This week Imperial will be marking the UK's Mental Health Awareness Week with a series of workshops and events for staff and students.
The aim of the national initiative, run by the Mental Health Foundation, is to encourage the public to talk more openly about the issues that surround mental health, as well as to help people think about their own mental wellbeing. This year’s theme is ‘mindfulness’.
Imperial’s programme of activities, which include workshops focused on specific issues relating to mental health, will be held at the South Kensington and Hammersmith campuses. Activities are free with a range available to staff and students, with some requiring pre-registration.
I see first-hand the difference higher levels of awareness can make in our community
– Julia Easton
Mental Health First Aider
The week’s events provide an opportunity for the College community to learn more about ways to maintain their own mental health and wellbeing, with sessions on building personal resilience and stress management, as well as ways of supporting colleagues and friends who may be experiencing mental ill health. In addition, Ethos, the College’s fitness centre, are offering free exercise classes as part of the programme.
Leyla Okhai, Equality & Diversity Manager, said, “This is a really important subject, and we have tried to put on a real range of events to engage our staff and students across the week.
“Research shows that mindfulness can be a very effective way of managing stress – so I would like to invite the community to use this week as an opportunity to find out more and give it a try.
“I’m also pleased we have this opportunity to highlight the Mental Health First Aiders scheme.”
Mental Health First Aid training sessions are open on an ongoing basis to staff who are interested in finding out more about the issues surrounding mental health. The training enables staff to recognise the signs and symptoms when members of the community are having problems, to provide initial help, and to signpost appropriate professional support.
Julia Easton (Faculty of Natural Sciences), a trained Mental Health First Aider, said,
“From my perspective as Faculty Safety Manager, health and safety at work is not just about physical health, but mental health too. As an organisation, we should be interested in the mental wellbeing of our people. I see first-hand the difference higher levels of awareness can make in our community, and increasing numbers of people are becoming more comfortable with coming in to see me to talk.
“I found the Mental Health First Aid course itself very informative – it was a real learning experience for me. I would like to see more people doing the course, and within my area I want to promote the Mental Health First Aiders alongside the traditional College First Aiders scheme.”
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