MENTAL HEALTH EDITION
IN SUPPORT OF STUDENT MINDS
PLATFORM COMMITTEE 2019-20
HARVEY CLITHEROE EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
KATIE ANSELL DEPUTY-EDITOR
KATIE SHARMAN HEAD OF MARKETING
HOLLY ALDRIDGE-BALL HEAD OF DESIGN
MEG CHADDERTON DEPUTY DESIGN
EVE WATSON FASHION EDITOR
ABI TRUNK TRAVEL AND LIFESTYLE EDITOR
NICK LOWE MUSIC EDITOR
FAITH PRING NEWS EDITOR
CRISTI BRATU SPORTS EDITOR
JAMIE MORRIS CULTURE AND ENTERTAINMENT EDITOR
HELEN RODGERS CREATIVE CORNER EDITOR
SRIPRIYA VATTIKULA SOCIAL SECRETARY
KIYA CUSSANS SOCIAL SECRETARY
First off, thank you for picking up an edition of Platform and supporting our society! It has been a great start to the academic year for us, in Fresher’s week we had almost three times the sign ups compared to last year, we had our most successful month ever for online views in October, doubling last year’s average and we have been recognised as the most developed publication at the SPA regional awards! I must thank all of our writers and committee, new and old, over the last 3 1 years since our relaunch for their dedication and hard work in achieving the award for most developed publication. Our success this term has not just taken place behind a screen, we have held several fundraisers in aid of the Student Minds charity including pub quiz’s and a charity netball tournament against the other Trent Medias where we lost heroically. It has been such a pleasure to raise money for Student Minds whilst also being able to do things we enjoy. It has been great to see so many new talented individuals getting involved with Platform from all kinds of artistic backgrounds. This year we have tried experimenting with the content we produce, in this edition you will find a photography spread inspired by student mental health accompanied with an original poem. There is also a Student Minds podcast on our website promoting the print edition. These are examples of how we have been able to branch out and showcase new styles of creativity and expression. This is everything that Platform is about. We have tried something different with the theme of this edition. In accordance with our charitable campaign supporting Student Minds, we have dedicated this edition to raising awareness of Mental health. Each article is themed around mental health and will tackle a different issue or idea related to each section. We chose Mental Health as the theme for this edition as many of us have dealt with mental health either personally or through friends and family. We want this edition to make students aware that they are not alone, and no problem is insignificant or doesn’t matter. Being a student is a hugely stressful time and we have tried to capture the worries and stressful moments in this edition, as well as including a few more light-hearted pieces.
I hope you enjoy reading our magazine, it has been a joy to create. Harv (Editor)
We are extremely pleased that the Platform magazine editorial team have chosen to support Student Minds and are committed to raising awareness about mental health. The money they have raised to support our work will enable us to empower more students and members of the university community to look after their own mental health, support those around them and create change - for this, we are truly grateful. You can find out more about our work at studentminds.org.uk. Kate (Fundraising Officer at Student Minds)
Written by Polly Harrison Designed by Will Rayner
We all know that starting, and completing, University can be one of the best times in your life. It can also be one of the worst. Whilst there may be a variety of resources available to you provided by the University, it cannot be denied that sometimes this just isnâ€™t enough. Two NTU students were brave enough to talk to us about their experiences with mental health during University and how sometimes itâ€™s something you can talk about, and sometimes we darenâ€™t go near it.
Anonymous: I started going to counselling for my anxiety and depression when I was just 13 years old. One day, the counsellor told me that every time I wanted to self-harm I should think about someone I loved that would be upset and hurt if they found out what I was doing. Though my mental health demons had tried their hardest to convince me that no one loved me, there was still one person I missed more than any: my grandad. I found I could prevent harming myself by thinking of him, but I struggled to have a clear and logical outlook on the situation I was in which is why, 2 years later, I was admitted to hospital after taking an overdose. My counsellor, who I knew very well at this point and who believed I was making a recovery, came to visit me. She told me the same thing again: how would my grandad feel if he knew what I had done to myself? For some people, that technique wouldn’t work – the guilt may make them worse – but for me, the second time, it did work. A month after coming out of the hospital, I stopped self-harming and haven’t done so in the 7 years since. But what do you do when the person you’re essentially “living for” is no longer living themselves? In January 2016, my grandad was sectioned because his health was deteriorating due to dementia. It was heart-wrenching and souldestroying to watch someone who’d been so full of life, a person who always treated people with the utmost kindness, become a confused and aggravated shell of a man. His deterioration saw my mental health deteriorate again and I had to revise how I dealt with the relapse. Luckily, University helped me through this and find friends who truly understood and cared for me which really helped. Nonetheless, I still thought of my grandad – despite his health, he still loved me and other people still loved me. For me, that was enough to stop me from doing anything drastic. Just over a year after he was sectioned my grandfather passed away. His death welcomed one of the darkest times of my life when I had very little hope and struggled to cope with everyday tasks. The urge to self-harm, to transfer my pain from my heart to elsewhere on my body, was back more than ever, so I got a tattoo. Whenever I wanted to self-harm, I would be reminded of him and look at it. I still get the urges, but when I do, I look at the tattoo, I think about all the good memories I have of my grandad, imagine how he looked at life and what he believed I could achieve, and it stops me from wanting to hurt myself.
If you, or anyone else you know, is struggling with mental health issues, please contact NTU Wellbeing or other mental health services to get the help you need.
Polly Jean Harrison: When you’re 13, you don’t really expect a lot to happen to you. Generally, you go to school, you come home and hang out with your friends every now and again. For me though, 13 was the year I was in a car accident that changed my life. I was getting a lift home with my friend and her mum when the car veered off the road and rolled down the embankment. Yes, it was as bad as it sounds but no, no-one was seriously hurt. Thankfully the car was the worst casualty, and we all had some injuries but there was nothing life-threatening. I don’t remember a lot from that day, and that will be thanks to the mammoth concussion I received from being hit in the head as we went down. My recovery wasn’t terribly long, and thankfully the accident happened just before the summer holidays, so I had time to get back to normal, but it was what was going on inside my head that turned out to be the biggest problem. Things started to get interesting about a year later; I started to have mood swings; little things upset me a lot, and I had my first ever panic attack, along with memories from the accident coming back in ‘flashbacks’ suddenly. I just felt really bad all the time, and I didn’t understand why. I didn’t tell anyone this, I didn’t know-how. I was a pretty quiet kid up to that point, and I didn’t really know how to explain what I was going through, so I decided to just grin and bear it. The first time I told somebody about it, I felt so small. I was referred to two different types of counselling, and although as a child this didn’t really help me, I can definitely see the benefits of it now. I’ve come a long way with my mental issues since. It would be a lie to say that I am completely over it; I still have wobbles every now and again, bad anxiety days where getting out of bed seems impossible, or days where I feel awful for no reason. But mental health is just a thing that happened to me. That’s all.
Is there a fu Gaming often gets a bad rep when it comes to its effect on people’s lives, with the industry being blamed for influencing negative behavioural changes and being a cause of addiction.
