Thursday 5th March marked ‘University Mental Health Day’, and to support the day of awareness, the University Wellbeing Centre organised a talk with Jonny Benjamin and Danny Rahim. Their story, “So close and yet so far” aims to improve education and awareness on the importance of openness and communication.
Despite coming from very different upbringings, the pair became friends at university, and after having each hit rock bottom with their mental health, they reconnected a few years later. They joked around like old friends but when it came to the nitty-gritty, the passion and depth behind their stories was hard-hitting.
Whilst the men spoke of their experiences with mental health, from schizoaffective disorder to self-harm, the room was silent. As they moved onto their stories and tools for recovery, a warm sense of hope and support filled the room. As ex-drama students and natural public speakers, the two men shared some top tips that I want to pass on to you:
Using a jar of glitter, Jonny explained how when the jar is moved the glitter goes wild, and that when we are having a bad day this is how our minds can get. Our thoughts and feelings whirl around manically like the glitter in the jar. But as you practice mindfulness (for Jonny this was through yoga) the glitter starts to settle. As the glitter starts to settle you begin to see a clearing at the top of the jar, allowing you the necessary space to reassess your thoughts and feelings with more clarity.
A trend that is definitely on the rise is ‘self-love’. Whether its making time to sit and read for half an hour or cooking yourself your favourite meal, take the time to appreciate yourself and your abilities. Talking on the topic of self-compassion, Jonny focused on learning to give yourself a break, to not be so down on yourself, and to take the time to realise how far you’ve come.
Probably the most obvious of the tips that they shared, but perhaps the most important. The power of talking about how you are feeling is unparalleled. It isn’t always easy to open up about your mental health or to ask for help. Danny suggested that one way to make this a little easier is the shoulder-to-shoulder technique. Talking to someone as you’re walking through the park or as you’re driving to the shops can take away some of the intimidation that comes with speaking face-to-face.
At the University of Lincoln, we are so fortunate to have the Student Wellbeing Centre. With regular drop-in sessions and lots of events throughout the term, there is always someone there to support you. Collaborating with the Students Union and the Peace of Mind Society, Student Wellbeing will be representing at the first of many Wellbeing Cafés on the 11th March with free cake and hot drinks! Find out more via their Facebook event.
You can also find out about all the support networks available in your area on the Hub of Hope app or the website.