Mental Health Awareness Week is coming next week from 13th - 19th May and the official theme from the Mental Health Foundation is Body Image. Body image is an insecurity that can affect all of us at any age and can really impact how we feel about ourselves. Feeling uncomfortable with your body can affect how you eat, exercise and sleep, which will impact your daily life and ability to study and research.

However, these are not just feelings you may have about your body. You may experience similar insecurities about studying, socialising and just living. You may feel that you don’t belong at Imperial, others are more intelligent than you, others are better at research than you, people don’t understand you and that you are alone. All these feelings are valid but there is support out there to help you.

The Advice Centre can offer independent, confidential and non-judgemental advice about academic and non-academic issues. This may include mitigating circumstances, academic appeals and also wellbeing advice. With exams and hand-ins coming up, it’s important to think about whether you need to submit mitigating circumstances. If you feel something has affected your performance, get in touch with the Advice Centre (advice@imperial.ac.uk) and they’ll be able to explain and guide you through the process. They are also offering wellbeing advice so if you just want someone to talk to, you can always make an appointment. The team will be out and about round campus, so drop by one of their stalls to see them or follow their social media campaign.

Other sources of support that may be useful include: Disabilities Advisory Service, who can give advice about concentration, studying and revising; Chaplaincy, who offer a quite space for meditation, mindfulness or religious practices; Ethos offers sports facilities and classes and the Student Hub can help if you’re concerned about accommodation or finances.

The Counselling and Mental Health Advice Service can run sessions on personal issues for you to talk through and support you if you are experiencing mental health difficulties. Alternatively, you can reach out to a GP at Imperial College Health Centre if you are experiencing difficulties.

Your department is a great source of support especially for information about exams, course content and research support. You can reach out to your personal tutor, course leader, senior tutor or supervisor as they can speak with you or signpost you to a service or someone you can speak to. Speak to your peers as well, they may have some tips, may be feeling the same, or you may be able to work together and take breaks together.

The Graduate School is running loads of events during the week so head along and get involved in their activities. You can find all their activities here: https://www.imperial.ac.uk/study/pg/graduate-school/events/mental-health-awareness-week/

Everyone has mental health and your mental wellbeing can fluctuate. Having good mental wellbeing can give you greater self-confidence, healthier behaviours and an improved quality of life. During this busy period try to notice your mental wellbeing and see when it is slipping so you can take action. Some things you may want to be aware of are sleep, eating, exercising, your environment, the people around you and doing something you enjoy. It’s important to find a balance with everything you are doing but that balance will look different for everyone. You can’t compare what you are doing with others as everyone does it their own way. Finally, it’s okay to ask for help, whether that’s speaking to a friend, someone at the university or the Union or searching online. Asking for help is a sign of strength and you should use it.