In June 2018, negative gaming patterns were identified as their own category of mental health simply called “gaming disorder”. Most recently, China has taken gaming regulation to the next level and limited all gaming for under 18s to a limit of 90 minutes a day and never after 10pm. It is clear that we are becoming aware of the potentially harmful effects of gaming in society. However, rather than participating in that debate, we’ll be looking at whether there is a brighter future ahead for gaming that many may not have even considered: a role in mental health support. It may seem a bit far-fetched today, but there are some fascinating developments being made in the industry that deserve more mainstream attention. Virtual therapy There are huge advancements in the VR industry in the way of mental health treatment. VR enabled psychological therapy is where patients navigate through digitally-created environments and complete specially designed tasks tailored to treat a specific ailment. This service is already delivering more positive mental health outcomes than regular psychiatry and in the future it is expected to provide a better-quality service that is available cheaper and at mass scale. VR and gaming is also being used to treat soldiers with PTSD or anyone who experiences regular anxiety. Deep VR is a new game that places the character in a calming underwater environment where you navigate through breathing, such as deep breaths allowing you to swim up further. This will put the gamer in a calming state of meditation and transport them far away from their real-world stress. The creators
for the gam
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at the deep team say: â€œthe goal is not to use DEEP as a tool to get rid of anxiety and depressive feelings altogether, but rather to embolden players to become aware of the ebb and flow of these emotions and ride them throughâ€?. Physical therapy The Wii is already used to give patients the confidence to move their limbs and encourage movement in a way that matches up with their treatment plans, but this gaming technology is expected to become a lot more advanced in the future. A platform called CAREN straps patients into a virtual world where they can develop and build their mobility.
The game makes detailed analysis and evaluations of their subjects behavior and can include visual, auditory, vestibular and tactile sensory inputs. The therapist can monitor how the patient responds to the movement challenges in the game and alter the treatment plan accordingly. Before we finish, something must be said about how traditional gaming can help people through tough times. Player testimonies say online gaming can create a network of friends for people who struggle making mates in person and it can be used as an escape when the mind is overwhelmed by negative feelings. If you are looking to learn more about modern day gaming and mental health, we recommend the Low Batteries series on YouTube. Also, if you are concerned that you or a friend may have a gaming addiction, please consider reaching out to your GP for help and guidance.
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Written by Harvey Clitheroe Designed by Tyler Smith
ON SCREEN Films have the power to affect millions and therefore have a duty to respectfully represent what they show.
Mental health on screen is often polarising to audiences. Some films depict mental health issues with a more sympathetic representation, whilst others highlight them as disgusting diseases with little understanding. We’ll be challenging those myths and showing the accurate representations in film. 8
Mental illness doesn’t define you - TRUE Mental health in films can often lead to negative stigmas attached to the illness. Films dramatise it for a greater effect, but that can be damaging. Michael Myers in Halloween (1978) suffers with a mental illness but it’s used to explain why he is a mass murderer. The film uses mental illness to suggest that there is no cure and he is evil. When in fact, his doctor let him down by parading him to the world as his patient. Silver Linings Playbook (2012) and A Beautiful Mind (2001) depict people suffering with their mental health but it doesn’t define them. In the latter, Russell Crowe’s character is an academic at a prestigious university who begins to suffer with paranoid schizophrenia. This doesn’t turn him into a murderer, instead he struggles with his illness but manages to live a fulfilling life by starting a family and becoming a
successful professor. These films successfully show mental illness in a more sympathetic tone with no stigmas attached to it.
Women are crazy, men are monsters - FALSE Fatal Attraction (1987) depicts a woman suffering from borderline personality disorder but highlights her as a crazy and unstable monster. Instead of helping her and finding treatment, they end it by killing her. It perpetuates a myth that people with mental health issues are violent and unpredictable. Female ‘madness’ and ‘hysteria’ is often hyper-sexualised in cinema as it becomes a fetish that a woman’s only goal is to sex with a man. Similarly, men suffering with mental illnesses are often depicted as monsters. 12 Monkeys (1995) shows Brad Pitt’s character as a monster who expresses his dissatisfaction with humanity. His character’s actions lead to killing almost all humans. He appears to be suffering from schizophrenia but receives no treatment in the mental institution - his condition isn’t stated in the film, as he is simply known as the “mad son”.
seeking help. Films like Girl, Interrupted (1999), 28 Days (2000) and It’s Kind of a Funny Story (2010) show institutions such as rehab and psychiatric hospitals as helpful and less like a prison sentence. The main characters in these films realised that once they accepted the help being offered to them, they gradually begin to recover. Negative stereotypes include films like One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975) that show institutions as malevolent and having little regard for patient welfare. This negative stereotype could instil fear and lead to someone not seeking treatment.
Mental illness only affects disturbed people – FALSE In the past, films depicting mental health issues often feature characters who are traumatised or disturbed. Buffalo Bill in Silence of the Lambs (1991) is an example of this, as he has had a traumatising past therefore becomes a schizophrenic with many different mental health disorders. Anyone can be affected by mental health issues as it is a prevalent issue in society.
Love Liza (2002), Inside Out (2015) and The Skeleton Twins (2014) highlight that mental health issues can affect anyone. Love Liza depicts a grieving widower and Inside Out shows a young girl deal with issues of growing up. Nothing Seeking help is disturbing happens to the two acceptable - TRUE lead characters in The Skeleton Good Will Hunting (1997) Twins, but they both suffer illustrates that it’s acceptable with depression and suicidal to seek help. Therapists are thoughts. There is no big grand often shown in cinema as reveal that they had been selfish people who are only abused, just two normal adults helping for their own self-gain. dissatisfied and struggling with Mental institutions are depicted everyday life. These films help as prisons that are violent and to dispel the myth that people dangerous. Good Will Hunting suffering with their mental highlights that therapy can health are obviously disturbed. help even the proudest people and there is no shame in
I think mental health in films has changed radically over the past decade. The remake of Halloween (2007) showed Michael Myers more as a troubled child trying to do what he thought was right. Whilst some films still perpetrate some of the damaging myths and stigmas - most films are now trying to be understanding.
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Most recently, Joker (2019) showed a notorious villain as a broken man suffering with his mental health - but despite Joker being more sympathetic towards mental health, it amplifies the stigma and fear that mental illness leads to violence.
Perhaps 2020 will have some more accurate portrayals of mental illness, but we still have a long way to go in film. 9
Written by Charlie Vogelsang Design and illustration by Gayatri Rana
Films and Friends:
How entertainment supports my wellbeing
hen it comes to anyone’s mental health, it is important that as an individual, they use whatever they can that helps them in a way nothing else can.
For some, including myself, this is in terms of entertainment. Whether that’s film, theatre, books, TV, gaming or even theatre, there are so many elements of entertainment that can help someone to cope with anything they are going through. It has been proven that forms of entertainment such as movies encourage emotional release meaning people who potentially have trouble expressing their emotions will end up finding themselves laughing or even crying during a film. It is this sudden release of emotions that later on allows it to become easier for them to express their emotions in a way they might not have before. As a person who has watched a lot of films in my 19 years of life, and still does to this day, I can say that I am content with expressing my feelings. It is watching films, ones from the romantic genre in particular that allows me to escape into my own world and just allow me time for myself without any stress, or anything that is conflicting my feelings which would therefore make me become even more stressed. Personal favourites of mine include Dirty Dancing and
Beauty and the Beast. These two films potentially are not like one another but for some reason, when watching them I am happy because I am watching something I enjoy. In a way, it is watching these movies that helps me to relieve stress because again I am only focused on them. A time when watching movies helped me to relieve stress from my daily life was during my GCSE’s. Exam times for many people are very stressful, so it was during this time that watching films (not all the time, as I did also revise!) whenever there was a time I perhaps was getting flustered from all the revision, I would take a break, watch a film and it would later help me regain my focus so I didn’t later burn out and therefore let my revision go to waste.
somehow managed to watch the entire series through five times (don’t judge me). From the beginning of every episode, the upbeat theme music brings me joy, and it has been proven in a study that when watching Friends, people who suffer from anxious thoughts start to calm down. At times, I have experienced some sort of anxiety as I am an overthinker and worry about the smallest of things, but when watching Friends this seems to go away which makes this study right. If anyone is ever experiencing stress in their life and it is affecting your wellbeing, then you should find what helps you relieve this stress easiest and calm yourself down. Whether that is any form of entertainment, maybe watching films or TV series just like I have, anything that makes you happy as coping with your wellbeing, especially at university is most important for you to enjoy the best three years of your life.
