxious and could feel thoughts creeping in I’d try my hardest to step away from my desk and get myself outside, even if I just walked to the Tesco at the end of the road and back.
As well as this, in April the BBC aired ‘Mind Over Marathon’ in which ten mental health sufferers trained for and ran a marathon showing just how closely mental and physical health are linked. One of the runners Jake Tyler “blackdogwalks” on Instagram is now hiking his way around the UK to “promote movement as a way to manage mental health”. This really motivated me as I thought I won’t just be helping others but also myself, being active for my own mental wellbeing.
This is why myself, my mum and my little scotty dog Jack are taking on the challenge of walking a marathon across five days from the 7th -11th August. When thinking of ways I could fundraise a sponsored walk was my first idea. I toyed with the idea of a marathon in a day or a bigger amount say 50 miles across a week but then I thought no that is not realistic. I want to show other students, other young people the benefits of walking in a realistic manner that anyone can do. Motivating yourself to do any kind of exercise with a mental illness is hard, I’ve certainly never gone for a proper run (I used to run a mile with my best friend Lucy on a Friday night down some country lanes) but I’m not sure anyone’s going to sponsor me to do that. Finding something you enjoy, find bearable even is key to becoming active for your mental health. I’m seeing it as my own version of ‘Mind Over Marathon’ albeit not a traditional one.
We are taking on this walk from the 7th – 11th August and I’d love for you to support both myself and the amazing work Student Minds do here. Just a pound or three pounds instead of your coffee will help towards changing the face of student mental health.
Through your support Student Minds can continue the amazing work they do, researching and advocating for students across the UK and creating campaigns who help students just like you and me to not just survive but thrive through what can be very challenging years.
Any donations and support are so gratefully received and I hope you’ll support me (and my mum and dog)
Lots and lots of love,
Link to donate – https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/rosiesteele1