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Jess McGrellis
Issues have arisen surrounding the name of the event 'Positivity Week' proposed by the SRC. I would like to take this opportunity firstly to apologise for any offence which may have been caused, secondly to correct some misconceptions about the concept behind the week, and thirdly to outline how we plan to move on from here to create a welfare week which will benefit the students of the University of Glasgow.

I am sorry for any offence caused by the choice of the name 'Positivity Week'. This was not our intention. I believe that there has been a misunderstanding over the concept and objectives for the week, and this misunderstanding has been caused by a poorly-worded email sent out by us to all students. The email incorrectly stated that the main focus of the week would be mental health issues. This is not accurate, which brings me on to my second point.

The thinking behind Positivity Week was to create an inclusive event that would reach out to all students, including those who would not self-identify as having a mental-health problem (one of the reasons 'Mental Health Week' would not be a sufficient name). The objective is emphatically not to tell people to 'smile and be cured', or indeed to presume to 'treat' any kind of mental illness. Rather, we hoped to widen the scope of previous Health and Mental Health Awareness Weeks, and concentrate on the small things that people can do each day to feel more positive about themselves, their friends and fellow students, and their environment. The notion of positivity in relation to mental health and wellbeing is not a new one - it is echoed in NUS Scotland's 'Think Positive' campaign, the Mental Health Foundation's 'Positive Thinking' podcast and information materials on 'Good Mental Health' and Scottish Association for Mental Health's 'Positive Steps for Mental Health' campaign on getting active, amongst many others.

The overall concept was discussed at the first meeting of Council, and a number of exciting and positive ideas for the week were proposed. I also discussed the proposal with the University's Counselling and Psychological Service, and with the Equality and Diversity Unit, both of whom were supportive. I do not, therefore, feel that the initial concept and objectives were insensitive or misguided, albeit we failed to communicate these appropriately in our email.

I would like to take this opportunity to say to everyone who supported Positivity Week and was interested in getting involved that I hope that you will still want to get involved in this week. For those of you from Psychology and other areas who were interested in exploring positivity and mental wellbeing there will still be opportunity for that and I hope that you have not been offended by Mr Hainey's sweeping statement that 'positivity and mental health issues have nothing to do with each other'. While positivity may not be relevant to some people's understanding of mental health and wellbeing, we still want to raise awareness of and support those who get by day-to-day with mindfulness techniques and other positive therapies. Furthermore, Mr Hainey, please don't 'pointedly refuse to make assumptions about any of the organisers experience with mental health issues' and then go on to do exactly that.

Having said all of this, I and my colleagues at the SRC do not feel that Positivity Week can continue in its current form with such tension surrounding the name that overshadows what this week is really about. It is important that this issue is put to rest so I have the opportunity to direct my energy into creating a week which will be beneficial and support students in the ways that they need. We have now consulted with Council over the re-branding of the week, and have chosen a new name that reflects the overall broad aims of the week in an appropriate way.

Therefore, I would like to announce that the SRC will be running 'Welfare Week' on the 12th-16 of November and are keen for people to get involved. This week will run with an overarching theme focusing on maintaining a healthy lifestyle, mental wellbeing, financial welfare and more to be revealed at the upcoming launch.


0 replies on “Positivity Week: SRC VP Student Support Jess Mc Grellis responds”

Emma says:

Liam Hainey writing a sensationalised and inaccurate piece about something he clearly doesn’t understand? Well, that’s nothing new. Don’t worry Jess, the man clearly has no idea about mental health issues, and I look forward to getting involved.

Jack H says:

Emma, your reply is clearly sensationalised and inaccurate. Where you being ironic?

Liam Patrick Hainey says:

I’m just curious to know what other articles of mine your referring to? Also though would like to congratulate the SRC on making a good call. I’m really pleased and hope the week goes off well.

Emma says:

Every time your name in QMUnicate came up, I just felt embarrassed to be honest (not that the rest of it wasn’t just as painful to read). You took ‘Positivity’ in the completely wrong context and started a witch hunt over it. It scares me when someone in the press can completely misunderstand something and still get published.

Liam Patrick Hainey says:

It’s obviouly a subjective deabte, and for a lot of people, a very personal one as well. You may disagree with my article, but not everyone did. I’d like to think it started a discussion rather than a witch hunt. Any articles in particular? Seriously, it’s not often you get feedback from a total stranger.

Emma says:

We’ve met in passing, probably a couple of years ago. I don’t have a backlog of QMUnicates, because after the completely misguided 4chan article I just stopped reading.

Your ‘Positivity Week’ article and It’s aggressive tone was witch-hunty, it didn’t start any sort of reasoned discussion. I’ve suffered with borderline personality disorder since I was about 14, and to me, ‘positivity’ has nothing to do with telling myself to suck it up. I was treated like crap for YEARS because things work differently for me. The reason the word ‘positivity’ is used in relation to mental health isn’t because we’re still stuck in the 50s and think if ‘depressed’ people just thought about puppies, they’d be happy. No, it’s about the people who outright deny that it’s a problem and discriminate and hurt those who are mentally ill. These people don’t have a positive attitude, and *that* is what needs to be fixed. Hence, ‘Positivity Week’, let’s be open and accepting to people who may suffer from a mental illness, irrelevant of severity, instead of treating them like crap.That was your fundamental misunderstanding.