Last year, during my A-Level exams, my dad unfortunately went into hospital which proved very stressful for all my family. Watching films during this time was my form of escapism and therefore meant I By Katie Green could cope with what was going on in my life at the time. Not only has watching films helped me out in the past but watching a TV series has allowed me to be immersed in something ongoing and again escape from the stresses of my life. Specifically watching the evergreen 90s hit Friends - even though there are 10 seasons, I have still
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Illustration by Aamina Mahmood
Is the spotlight on mental illness leaving some in the shadows? Written by Katie Ansell
he rise of the digital age has come hand in hand with the rise of self expression. Never before in history have people had the ability to self-publish their thoughts and opinions to millions, instantly and constantly. This means people can shine the spotlight wherever they want, and bring attention to whatever they want, and that’s led to a huge spike in the discussion around mental health. While this is obviously a great thing, it’s difficult not to notice that the narrative of almost all mental health campaigns, major news stories and viral twitter threads focus on one of two things: anxiety and depression. And listen, I’m not complaining about this. It’s amazing to see so many people discussing two of the most common mental health issues in the world. Almost half the population will experience a mental health issue in their lifetime. 10% will experience an anxiety disorder, and 15% will experience depression. It’s such a worthy topic to be brought to public attention, and to campaign
“Be better, and the world will follow.” about. There have been countless campaigns about male depression, postpartum depression, anxiety in young people and the workplace. But where are the campaigns for everything else? While anxiety and depression are considered to be the most ‘common’ mental health issues, there are countless others than continue to be stigmatised, misunderstood and
Your Say We asked some Trent students for their opinions. Here’s what they had to say:
It’s sick that there’s been so much discussion about depression and anxiety in the past few years and that people are finally talking about it like it’s normal, but I wish the same went for other common ones like bipolar and PTSD. Anxiety and depression aren’t the only things that people deal with.” Amy Whitton, 22
shamed. OCD, bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder affect hundreds of thousands of people in the UK, but it’s rare to see quality informative content about them in the media. Think for me for a minute. When was the last time you saw educational posters in a train station, or a bus stop, or a doctors office, about supporting your friends with depression? Ok, now think about the last time you saw the same kind of poster for OCD, or ADHD, or PTSD? Have you ever? I don’t think I have. Bar the odd leaflet getting lost amongst hundreds of others, I don’t think I’ve ever seen readily available and promoted information about them. Everything I know, I’ve sought out myself. As with everything else on the internet, all the information is right there, but why should we have to take the initiative to seek it out ourselves? Often the people who need the information the most are the people who won’t actively search for support. We should be making more of an effort to discuss
a wide variety of mental health issues in the media, in school, in workplaces. It’s a beautiful thing to see the world start to accept and openly discuss any form of mental health issue after centuries of stigma, but we should be striving to push it further. We should always be pushing to be better people, more accepting people, more educated people. So until the media catches up, do it yourself. Make an effort to educate yourself on mental health issues that you might have an unconscious bias against, or that you just don’t know anything about. Be better, and the world will follow. “Even though it’s obviously annoying that people don’t really talk about other mental illnesses, I think we all need to be grateful that any are being discussed at all. Change always has to start with baby steps, so getting so much attention for anxiety and depression and starting all these conversations can only be a good thing.” Beth Charan, 24
“I think it’s really cool that people are starting to open up about their mental illnesses, but I think it’s also opened the world up to the possibility of people trivialising them and using words like ‘anxiety’ and ‘depressed’ when they’re not, and taking attention away from people who actually need support and attention. It’s difficult to find that balance, but hopefully as people get educated more it’ll improve.” Tom Willoughby
Fashion And Beauty
Social Media’s Impact On Beauty Standards One Sunday afternoon, I was on the bus going to meet up my friends at the cinema to see a movie my friends had been talking about for weeks. As I put my earphones in to tune into my favourite playlist, the bus came to a halt a few cars behind a traffic light. Just as I opened Instagram, my eyes landed on a picture of a model plastered across the screen. It was a perfume advertisement for Dior in which a beautiful, shimmering woman emerged from a lake of gold. She had jet black hair, slick with water and she stared at me with deep set eyes. The words Goddess Rising were written in big, bold letters in the black sky behind her. She looked like she was made of something ethereal, like she didn’t belong to this world.
She was absolutely beautiful, with smooth, radiant skin and a slim body that many women would love to have. She was desire personified.
The person I wish I could be, the idealised version of myself is too perfect, and perfection is a myth. I realise the person I kept wishing to be all these years; beautiful, tall, radiant - was what society and social media had nailed into me. I’ve changed my mind, the person I wish I could be isn’t perfect or radiant, because beauty can only take you so far. The person I wish I could be is happy. Happy and comfortable in her own skin. So next time you’re scrolling through instagram and you see an image of ‘perfection,’ don’t let it break you. Unlike perfection, happiness is not a myth. It’s looking up at the night sky and understanding that you are part of something greater than yourself. It’s real and attainable and the only thing I want because ultimately, all that glitters is not gold.
The lights turned green, the bus lurched forward and continued down the road. But I couldn’t get the woman out of my head for the rest of the day and it made me think about the person I wish I could be. You see, I have this idea of myself, this idealized form, a version 2.0. Do you know what she’s like? She’s taller. Her complexion is clear, blemish free. Her hair falls down to her elbows in glossy waves. Her teeth are white and straight, her smile is award-winning. I envy her to the point that my vision is clouded and I want nothing more than to destroy myself to become like her. I compare her to the woman I saw on Instagram, and I understand that neither are real.
Written by: Ishita Sharma Illustrations by: Karima Morsli
USING MAKEUP TO
E M P OW E R Makeup is a powerful tool. It can make you feel like a glam goddess and give you a badass boost of confidence to take on the day. Over the last decade or so, makeup and mental health haven’t worked together side by side. Arguably, with beauty standards and pressures on social media and the catwalk being more prominent, it is more important than ever to remind ourselves that we don’t have to buy into this commercialised package of beauty.
Sometimes this is easier said than done. We all have insecurities and it is difficult to not label them as ‘flaws’. Whilst makeup is great and you can contour to the high heavens, it’s super important to be comfortable in our skin and not be reliant on makeup to feel good about ourselves. If anything we should remember
WRITTEN BY: Shannon Mountford
makeup is enhancing our natural beauty not creating it. A common misconception in the past has been that makeup is all about a massive cover-up. For me, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Whilst many people have turned to cosmetics because they feel they have to, many others use makeup for joy and creativity. As someone who has experienced bad mental health for many years, my beauty ritual has become a great medium to refocus and show myself some compassion. Whilst I don’t wear a full beat face of glam makeup every day, putting a bit on, on a bad day, really helps to focus my thoughts and feel more put together. It is important to tackle this cover-up misconception. Many beauty gurus have jumped on the bandwagon of tackling the stigma. Back in
FASHION AND BEAUTY 2015, YouTuber NikkiTutorials started The Power of Makeup campaign, in which she only painted half her face. This movement is still a big trend on social media and shows men and women that there is no shame in where you lie on the makeup spectrum and that you can be confident with or without makeup. So no, makeup isn’t necessarily about covering up something. It’s sometimes about distracting your chaotic thoughts and taking time to make your brows look like sisters and blending your foundation with a damp beauty blender. According to psychologists and researchers, the act of putting on makeup has positive effects on a person’s mental health. Psychotherapist Jonathan Alpert explained in a Yahoo article that this meditative act can lower stress levels, reduce anxiety, and promote a calmer, happier mindset. As well as this, a Harvard study has recently shown wearing makeup has been proven to have “a positive effect on self-esteem, attitude, and personality.” This is known as the ‘lipstick effect’. Importantly, it is more about the process and giving yourself a second, rather than the final look. Of course, makeup wearers shouldn’t
rely on makeup to pick us up when we are in a downward mental spiral. It is important to find true happiness in yourself; whether that means wearing a full face of glam every day or going au naturel, finding comfort in just being ‘you’ is incomparable. It is without a doubt that makeup and mental health have a connection, but I think it’s important to break the stigma that it is always a negative one. It’s important to differentiate between using makeup as a ‘mask’ rather than an ‘accessory’. Rather than using terms such as ‘too-much’ or ‘not enough,’ we should be empowering those who wear makeup to make their own rules. This type of makeup shaming is more damaging than anything, and we should be compelling women and men to see applying some makeup as a small accomplishment when the world is on their shoulders. By no means do I think that makeup is either a long-term coping mechanism or a solution to solving any mental health issues. But small acts of self-care, like putting on some makeup, can help you feel a little bit more like your ‘normal’ self. It is all about finding your peace in the chaos.
