GUSA mental health roundup

Selena Jackson
GUSA correspondent

Last Friday saw 12 GUSA council members battle through a grueling 18-hour static cycle, made no easier by the heavy wind and lashings of rain with no more than a miniscule gazebo covering the bikes.

As mentioned previously in the Glasgow Guardian, this event was organised by the GUSA council in aid of their partnership with the Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH), and was one of many that will be staged throughout the academic year. Raising awareness of mental health issues is one of GUSA’s main aims this year, and they hope both to encourage students to get talking about their psychological health, as well as provide coping mechanisms to help those who are suffering.

While the cycle was intended mainly to raise awareness of ill mental health, the team managed to raise over £600 in donations to SAMH’s “Standing Together for Mental Health” campaign, and – with a bit of help from some friends – the team managed to cycle the equivalent distance of that between Glasgow and Calais. In addition, 125 people added their names to SAMH’s campaign, which now means that 125 more students on campus are more aware of the issues surrounding mental health, and how to tackle the lasting stigma attached to it.

It is crucially important that this campaign continues to build momentum in order to reach out to everyone who needs support, and whether suffering personally, worried about a friend or family member, or just wanting to add weight to the campaign, anyone can get involved simply by donating a few pounds or by adding their name to SAMH’s campaign.

Their partnership with SAMH is just one of the ways in which GUSA aims to reach out to students suffering from mental health issues on campus. The buddy scheme, which has been running since 2012, was launched with a view to increasing the levels of participation in sport – which has also been proven to improve long-term mental wellbeing. With 23 buddies trained each year, there is help available for up to 46 students feeling anxious about anything from disabilities, a lack of motivation or uncertainty about picking up a new sport, or indeed existing mental health problems.

Of course, while for most people physical activity is heavily encouraged, at times it can actually be at the core of the problem. Excessive exercise and under eating are two rapidly growing problems; two problems which GUSA has recognised and is keen to tackle. The Starfish Group has been running for several years, and was set up by GUSA and the university Psychological Services. It takes the form of weekly meetings, which anyone is welcome to attend – whether personally affected by these issues or worried about a friend. It simply works to develop a friendly atmosphere where people can open up about their anxieties and receive advice from others in the same position.

These campaigns have already seen huge progress, and a success can be counted for every single person who benefits from these schemes.

In addition to the work GUSA are doing to promote awareness of mental wellbeing, they will be running certain events and campaigns through the next semester to highlight the benefits of club sport participation in increasing graduate employability prospects and exam success.

For more information about the events GUSA will be running this year and the progress they are making, the 2014 Healthy Body Healthy Mind report is available online, and regular updates are posted on GUSA’s Facebook page.

Donations to GUSA and SAMH’s joint campaign can be made at www.justgiving.com/GUSAGetActive.