Guest says:

Hi Emma,

I’ve been floating around qmunicate for a number of years now, and Liam’s main articles have been on cricket, Portsmouth FC, the rise of gay rights in professional sports and supporting Partick Thistle.

Not only were they not sensationalised and inaccurate, they were not even in the vein of content that COULD be sensationalised and inaccurate.

I can also personally attest to his commitment, passion, and knowledge regarding mental health issues.

This is a needless personal attack.

Colum Fraser says:

That comment’s from me, I have no idea why it’s been anonymous-ised.

Sarah Jones says:

I’m super happy that
the name of the week has been changed, its great to see in some respects the SRC
really do listen to issues we students raise.

I am however quite sad that in this article it pretty much seems to say the SRC
did nothing wrong I’m sorry you were offended false apology. I would rather not be patronised with
suggestions our complaints are just because we misunderstood. From her response
her idea of inclusiveness is psychology students and those without mental
health problems, nothing seems to be addressed at those with mental health
problems whether diagnosed or not given 30 percent of people experience a
mental health problem annually I don’t know why a week on health and mental
health should be mainly aimed at those who don’t to the exclusion
of those who do. There are also problems with things such as positive psychology
so I don’t know why these are being put forward as if there is consensus around
such and reducing therapies you list to to the idea of positivity is really off-putting
to people who may consider accessing such services.

I don’t know why there is an attack on
Liam Hainey either, I don’t know him so maybe there is something I am missing,
but his article seemed clear and speaking from personal experience.

Ali McIvor says:

To be fair to the SRC, what I found more offensive was people telling me why I should be offended over this name change as personally I have more serious things to worry about than a name.

On a personal note, I have had serious mental health issues to the point these issues became life threatening and have come close to destroying my life entirely even though I am glad to say I am not a risk to myself anymore.

Does that give me any more moral authority to attack people whenever the subject of mental health is brought up? Eh no, when it comes to talking about mental health all that means is that my experience gets added to the pile of experiences others have had.

Liam Hainey doesn’t really have the right to get up on a pedestal and speak as if he is representing every student who may have had a mental health problem and who may or may not have been offended by a name. Maybe that wasn’t his intention but I don’t need anyone rattling a Sabre up in the air supposedly on my behalf, thanks. Maybe you are a really nice guy and we would probably get on great over a pint but please don’t try to dictate to me how I should think.

Personally, while I was a bit perplexed by the name change, (if it ain’t broke why fix it?) I didn’t see it as a problem or something that would reinforce negative stereotyping. As far as I could see it didn’t belittle or condemn those with mental illness but just treated it as the everyday occurrence it is. Considering the numbers of people who suffer from some form of mental condition we should be treating it as something that is not unusual in my opinion, but I stress that is only my own opinion.

Unlike an incident not to long ago where one of the debating societies had one of the most offensive “debates” on the treatment of mental health I have ever seen. It would have been more use for some of the people here to have attacked that as it was just out to belittle people with mental health problems for daring to take medication to control their condition.

All in all, I have to say this is a non-issue, but that is purely my own opinion and seems to be an argument for the sake of it.

One of the things I would hope though, given that so many people here have expressed their passion for mental health and in particular discrimination against those with mental health issues is to see some kind of talk or event by them on the subject during the now renamed “Welfare Week”.

If it doesn’t materialise though I’ll just have to assume that most of those out on the witch hunt were full of shit and just out to attack someone for a laugh. Though maybe I’m just not “positive” enough and you’ll all prove me wrong.

Liam Patrick Hainey says:

If you read my article again you can see that explicitly said that my experiences were not universal and that I would never claim them to be. The piece was entirely my views and personal experience.

Erin Katsikea says:

Without wanting to perpetuate this already futile argument, as the name
of the “Positivity Week” has been changed, I want to add something.
I
think that the problem with the name was not so much that it gave the impression of carrying out the misinformed idea that most people have about mental illness and how,
unfortunately, many people believe you can just “turn it off”. A very unfortunate reality by the way, which from what I understand not many people with mental illness that have spoken up concerning this issue have been confronted with, but a reality nonetheless.The “problem”, more correctly put; the controversial element of it, was
that there is no need to cover up what mental illness really is and no need to
tiptoe around it as if people’s feelings will get hurt if society acknowledges their mental illness. Calling things by their name is usually the safest choice. If you live with it, after some time you get to be honest about it and that is what actually helps. From what I gather most of us speak from personal experience and I think it is a bit silly to diminish the expression of somebody’s ideas to a “witch hunt”. Especially if that someone has personal experience as well.
Nobody said this is a battlefield. I want to believe that the original intentions of both the SRC and the disputing party, whether that be Liam Hainey or anyone else for that matter, were ,respectively,neither disrespectful nor spiteful.
This should be seen as just a discussion. Otherwise we just digress, ending up placing blames and defending our opinions, without actually paying much attention to our opinions and materializing them as Ali McIvor said.

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