ILLUSTRATED BY: Holly Aldridge-Ball
What is body positivity?
Being body positive is the acceptance of the body you have, along with the acceptance of the changes in shape and size you will endure as your life progresses. Whatever your age, race, gender, many of you reading this will have experienced struggles with remaining body positive. The way a person (particularly the younger generation) perceives themselves is often influenced by the media, idealising petite women and muscular men. A survey by The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery found that more than 40% of women and 20% of men admitted to considering cosmetic surgery – this remaining relatively constant across gender, ages and race.
Step by step guide to becoming
Celebrate your body for being unique, healthy and for carrying you through life!
Encountering stress, depression and anxiety during the course of university isn’t unusual. This means a student’s mental health should be of the utmost importance to the university. Many, if not all universities in the UK offer support services to those facing issues such as body image and feeling negatively about their appearance. Body image is a problem that is often disregarded, despite the fact that 50% of women use unhealthy behaviours to control their weight and 37% of men experience binge eating depression, according to figures from The Body Image Center. The University of Durham have a society dedicated to ‘Spreading self-love’. It aims to challenge beauty ideals, promote realness and combat negative body image. Nottingham Trent University offer an Online Support service – SilverCloud, for students feeling anxious, stressed or struggling with body image or eating. For urgent support, contact NHS Urgent Care Centre or call 999.
Tips for becoming body positive: -Recognise that we all come in different shapes and sizes, the media portrays unrealistic images of what we ‘should’ look like and we see them every day. But the reality of it is, they are not real either, what you are admiring has probably been edited. -Meditate! Meditation has been proven to help with mental struggles such as this. Download an app e.g. Calm or Simple Habit and try it for a few minutes a day. -Speak to the people around you: friends, family, colleagues, lecturers. You are definitely not alone. -Beauty is within, remain optimistic and respectful. Dedicated and passionate. Be the best version of yourself and with this you will realise that looks are irrelevant. -Don’t focus on the size of your body, focus on how healthy your body is.
Writen by Emily Braeger Designed by Meg Chadderton
TRAVEL & LIFESTYLE
and take care of your mental health Everybody can get stressed sometimes - it’s a normal part of life. But don’t let it go too far and take good care of your mental health. Don’t think that just because it’s not seen, it’s less harmful or serious. Student life can be quite hectic. Especially at the time when deadlines and exams are knocking on the doors. At the university, you are the one who’s responsible for your health, but that doesn’t mean you have to deal with it alone. NTU Student Health Development Officer, Paul Dodsley says that the best thing you can do for your mental health is to socialise. “Get yourself out there and you’ll find that most of the students are in the same boat, so link up with other students as well,” adds Dodsley. However, there are days when you don’t really feel like talking and that’s fine too. There are plenty of other options that you can do on your own as well. Listening to Podcasts You’ve surely heard of podcasts, right? Well, apart from comedy, educational and news podcasts, there are also mindfulness podcasts that help you to relax and take a bit of a break. The good news is that you don’t have to be a Spotify or Apple Podcasts subscriber - there’s a set of various podcasts right on the NTU website. Just type “podcasts” into the search box at ntu.ac.uk and you can choose from more than 10 podcasts that you can download and listen to them on your laptop or phone. They also vary in length so just pick the one that suits you the most. Get Active Few things help to unwind more than a good amount of physical activity. You don’t have to be Usain Bolt or Serena Williams and you don’t have to break records - this isn’t about competition, but about clearing your head and occupying it with lighter thoughts. You can go to the gym and run on a treadmill, or you can join a class that the NTU gym offers. Why don’t you try yoga? There’s plenty of proof online that it has a positive impact on your mental health. By the way, did you know that NTU does free yoga classes during the exam period? They’ve got your back.
Look After Your Mate Training You can book for this free training online via the university website. It shows students how to look after their friends as well as your own mental health. You can come alone or take your friends with you and go through it together. It is also a great opportunity to meet new people and make new friends, so why not give it a go? Jimmy Chipolata Haven’t you heard about Jimmy yet? This little doggy fellow is NTU exclusive. He’s a former rescue dog and loves cheese. Students once asked to use him for an event and it went down so well that Jimmy became a sort of part-time member of the Wellbeing team as well. You cannot see him at the campus very often but he does attend some of the wellbeing events during the year - so, keep an eye on his Instagram account (of course, he has one). Meanwhile, you can visit farm animals at the Brackenhurst Campus. It’s a bit far away for some, but with fresh air and animals, it’s the ultimate combination for boosting your mental health. These are just some options for what you can do to improve your mental health. We all know that sometimes, it may feel like there are too many things going on and that there is no room for anything else but studying. When you spot these thoughts take a deep breath and stop for a minute. Allow yourself to close the book and go out into the fresh air, watch a movie, go to the gym, go for a walk, anything that helps you unwind a bit and change the focus of your mind to something different than studying. Your studies are important but so is your university experience, so make the most of it. Written by Radka Feichtingerová Illustrated by Sophie Puffett
Why travelling is good for mental health
Nothing quite beats the experience of seeing a place for the first time or returning to a favorite one. People of all ages, from all around the world, go to foreign places for different reasons, such as to get away from the mundane routine of life for a little while. It’s no news that travel is good for you physical wellbeing, but it does wonders for your mental health too.
You fall back in love with life and become more grateful
If this doesn’t validate your can’tafford-but-boughtanyway tickets, then what does?
them may be outside your comfort zone? That’s what traveling does - it pushes you to be adventurous, to live life to the fullest, to make the most of this precious gift and use the time they have to discover new things, and meet new people. This is similar to what people experience when reading a fictional story. They get to become whoever they are reading about, just like when traveling, they get to become the citizens of the country they are visiting, even if it is only for a short time.
It helps you become more creative and allows you to look at things with a different perspective
It helps manage stress and negative emotions
Being on a vacation for a substantial amount of time opens your mind and gives you exposure to different stimuli, all of which increase your cognitive flexibility. And the more cognitively flexible you are, the more creative you will be.
Taking a trip makes you happier
And it’s not just because you don’t have to study/work and can have ice cream for breakfast. When you think about an experience like a vacation before it happens, it makes you happier than if you’re waiting for something tactile, such as a new t-shirt. Think about it, if you were stuck waiting in a line, wouldn’t you be happier if that was a line for a concert than for grocery shopping?
