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Students encouraged to speak out on mental well-being

World Mental Health Awareness Day was marked at the College with various events designed to give students advice and information on their mental and physical well-being.

On Monday, the College was visited by representatives from Havering Mind, the Samaritans and other mental health charities, who spoke to students about ways to alleviate stress and break down barriers created by mental health issues. Common issues among young people include stress about performance in school and exams, general anxiety, eating disorders, body image disorders, depression and anger issues.

Ciaran White, of Havering Mind, gave out leaflets and encouraged students to try out a virtual reality headset which aims to calm the mind by transporting the wearer to an underwater world.

Ciaran said: “It was great to see so many young people talking openly about their mental health. I spoke to a girl who had experiences of anxiety. She talked openly with her friends about her problems and how she uses self-help methods and counselling. In terms of stigma this was a really positive thing to witness. If that young girl has the courage to speak up in front of her friends then there is hope for other people to do the same.”

Also visiting the College were representatives from Silent Secret, a new, award-winning free app for young people aged 11 to 19 to share their secrets and thoughts online - in a safe and anonymous way. There are growing numbers of young people seeking mental health support and Silent Secret digitally connects the young person to support organisations locally and nationally.

The second event, on Thursday, involved NHS services and staff based at Queen’s Hospital, Romford, including mental health, sexual health, careers and apprenticeships in the NHS, A&E staff and many others, including Havering CAMHS. Students were able to look around the information stands set out in the College Quad, talk to experts and gather helpful newsletters and leaflets.

Also last week, the health and well-being reps on the Student Council went to a conference about the new NHS Go app designed for young people to get 24/7 instant access to health information on the go.

The app is completely free and covers everything young people need to know - from student health to long term conditions - and it even has a map of local health services. Our Reps reported back that they thought this was a great app for busy students.