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While mental health problems can affect anyone, any day of the year, 10th October is a great day for us all to show our support for better mental health and start looking after our own wellbeing. At the University of Law our students are setting out on their careers in a world that is open to scrutiny as never before. Information is available immediately and constantly. Opinions are freely shared, judgements are readily offered and evaluations are instantly available.
Being at university is an exciting time and learning is a key way to support mental wellbeing. However, studying is likely to bring a number of changes. It can be enjoyable and interesting but it can also be challenging. This is a time for meeting and working with new people; taking exams and meeting deadlines; managing finances; coping with homesickness; balancing the demands of studying with other commitments; maintaining relationships with family, partners and friends; leaving home, finding new housing and living with new people. For our law students there can be the added challenge of securing a training contract or employment in a legal environment.
Change is part of growing and developing as human beings. We will all have to deal with stressful events in our lives and some of our aspirations may not be realised. While we may have to accept some things cannot be changed, we can control how we interpret and respond to these events. It can help to look beyond what is happening now and consider how future circumstances may be a little better.
To overcome adverse situations, we can take decisive actions, rather than detaching completely from problems and stresses and wishing they would just go away. Developing confidence in our ability to solve problems and trusting our instincts helps build resilience and promotes a positive view of ourselves.
Experiencing adverse events provides opportunities for self-discovery. We often learn something about ourselves and may find that we have grown in some respect as a result a challenging situation. Many people who have experienced tragedies and hardship have found better relationships, a greater sense of strength even while feeling vulnerable, increased sense of self-worth, a more developed spirituality and heightened appreciation for life.
Often, when dealing with challenging situations, we can lose sight of the bigger picture. Even when facing very difficult events, try to consider the stressful situation in a broader context and keep a long-term perspective. This can prevent us from blowing the event out of proportion.
Having a trusted person to share our experiences with is valuable. Good relationships with close family members, friends or others are important. Accepting help and support from those who care about us and will listen to us builds our resilience. On the other hand, helping others when they are struggling can also benefit the person providing help.
It is vital to pay attention to your own needs and feelings. Engage in activities that you enjoy and find relaxing. Exercise regularly. Taking care of yourself helps to keep your mind and body prepared to deal with situations that require resilience.
At The University of Law, we are delighted to be working in partnership with national mental health charity Rethink to offer mental health awareness training to our students in the week following Mental Health Day. Building on our experience of delivering mental health awareness training over the past year, we are now developing a comprehensive strategy to ensure all staff have the skills and confidence to support student wellbeing. We are using our social media to promote wellbeing to staff and focus on good mental health. Throughout the week which includes World Mental Health Day we will be sharing top tips for wellbeing.
Aidan Moloney is Mental Health Advisor at the University of Law.
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