It helps you build and strengthen relationships It is much easier to approach strangers in a new environment, mainly because there are so many things to talk about. Be it with locals or in a tour group, engaging with other people can lead to meaningful friendships. And if you’re traveling with people, it can help strengthen the bond you already have.
*books next trip immediately *
You know how you seem to want to do everything on a trip, even though some of
Plane rides, walking through the streets of a new city or somewhere in the suburbs - all of these activities relax you, help you find personal time without any of the back-home obligations. It also makes us more grateful and humble in life. I mean, how could you not be in awe of the world when you’re standing in front of the Niagara Falls in Canada?
It makes you more patient and helps you better control your life. Planning for a trip may seem daunting at first, but it has its benefits. Overcoming challenges outside your comfort zone helps you build resilience, gain confidence and better coping skills. Also, remember that never ending line for security check, the way you had to walk through practically the whole airport just to get a better Wi-Fi signal? All of it helps build your character and makes you more patient in the long run.
Written by Ishita Sharma Designed and illustrated by Meg Chadderton
TRAVEL AND LIFESTYLE
Written by Ishita Sharma
Designed by Meg Chadderton
Supporting Friends and Loved Ones with their Mental Health Even though mental health and mental illness is Friends a progressively common topic of conversation, in the case of a loved one or a friend who is suspected to have a mental illness or has a new diagnosis, it may be hard to know where to start. We know how hard it is to open up and admit that there is something wrong, and it can be even harder to do this when you are close to the person who needs some help and guidance. The small things can help your loved one or friend who is struggling in ways that you can’t imagine. Below are some ways to help and guide whatever it is that they may be finding difficult.
Your friend might come to you in a time of need, when this happens the best thing that you can do is listen and as soon as they are finished talking, try to be supportive and tell them it’s okay and that you are there for them. When someone is in distress, that one friend could be the reason that they keep going just the same as if it were a loved one. Just because someone may have a mental health condition, it doesn’t mean that they can’t have a laugh. In the same way, if a friend starts to withdraw from you, try not to feel offended and instead try to understand what they are going through.
Don’t promise things that you may not be able to do - ask those questions if they are comfortable with it and if not change the subject! Loved ones This can be harder to understand just by the fact that you are even closer to someone than you would be with a friendship. Try to separate the person from the illness - if someone breaks their leg that does not affect who they are as a person, it can be hard to do this as their illness is not always physical. Try to educate yourself about their condition as much as you can, you need to understand what they are dealing with first and acquire a better perspective.
TRAVEL AND LIFESTYLE
Take care of yourself While their mental health is important, so is yours! Trying to look after someone will place strain and stress onto you - you are not a mental health professional and there is a limit to which you will reach. Exercise is always a great way to reflect and take a step back, but also talking with family can help you obtain another perspective. Written by Abi Trunk Designed by Sophie Puffet
Support them to get help You can’t force anyone if they do not want help, but reassure them that it is okay to ask for help and that they will not be judged. Maybe offer to go with them if you think that will be good reassurance. It does not have to just be about getting tablets - there are other services where you can talk to a therapist or have CBT to help with having positive thoughts instead of negative ones. Be open By being open, the person involved may be open back, talking about emotions are hard, sympathise with how they are feeling and tell them how much you care about them and want to hear what they have to say. Keep in touch Send them a text whenever you can to let them know that you are thinking of them. This can make a big difference for them as they will begin to realise that someone does care. This is even more important when someone has become withdrawn and doesn’t want to see anyone - a little text or call can go a long way. Don’t judge If you haven’t experienced a mental health condition such as depression or anxiety, it can be hard to wrap your head around and you may be thinking why they can’t just snap out of it. Research online instead of jumping to conclusions and try not to place blame or pressure onto them, as it is an ongoing battle that cannot be fixed overnight - you are going to need patience in order to help them. Support them in their road to recovery and take an interest in their treatment plan, whilst encouraging them to keep on course with their treatment. Most importantly, always tell them how proud you are of them for seeking help.
I DON’T (SELF) CARE
Every time I have the gall to feel dissatisfaction At the cataclysmic pass rate I’ve achieved That familiar advice pops into my inbox The one that implies confidence is elixir That unlocks all your wildest dreams and reels them in And makes all forms of loneliness redundant Of course, there’s a little summant in that But I’ve been stargazing over the past few nights, and I wonder… Is it so bad that it gets a little exhausting at times? I know, lift your head high and all that Take it from me: I’ve mastered the art Of a love so selfish; Narcissus would blush But it’s still a blow to your entire life When your baby grimaces at your whole being Cos it’s not the isolation that stings That’s a wound well and truly self-inflicted I’m not broken up about breaking up either It’s the idea I’ve gone diving with the sharks again And for the all the gashes and cuts, I’ve come up cheap It’s that feeling that years of love won’t protect you From your special one treating you like chewing gum Just something to be spat out, when the flavour is unfamiliar They’ll listen to enough whispers in the grapevine Start to see your low maintenance in incredible highs Start to tickle your guilt: For the unforgivable sin of being No matter the years of memories and affection we’ve built It can all come undone in a matter of minutes Cos my autisticness starts to become noticeable Cos after a bad day, my disorders are too intense “Why can’t you perform these ultimately inconsequential Social acts exactly the same as everyone else?” That’s an easy one: Cos no one’s cared before you, honey
That’s the part that really starts to sting You can make yourself better if you’re an arsehole You can spruce yourself up if you’ve gotten in a rut But how does one feasibly address a review like that? Time and time again romance only serves to prove You’re only good for a temporary pit stop A source of thrill and spills, before it’s back to work Cos no one like you is forever
So, my god, how I got self love in abundance I got time for a staring contest with my reflection I gotta reserve so much love from myself Cos there’s no chance I’m getting any from my lovers I daydream of the day that love comes with no drama With someone who doesn’t wince at my neurology Is it really an exercise in the art of surrender To admit it leaves you tired every now and then? Leaves you feeling an extra stone or two? And after the fact, the idea of swimming for the social climate Just to find another lover who leaves with a gag After their vision starts to focus on who you really are? Oh, it just leaves me feeling a little tired is all Makes me wanna take the summer off And catch up on all the sleep I’ve missed out on But, of course, that just delays the issue So, tell me how hard do I have to love myself? Until someone sees that summant in me that I see And how many people do I have to let down before I get there?
By Sebastian Noël
Designed By Holly Aldridge-Ball
THE “UNCOOL” THE “UNCOOL” BOYBAND FANDOMS FANDOMS BOYBAND
AND HOW HOW THEY THEY BENEFIT BENEFIT MENTAL MENTAL HEALTH HEALTH AND “Teenage-girl fans – they don’t lie. If they like you, they’re there. They don’t act “too cool”. They like you and they tell you which is sick,” Harry Styles said back in April 2017, causing hearts to flutter for many fans across the world.
Harry’s right – being a teenage girl and a fan of boy bands such as One Direction, The Jonas Brothers or BTS is seen as decidedly uncool, but that doesn’t stop me, or millions of others, from loving them beyond our teenage years. Though the “fangirl” label is often thrown around as an insult and can isolate the bearer from the rest of society, the fandom itself, no matter how uncool, can be a light in the dark, a safe space and a lifesaver for the individual. Fanatic female behaviour has been around for centuries. Back in the mid-1800s, women grew increasingly attached to composer Franz Liszt. So much so that Heinrich Heine created the term ‘Lisztomania’ to describe the passionate reaction women were exhibiting in connection to the composer. Their behaviours included grabbing at Liszt and collecting cameos and brooches that bore his likeness – merchandise before merchandise existed.
