Student Ambassadors, Triniti Dancy and Jessica Mead, Talk Mental Health

If you have been struggling with your mental health recently, you’re not alone. The Covid-19 pandemic has led to a challenging year for everyone and we’ve needed to pull together as a community more than ever before.

We spoke to two of our Student Ambassadors to get their thoughts on looking after your mental health whilst studying at University, what they have found helpful themselves, and what they have learned through their own experiences.

Both Trin and Jess are Master of Chiropractic students and both play an active role in our student community. Trin is in her First Year and is the AECC University College Wellbeing Champion. She runs our Wellbeing Instagram account, @aecc_wellbeing, and is a Student Ambassador. She also works with our Access and Participation team, working to ensure that all individuals have the support to access Higher Education.

Jess is in her Second Year and supports prospective and existing students and staff in our community as a Student Ambassador.

Combating stress while studying

Jess: “I think every student suffers with some form of stress whilst studying at some point: whether it is due to the studies themselves, stress from friendship issues, or managing their money now they live away from home.

“I love sport, so I enjoy going to the gym or training whenever I’m really stressed. It helps clear my mind and gets me into a new location so I can take a total break from whatever it is that is stressing me out.

“I also make appointments with the AECC University College Student Services team to talk through any issues I’m struggling with. Talking through problems massively helps reduce the effect they have on you – it’s like a weight being lifted off your shoulders when you share your stress.”

Trin: “I am yet to meet a university student that has not experienced stress as a result of the pressure to perform well, especially during the exam period. It’s very normal, but that doesn’t mean you should suffer in silence.

“If you are feeling stressed, it’s imperative to reach out before things become overwhelming. It’s so important to make the time to look after yourself while you are studying.

“I have experienced stress throughout my time in education, from quite a young age, alongside other mental health conditions. Like many others, I often find myself tying self-worth into exam performance and results, which can make education challenging at times.

“As well as this, symptoms of my conditions include difficulty concentrating, memory problems, and lack of motivation, which can impact the quality of my studies. If you find yourself experiencing similar symptoms and it is having an impact on your life/studies, please talk to someone.”

Mental Health and Covid-19

Trin: “I feel the pandemic has impacted many individuals’ mental health. There has been a lot of stress, grieving, and change that people have had to endure over the last year and a half, which is obviously extremely difficult to cope with.

“For those of you who have experienced such adversity, our Student Services team and Students’ Union are here to support you.

“On the other hand, I have noted many people have had the opportunity to slow down and take steps to improve their mental and physical health over the course of the pandemic and lockdowns.

“I believe that student expectations for the year have naturally been very different from the reality. The move to online learning, reduced access to university resources, and significantly less socialising time has made this year challenging.

“However, I also recognise that staff (and the Students’ Union) have worked extremely hard to ensure that students have the best possible experience and support. Ultimately, I feel that our AECC University College community has shown a huge amount of resilience and unity, supporting each other during this uncertain time.”

Help and Support at AECC University College

Jess: “If you do feel like you are struggling with your mental health, please know that there are so many people within the University College who are here to help you. You’re not the first student to struggle with their mental health and you won’t be the last, so you’re not alone in these feelings.

“Reaching out takes courage and it’s scary (I know, I’ve been there!) but once you step over that first hurdle then it gets so much easier. Don’t try to fight these worries/feelings on your own as it makes them ten times harder and bigger to fight; reach out for support and try not let these worries ruin the fun you’ll have at University.

“Student Services is the main area of AECC University College that helps students with their mental health. They have counsellors and wellbeing advisors that are there to support students through any difficulties they may be facing.

“There is also academic support for students to access if they are struggling with their studies. Furthermore, we have Student Services Ambassadors who are students who can help other students find resources which can help them with their mental health.”

Who to contact

You can find out more about the Mental Health services available to students here.

Our Student Services Advisers can offer advice and guidance on any practical issues including finding accommodation, local services such as travel and transport and health and community services.

Our Study Skills tutors offer 1-1 and group support for students to help with developing independent study skills and strategies.

Available to all EU and international students, our English for Academic Purposes tutor offers help with developing academic language, communication and study skills through 1-1 tutorials and small group work.

Our Wellbeing Advisers support the wellbeing of all students, and support those with mental health difficulties or difficult life circumstances. Students can seek advice and guidance for any concerns about their wellbeing.

Our Counselling Service provides support for managing any emotional or personal issues in a safe and confidential setting.

You can email StudentServices@aecc.ac.uk to organise Wellbeing, Counselling, or Study Skills support sessions.

You can also follow @aecc_wellbeing, @aeccsu, and @studentservicesaecc on Instagram.

Additionally, if you feel you have a strong idea that could support you and your peers (e.g. student-led support group), you can let Trin know by emailing: wellbeingchampion@aecc.ac.uk.

Trin DancyJess Mead

Above: Trin (left) and Jess (right)