Felix Cat


The student newspaper of Imperial College London

Menu Icon


Issue 1845 (PDF)
The student newspaper of Imperial College London

Keep the Cat Free

Princess Beatrice at roundtable with ICU Mental Health Officer

Felix sat down with Aglaia Freccero to talk mental health, her encounter with Princess Beatrice, and her time as ICU Mental Health Officer.

Flx Aglaia Photo: Imperial College Union


in Issue 1845

Imperial College Union’s (ICU) Mental Health Officer attended a roundtable event with Princess Beatrice last week, ahead of Mental Health Week 2024.

ICU’s Aglaia Freccero, a first-year PhD student, was invited by organiser and education technology company Chegg as a student representative of the charity Student Minds.

The event aimed to encourage conversation around mental health and raise awareness about student wellbeing, ahead of Mental Health Week 2024 (13th -17th May).

Freccero described the event as a “genuinely positive experience” to encourage conversation around student mental health and wellbeing. But she expressed dismay that most tabloids and journals chose to focus on the fact that Princess Kate did not attend, rather than the topic of mental health itself.

She said that Princess Beatrice – diagnosed with dyslexia in her early days of schooling – was willing to “listen and understand” during the event, sharing her mental health experiences and fostering an environment in which students felt comfortable sharing their own. 

Freccero has helped develop Imperial’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy in her capacity as ICU Mental Health Officer. The strategy outlines Imperial’s ‘goals for creating an inclusive, respectful and compassionate environment that supports students and staff in their work and study’, according to the College Website.

Imperial is currently working towards the University Mental Health Award, created by Student Minds. Award winners are recognised for their demonstrated ‘excellent approaches to student and staff mental health’.

Freccero says that her personal lived experience is something many students at Imperial can relate to, and is the origin of her motivation to strive towards improving college-wide mental health and wellbeing.

She describes her work helping student mental health as ICU Mental Health Officer as her “purpose”.

She completed an undergraduate degree in biomedical sciences at UCL, before pursuing one Master’s degree in neuroscience and a second in public health. After graduating in October, she started her PhD.

Freccero took a year out of her undergraduate studies, and says she was “close to giving up” – indeed, those around her that she should do so.

Princess Beatrice was willing to listen and understand, sharing her mental health experiences and helping students share their own.

Coming from Italy, she experienced imposter syndrome. Imperial says that imposter syndrome – “a belief that you don’t deserve the achievements you have accomplished” – is common among students at prestigious universities such as Imperial.

Freccero was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and the mental health difficulties that she experienced impacted her studies. At UCL, it was a personal tutor who encouraged her to keep going and believed in her.

At Imperial, she recalls that a professor told her to drop out, but again, a personal tutor encouraged her and believed in her. She persevered and was awarded a first class in her Master’s degree. Since then, she has gone on to achieve two distinctions and the prestigious President’s scholarship for her PhD.

This year is Freccero’s second as ICU Mental Health Officer, and she has spent her time, raising awareness about mental health, developing Imperial’s strategy on the subject, and running campaigns to “reduce stigma” around it. She says that mental health is often overlooked at the College, explaining that the main goal here is to “strive for excellence”. Her mission, she says, has been to change that. She feels that “all it takes is one person” to believe in you, and that her story is testament to that.

Also in this issue...

Top Stories