This phenomenon has continued throughout history and, with the invention of the radio, the television and the internet, it has grown exponentially. Beatlemania evoked similar reactions in the 60s and saw many regard the fans as unusual and possibly unstable, as Paul Johnson speculated in the New Statesman in 1964: “Those who flock round the Beatles, who scream themselves into hysteria whose vacant faces flicker over the TV screen, are the least fortunate of their generation, the dull, the idle, the failures.” In the 21st Century, we have One Direction, The Jonas Brothers, 5 Seconds of Summer and K-pop boy bands taking the forefront, with millions of girls following them claiming that their chosen group has saved their lives. But did they really save their lives or is that statement just hyperbolic delusion? Obsession is often associated with depression and suggests an avoidance of other things which means that people with low self-esteem and mental health problems may be particularly susceptible to becoming obsessed with a musician and, therefore, wrapped up in the fandom.
MUSIC Speaking to Teen Vogue, psychologist and professor of psychology at Columbia University commented that “belonging to a fandom helps adolescents connect to other like-minded youths on social media throughout the year, as well as at concert events. Feeling like you are part of a group can help one define his/her identity and give a sense of purpose to what might be an otherwise routine lifestyle”. The social connection within these fandoms creates a sense of community that can benefit people with mental health issues, as well as prevent physical health problems such as heart disease. Leyla Demirel, 22, a student who is a musical theatre fanatic said: “When you meet people with the same music interests as you, you immediately have something in common with them and there is a sense of belonging. You can spend time with these people guilt free and just enjoy it, without the concerns of life or mental health looming over you.” The global reach of the internet can also help people seeking comfort in fandoms. “When all your other friends are asleep at 2am, you can guarantee someone somewhere in the world in your fandom will be awake and happy to talk”, Leyla added. Social media is a bustling hub of fandoms these days and, though it facilitates trolls and fights between fandoms, it can also present the opportunity for
bonding within fandoms. Directioners on Twitter peaked after they trended #WhatMakesHerBeautiful alongside selfies. The tweeters were flooded with compliments and supportive messages that boosted their self-esteem. The communities on these platforms bring together like-minded people, particularly for artists with emotional lyrics like 5SOS who’ve written about divorce and mental health. It’s very likely that impressionable young people are finding comfort and solace in these groups and the fandom surrounding them. With apps like V-live, the frequency of comebacks and artists profiles on Twitter, K-pop fans are constantly provided with content that allows them to escape reality and ignore real-life issues. “I feel like K-pop has helped with the everyday aspect of mental health because the music and culture helps boost my mood and I feel listening to songs can really help if I’m feeling low,” Kristine Phillips, 24, who volunteers for Cruse, a bereavement charity, said. Music triggers a release of dopamine which makes you happy and has been proven to improve peoples’ mental health. It is understandable that participating in the fandoms surrounding the artists can also help people, in more ways than one, and could potentially save someone’s life.
I can confidently say that they saved mine.
WRITTEN BY: Helen Rodgers
DESIGNED BY: Holly Aldridge-Ball
The Role of Music in Mental Health Matters. “Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness.”
Music has always been something safe for people to get lost in, as Maya Angelou says above. Music has turned into more than just something you play in the background, but rather moved into the forefront as a tool to not only address mental health issues, but to cope with them as well. Over the past few decades the discourse on mental health and how it affects individuals has opened up completely, and our understanding of things like depression or anxiety has increased to the point where we have ways to help. There’s still a long way to go, particularly in battling the stigma around mental health issues in society, but music even helps to break down those barriers too. So many people in this day and age use music as a coping mechanism, something to help them get through hard times, or even just get through the day. Music has always had a role in people’s wellbeing, going back hundreds of years. Songs often have a knack of speaking to us emotionally; whether that’s making us cry, boosting us up or justpassing the time. Soothing tempos and melodies often help calm you down and then motivational lyrics and big beats bring you up when you need it. Music provides a wonderful world you can get lost in, as well as something to hold onto when times are tough. It can also trigger specific emotions and memories, like songs that
remind you of your relationship or even your favourite football team. There are a lot of scientific studies and research to back this up too, proving it’s not just something people say. One such study has found that listening to music releases dopamine (the feel-good chemical) in the brain, especially when you’re listening to music that you like. Another found that music can help reduce anxiety and stress levels by up to 65%. There is even research to suggest that music can have a physical impact as well as a mental one, with studies showing it slows heart rate and lowers blood pressure – in turn, having a mental effect and helping to reduce stress. This shows that music actually makes a difference, and it may be something you want to try out next time you’re feeling stressed or anxious. Spotify and other music platforms have a lot of “mood” playlists, as well as a lot of chill music mixes ready to press play on YouTube. Despite music being such a great tool for mental health, many of the people who make music often suffer from mental health problems themselves. There is a lot of pressure and toxicity in the industry, with it being incredibly competitive and difficult to achieve success. Artists, both mainstream and the more obscure, frequently speak out about their own issues, with a 2019 study showing that up to 80% of musicians suffer from stress, anxiety or depression. The life of a musician is often one contrary to the norm; lots of late nights, travelling and touring away from family and
friends, as well as home and a sense of stability. They often receive a lot of critique and negative comments; from critics as well as online trolls, and the need to maintain a public image leads to a melting pot of negativity that makes musicians and those in the industry likely to have some kind of mental health problem. While playing and creating music can be seen as a therapy, sometimes the act of writing a song isn’t enough for those wrapped up in bad feelings. An example of this can be seen in Ariana Grande, who has often been very vocal about her struggles, and has even publicly taken a break from music to focus on her mental health. Though she has said that she has been in therapy for over a decade, in the last few years she has had to face several traumatic events, being the death of her ex-boyfriend as well as the Manchester Arena terrorist attack that happened at one of her concerts in 2017. Speaking of the latter, Grande talked specifically about the physical symptoms she experienced due to the PTSD of the event, telling Elle she had “really wild dizzy spells, this feeling like I couldn’t breathe.” Grande even uses her mental health as inspiration for her songs. Get Well Soon was influenced by the state of her anxiety in the aftermath of the Manchester attack, and she offers it as a “musical hug” to those going through difficult times. Similarly, her song Breathin’ was also inspired by anxiety and “feeling like you can’t get a full breath” during panic attacks. Zayn Malik is another celebrity who has spoken about his
anxiety, posting on Instagram in 2016 after having to cancel a performance due to his anxiety. Though suffering seriously from anxiety in the past – saying his mum had to drag him out of bed for his X-Factor audition – he told fans that the event caused him to have the worst anxiety of his career. Malik has always been very vocal about his anxiety, wanting to be transparent to his fans about the reasons behind cancelling performances. Saying “Anxiety is nothing to be ashamed of.” The Little Mix singer Jesy Nelson has also spoken publicly about her struggles with her documentary “Odd One Out” released earlier this year. In this documentary she talks very candidly about the cruel treatment she received via online trolls after appearing on X Factor in 2011, highlighting a slightly different way artists can have mental health issues from being in the spotlight. The hate she received “chipped away at her self-esteem”, leading to depression, eating disorders and eventually a suicide attempt. The cyber bullying she has experienced and the effects that have been a long road for Nelson, but she has since said she feels “a lot mentally stronger and happier”, and is using her platform to help spread awareness of mental health issues and how social media can affect people. These are only some examples of artists who struggle with mental health, and/or take inspiration from it. Demi Lovato, Matty Healy, Lady Gaga, Nicki Minaj, and so many others have all suffered and been vocal about their struggles. There’s an outdated idea that to be successful, one has to suffer for their art, which is of course a very damaging idea that is pretty much wrong, “there is no link between creativity and mental illness” says Dr
R. Keith Sawyer”). Thankfully, many artists and individuals are challenging this, and are becoming more and more vocal with their struggles, opening up a discourse and helping to remove the stigma around mental health, changing things for the better. Speaking on a more personal note, I myself often use music as a coping mechanism for my anxiety. While I don’t suffer as much or as badly as I used to when I comes to my mental health, music was and still is a great outlet and tool that allows me to cope and process my emotions. When I am having a particularly bad mental health day, I find the way that works best for me to get out of it is to let myself feel the emotions. If I’m sad, I let myself be sad. If I’m angry, I let myself be angry. For me, repressing emotions just doesn’t work, and if I try to hold things in to appear “normal”, I find I just feel worse for longer. To feel these emotions, I find music to be incredibly helpful. Ever listened to sad love songs after a breakup? It’s kind of the same thing. Allowing myself to experience the emotions I have inside me makes it easier to get out of that mood, and listening to that kind of music helps me process quicker, feel quicker and ultimately feel better quicker, even if it does sound a bit contradictory to let myself wallow in misery for a bit. Another way I have used music to feel better is singing. I am a big musical theatre fan, but in general I’ve been singing for my whole life, in choirs or on my own, and there is nothing more cathartic to me than screaming out a song whenever I feel a little bit down. Honestly, be it in the shower, doing the washing up, or even waiting for the tram, I’m almost always singing and I find nothing better than a quick karaoke session to quell
the blues. I even have science to back this up, as studies have shown singing causes your brain to release endorphins which lowers stress and anxiety levels, giving you a positive feeling and an energy boost.
