LUSU Gives aim to eliminate stigma of mental illness by organising ‘Time To Talk’ event

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LUSU Gives are hosting a Time to Talk event on Thursday, Week 4, from 6pm until 8pm in County Bar. Time to Talk is a national campaign which aims to start one million conversations about mental health on February 6th, with the intention that small things can make a big difference when dealing with mental health problems.

The rationale behind the campaign is that “if your friend has a broken leg, or he or she had just come out of hospital after an operation, you probably wouldn’t think twice about asking how they were” – mental illness is often overlooked due to the fact that it is not as visible or as easy to explain as a physical illness, therefore the majority of people are afraid to discuss it. The Time to Talk campaign hopes to get people talking about mental health and raise awareness; as well as nurture understanding and support amongst friends and families in order to tackle mental illness.

SCAN spoke to Cross Campus Office (CCO) Charity Mia Scott about the event, who claimed that “mental health problems, particularly anxiety and depression, are most common among students and people in their 20s”. She mentioned existing organisations such Nightline – who rely entirely on student volunteers to answer phones, emails and now provide an Instant Messaging service between 10pm and 8am – and the Counselling service which are available to assist students in need. The vast majority of the time, mental health problems can be relieved to some extent by discussing the issue, a sentiment clearly endorsed by Time to Talk.

Scott also spoke of activities taking place at the event: “Nightline and the Counselling service [are] coming to talk at the event and guest speakers are doing poems, monologues [and] speeches… There will also be live music and other things going on.” She revealed that the event had already garnered a lot of interest amongst students, and admitted that this wasn’t surprising, as one in four students will experience mental health issues at some point during their time at university.

Scott told SCAN: “The LUSU Gives exec and I were keen to bring Time to Talk to Lancaster for several reasons. Firstly, we noticed an increased awareness of the stigma surrounding mental health, after various conversations with other students and members of LUSU Gives. I also noticed that it was mentioned as a priority for Welfare officers during several Equality, Welfare, Diversity (EWD) Councils and Winter Officer Training – which took place over Christmas. Also, of course, the cuts to the Counselling service played a huge part, as it made us look into other avenues that can help people who are struggling with mental health issues at university. There are so many services out there for students and we wanted to raise awareness of them.”

With regards to what she hoped the event would achieve, Scott stated “we hope that those who attend the event will come away feeling happier – knowing that if they are somebody who happens to suffer from a mental health problem, they have places to go, people to talk to and most importantly, that they are not alone.” She added that there will be a chance to sign the Time for Change pledge, which would mean that “they have agreed to help tackle the stigma surrounding mental health.”

As previously stated, the event will be taking place Thursday, Week 4, 6pm until 8pm in County Bar. To reflect the importance of the event, the newly-elected Chair of Union Council, Damon Fairley, has rescheduled the Union Council planned for that evening to Thursday, Week 5 – to enable all students and LUSU officers to attend the event.

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