Mental health: more important now than ever

By Rosie Dowsing

Exam season gets to us all. As the sun begins to emerge for what feels like the first time in 2018, students retreat further and further into studying. It is the only time when getting to the library at 9am is just too late to find a seat, and many of us begin to wish we had worked a little bit harder throughout the year.

Exam season may be a time to set yourself targets, consolidate your knowledge and prove your ability, but the pressure can grow incessantly and amount to feeling like a dense cloud just waiting to burst.

Mental health has been an issue raised frequently in the past few years, both through university support policies and larger efforts to raise awareness on a national level. Last year the official charity of the London Marathon was Heads Together, which gave mental health the platform it needed for destigmatisation and positive change. Durham’s very own DUCFS also recognised the important cause and raised £106,000 for Mind this year.

There is no doubt that millennials are at a higher risk of developing mental health issues

Depression, anxiety and panic attacks are just some of the problems that can arise when so much is at stake during exam season. This may have always been the case, but there is no doubt that millennials are at a higher risk of developing mental health issues. When mixed with socially prescribed perfectionism and personal ambitions, the financial pressure of university fees, unpredictable futures and an impossible housing market takes its toll on our student generation.

At an institutional level, there remains more to be done. However, with only a week to go until exams, students should first focus on themselves and their wellbeing. Exams may be important, but so is our health.

The group sit together after a walk in memory of Finn Aberton (Credits: Alex Abberton)

Day to day, there are many simple activities that can enrich body and mind without requiring too much commitment or money. A walk along the river, a coffee with a friend, a morning yoga routine or attending evening classes such as life drawing in the DSU. More importantly, talk about how you’re feeling. The university provides counselling services, and chatting to friends about it is a big help. After all, a problem shared can often be a problem halved.

Exams may be important, but so is our health

While many students used their last Sunday before the much anticipated Easter Term to revise or finish dissertations, Durham University Boat Club did something hugely positive with regards to Mental Health awareness. They walked for 24 miles over the course of 8 hours along the River Wear, raising over £3,600 for Mental Health Charity, Mind. The walk took place in memory of team-member and friend, Finn Abberton, who sadly passed away in December.

DUBC walk in memory of Finn Aberton (Credits: Gabi Hatfield)

“On Sunday 22nd April, past and present members of DUBC and countless others came together to honour the memory of recent alumnus Finn Abberton, a treasured family, friend and teammate,” said organiser Gabi Hatfield.

The walk took place in memory team-member and friend, Finn Abberton

“The number of people who took part was testament to what an incredible person Finn was,” Gabi added, “it was a very special day for everyone involved. The blisters and aching muscles were all worthwhile for the fish and chips by the sea.”

Pictured above, the 30 Boat Club members and friends who walked from Durham to Roker did something incredibly special. Not only did they quadruple their £750 target by raising money for a charity close to Finn’s heart, but they also sent a message to students in his memory during a crucial time in the year. With the £3,600 raised, Mind will be able to continue supporting those who suffer from mental health illnesses so that no one has to feel alone.

The tips for exam season pictured below have been provided by patient.info, an NHS accredited health website. Their bonus tip: embrace the stress. If you weren’t nervous during exams, then you wouldn’t be human. You can download their tips for exam stress poster here.

Illustrations: @rhealeyart

 

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