Music is a wonderful thing. I’m sure so many people, including myself, would struggle to go on with their daily life without their own personal playlist in the background. Without music, the world would be just a little darker, and we’re lucky to have such a great thing in such a way that there is something for everyone to enjoy.
“Music speaks when words fail” and for a lot of people trying to deal with their own mental health, truer words could never be spoken”.
Written by Polly Jean Harrison Design and illustration by Gayatri Rana
The Importance of LGBTQ+ Representation in Music Written by Robbie Nicholls
“Seeing someone who looks like you, behaves like you, or loves the same people as you, is so important.”
These days, you’d struggle to find someone who would argue against true representation of minority groups in films, television, and books. People question unfair casting decisions regularly these days on social media – take, for example, Scarlett Johansson. When she was cast as the lead role in Ghost in the Shell, a character who was originally meant to be a Japanese girl, the film received heavy criticism for white-washing a role that easily could have been used to accurately represent a specific culture. Accurate representation is essential in entertainment media. Whether it is intentional or not, such media teaches people about minorities, or other ethnicities. This cannot be ignored as stereotypical representations lead to inaccurate and offensive presumptions being taught to young people. Black Panther was hailed as a success, because of its not
only accurate, but developed representation. Former First Lady Michelle congratulated the film for allowing young people to “finally see superheroes that look like them on the big screen”. The importance of this cannot be ignored.
A report published by LGBTQ+ community Stonewall in 2018 found that 52% of LGBT people have experienced depression in the last year, with one in eight LGBT people aged between 18 and 24 saying they’d attempted to take their own life in the same period.
One community, of many, that is still fighting for accurate representation is the LGBTQ+ community; and with 20% of people aged between 18 and 34 now identifying as LGBTQ+, this fight is more important than ever. Seeing someone who looks like you, behaves like you, or loves the same people as you, is so important. It shows people that they are not alone, that others have been through what they’re going through and have come out the other side stronger. For this reason, representation is essential in helping reduce the mental health epidemic that has consumed the LGBTQ+ community.
Representation of the LGBTQ+ community is crucial in creating dialogues about issues that all members of the community face, especially for those who may feel as though they are alone in their struggle. With these issues more visible in the public discourse, it can encourage people to seek the help they need to identify their problems. Seeing it in films and on television is not the only way forward in the fight for accurate, and lifesaving representation, however. It has long been acknowledged that listening to music can help with your mental health, with it aiding in the release
“An anthem for those that felt shunned for simply being who they were.” of dopamine. Thankfully, representation is more accessible in the music industry. Due to its more personal nature and the accessibility of music through streaming platforms such as Spotify and YouTube, LGBTQ+ artists are able to reach an audience that can identify with their music without the need of mainstream appeal to get airtime on the radio. LGBTQ+ artists, such as Hayley Kiyoko, Troye Sivan, and Todrick Hall, have managed to gain an audience through pure authenticity and storytelling. Their relatable artistry gives those who are seeking a safe space an artist who they can relate to, someone who makes them feel seen. The artist themselves can become someone that resonates with the fan, not only because of what they are singing about, but because of their identity. Nothing is as valuable as knowing someone understands how you identify, and I say that from personal experience. Not only this, music that celebrates queerness and
Designed by Meg Atkinson
everything it stands for can become a lifeline for some. It can be an escape from a situation of exclusivity, and provide a place to express themselves, even if through someone else’s words. Again, it comes from a place of being seen. I’m sure everyone has had that moment where a song can describe how they’re feeling if they didn’t even know how to put it into words. That’s a feeling artists of LGBTQ+ music can create with a single song – a feeling of being understood, and that’s invaluable. When tackling your own mental health, being understood by those around
you is vital in finding the support you need; and music created by LGBTQ+ artists provides this for those in the community that do not feel they have that in their lives. Take “I Am Her” by black trans woman Shea Diamond. Already dubbed as a transgender anthem, Shea describes the song as her anthem to a world that said she shouldn’t exist. It was written as “an anthem for those that felt shunned for simple being who they were.” This exposure of a black, trans woman is invaluable, and it’s just one example of people from the LGBTQ+ community being understood in the music industry.
Fighting mental health in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu After being appointed the Social & Wellbeing officer for Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, Tom Beckett wants to do things differently as he aims to make drastic changes to increase support and awareness for mental health sufferers in his society. As soon as Tom walks into the room there’s a great warmth to his personality. It’s easy to imagine that anyone needing his help would know they’ve found someone they can trust. But why does this 25-year-old, studying in his third year, want to take on a role that demands so much responsibility, especially during the most crucial year of his university life? Tom smiles. “There have been social and wellbeing officers before me, but I think their main aim was just to get everyone out and drunk.
“There were certain things within the club that I didn’t agree with, such as initiations, but I’m glad that the university has stepped in and told clubs if there are initiations then the club will be banned, which is great because that’s not what BJJ is about. At BJJ we feel like a family, so when we have new members we’ll make sure that everyone knows we’re there for them and if anyone is having issues, whether that’s in the club, on their course or just in their personal life, we’re all going to be there for each other.” It was refreshing to hear a committee member have such strong views about the welfare of his members, that initiations are outdated and insensitive, and that the uni was fighting this tradition. “I feel I have a responsibility to be there for our members, so in class, I’ll look for people who maybe aren’t attending classes regularly when they had been before and then it’s just about checking up on them and making sure they’re okay. After class, I’ll message them or politely ask if they want a chat in private. “I like to draw from my own experiences, and I choose to speak to people in the way I would want to be spoken to myself. I think that’s a benefit of being an older student as I have more life experience to draw from than maybe your average student so this allows me to take a step back and check everyone’s okay, which was lacking in my society before.” “Before I started Jiu-jitsu I just felt like an empty shell, I didn’t like anything about myself and I didn’t think I was worthy or deserving of anything.
“I got to uni and just thought I’d got lucky and I found it really hard to be happy with myself. It was a shock that Tom, who now seemingly oozes confidence, was this badly affected by mental. health issues. It highlights the importance of talking to your friends as you just never know what might be going on in their head. “I struggled for a time with my weight and I felt depressed and anxiety was starting to creep in as well. Whenever I entered a room and I’d instantly lose my breath as I felt like everyone was staring at me, I just felt terrible in myself. “I played rugby and football before BJJ and I think although the active part of the sport helped my mental health, I was still the outcast in the changing rooms which led to bullying.”
for me as I’d always been worried if people didn’t like me or they just didn’t like me in the same way that I liked them.
