Mentality was started as a campaign this year, run by a group of students and lead by Bethany Davison, a second year physics student.
They secured £400 in funding from Imperial College Union to spend on publicity and events promoting the survey and mental health awareness, and with Union staff support put together their survey to finally quantify the mental health issues Imperial students face, sometimes on a daily basis.
Chris Kaye, Deputy President (Welfare), said about Mentality: “I’m delighted that a student-let campaign funded by Community & Welfare Board has been able to present such important data at the Welfare Seminar.
“It is a great success for Mentality and student-led campaigns as a whole.”
Beth spoke to Felix about what spurred her on to start the campaign.
Beth described how she herself suffered from depression in her first year at Imperial, and although she said he experiences with Imperial welfare provisions were wholly positive, she still felt incredibly lonely.
“I got better and returned to Imperial adamant that no student should feel the same loneliness that I felt,” said Beth. “The initial aims of Mentality were to increase awareness of mental health and the services at Imperial, reduce the stigma of mental health and to support students.
“As things started to progress, it became clear that my own positive experiences were not the norm. I heard too many stories where the support given was just not good enough or non-existent.”
Beth said it was then they released they needed to call for improvements, one of the main aims behind the survey results.
Explained Beth: “I don’t want students and staff to think that the point of the survey report is to say ‘Look at how bad Imperial is, everyone here is really stressed. It’s a terrible place to be!’
Yes, some of the statistics are pretty shocking and the personal stories paint a very grim picture and we don’t want to shy away from that.
However, I also want people to look at the results and use them to challenge their own ideas and preconceptions about mental health, and to think a bit deeper about the reasons behind these results and what they can do to improve the situation.”
Beth uses the example of stress surrounding exams and revision, something that 77% of the respondents of the survey had experienced at one point during their time at Imperial. She explains that the answer isn’t to simply get rid of exams, coursework or deadlines, but to teach students to manage stress and academic pressures in a healthy and positive way.
“To do this we could have departmental talks about dealing with stress, increase publicity for workshops run by the Counselling Service and do more to dispel some of the false rumours and beliefs that students have about exams and the way they’re moderated.”
“These are small changes which could make a difference to lots of students.”
Beth also explained that we all need to work together to improve the mental wellbeing of students and staff at Imperial.
Said Beth: “We all need to be involved, whether it’s as a student, taking the time to ask a friend how they really are or as a senior staff member in College, committing to expanding the counselling service.
“I want this report to be a positive thing and to inspire change.”