“Since joining, all of that stopped and it gave me goals to achieve; in my first competition, I got beaten... badly,” Tom laughs. “But it was fine, I felt fine with that, I felt okay with myself I just looked towards the next competition and thought ‘right, next time I’m at least going to win a medal’, and I did, I won two silvers. “Unlike the other team sports, I mentioned, although you represent your club, it’s not a team reliant sport, so if you have a bad fight or a bad event it’s okay.” Tom’s philosophy that everyone should feel proud of their performance no matter the result is extremely admirable. It surely takes an enormous amount of courage to walk onto the mats and face a fellow competitor.
It was noticeable that Tom still felt somewhat affected by his experiences, but it was inspiring to see him discuss the problems he’s had and how this helps him help others though sport.
“Going forward, I’d like to see the uni set up workshops for students, so they know how to best approach certain circumstances. I think at the moment it’s implied that you should take it on yourself to check if your members are okay.
“Since joining BJJ it’s helped me in so many ways, the only way I can describe how Jiu-jitsu helps me is to look at as though it’s a mental game of chess; it gets you thinking and then the endorphins get going along with the oxytocin - these are known as the ‘happy chemicals’ in your brain and it made me feel good.
“Within the club, I’m looking to organise sober socials, which I know a lot of clubs don’t currently do. It’s important because students who don’t drink don’t have to miss out, which can lead to members feeling isolated.”
“I started losing weight through it which in turn helped with my insecurities so I started feeling happy about the way I looked at myself, which was amazing because I genuinely couldn’t remember the last time I felt truly happy. Sport’s healing qualities are well documented, but it was fascinating to hear that a couple hours of exercise a week can lead to such an improvement in Tom’s anxiety levels. “I mentioned the family aspect earlier, being in BJJ made me feel like I was a part of something, which before had been so difficult
He concluded: “To improve the overall care in university teams for mental health all it would take is for the uni to step in and offer some help as this is a demanding role that requires care.” This was an eye-opening discussion that reveals the great expectations and responsibility hoisted on the shoulders of committee members like Tom. There’s a strong base which has been built by the members themselves but it’s hard to think there are members in other societies who don’t have someone as experienced as Tom and it’s these people who go under the radar. Written by .
Image from Pixabay
Football support: Good or bad for the state of mind
f you’ve got a passion for knowing when and where your favourite club is playing each week and what time each game has changed due to extraordinary TV deals, you’ll be all too familiar with that ecstasy feeling of your team banging in a 94th minute goal to claim a point or more. Or perhaps that dejected mindset you enter after dominating the game throughout just for the opposition player to receive a penalty at the last minute. A quote by Bill Shankly came into my head while writing this; ‘Football is a matter of life and death, except more important’. If someone asked me the question ‘How much do you love football?’, never would the answer of ‘more than life itself’ enter my mind. Do I love football as a hobby, passion and social activity? Yes, but I’d say that if my team loses it does impact my mood for a couple of days afterwards. However, a build-up of frustration is inevitable especially when your team’s getting humiliated every weekend. An issue that has arisen recently is that frustration and accusations about the club, players and especially managers are no longer limited to the people you meet face-to-face in the pub or at work, it now takes place on the internet too. The social media explosion that has taken place over the last few years has given rise to a culture of fans amplifying emotions after their team has
dropped points when a video camera and microphone is put in front of you. While this on its own provides a great source of online entertainment to watch others rant profusely while you laugh and enjoy their irrationality, certain problems have arisen surrounding this. As social media allows everyone to have an opinion and let it be heard, fractious divides can be created within football fan communities, with fans being split apart on opinions of ‘on-pitch’ performances and managerial tactics. One of the biggest divides of the last few years I’ve seen occur at Forest was over Martin O’Neill and whether he’d be able to take the club forward on the pitch. While a club legend, as he was part of the match squad that lifted two European Cups, this did not grant him immunity from online criticism. A fractured community caused multiple players within the club to express their desire for the fanbase to unite before the challenges ahead. Footballers of your team cannot play to their best when there is a divide in any regard. One of the most controversial incidents of the last few weeks in the world of football regarding mental health would be the ‘Granit Xhaka vs the Arsenal fans’ during the Premier League game at the Emirates against Crystal Palace, where Xhaka responds to the chorus of booing during his tactical substitution.
I do believe that football fans forget a lot of the time that their team’s players all experience the same mental fragility that we all do, and his reaction on the pitch was an explosion of emotion to the abuse he, his wife and their new-born child had received online from anonymous users. Reading about these incidents, it makes you question the ideals of the ‘so-called fans’ of football clubs, where there’s an idea that buying a ticket to a football match is like buying a ‘pass’ to be able to abuse players, managers, and staff of football clubs. This kind of mob mentality has been amplified and multiplied over the years due to the extreme fan views that have been released online. Personally, I don’t blame Xhaka for his reaction and it’s shocking how the initial reaction of this was how disrespectful he had been. Few of the major news outlets ever raised the question ‘Is he okay now?’ or ‘Should we sanction the Arsenal’s fans behaviour for this constant string of abuse?’ More must be done to protect players from online abuse and a level of mutual respect for one’s well being must be reached between fans, players and staff. As a result, we can band together to achieve the best results out on the pitch and not descend into personal insults and abuse which follows the players home and affects their emotional state. Written By Sonny Reed
Exercise helps as a distraction, providing you with some quiet time to focus on something other than any negative feelings you may be experiencing. It
ways an active lifestyle can benefit your mental health
can help you break the cycle of negative thoughts that feed issues such as depression and can provide an outlet for energy that would otherwise worsen the symptoms of ADHD, OCD, and ADD.
Exercise can help your physical health and
Increasing the amount of energy your body
physique and even add years to your life, but
uses throughout the day by exercising helps
that’s not what truly motivates most people
you to sleep deeper and longer at night.
to stay active. Those of us who exercise regularly
Anyone who has experienced mental health
do it because it makes us feel good. It can make
issues knows how dramatically your sleeping
you sleep better at night, feel more energetic
pattern can be affected, and it can be difficult
throughout the day, improve your memory, and it
to return to a normal amount of sleep.
can also be a powerful healer for many common
mental health issues. Even the most moderate
Exercise can also improve your self-esteem,
amounts of exercise can make a huge difference:
which is a powerful fighter against most
Running for 15 minutes a day reduces your risk of
can help you feel better both physically and
depression by 26%. While you’re building up your
mentally, making you happier with your physical
fitness levels to be able to manage a 15-minute
physique, health levels and provide you with
run, walking for an hour has the exact same effect.
the confidence to seek additional support.
Doing this can promote changes in the brain, including reducing inflammation, encouraging
neural growth and creating new activity patterns
support for any mental health issues you’re
that create feelings of calm and well-being.
experiencing, but you can support your journey
to a happy and healthy brain by adding just
Any kind of exercise, no matter how light,
15 minutes of exercise to your daily routine.
Walk to your friend’s house instead of getting
you, improve your mood and are essential
a taxi, take the stairs instead of the lift, or do
some yoga in your pants in your bedroom!
Written by Katie Ansell
Designed By Rebecca Lewin
Supporting the Mental health of our LGBTQ+ community
Written by Eve Watson Designed by Will Rayner
A shocking 93% of people thought young LGBTQ+ individuals have higher rates of poor mental health, self-harm and suicide than their ‘non LGBTQ+ counterparts.’ This result is from findings of a study by mental health charity Student Minds. 36
It’s a shameful result, with many of the respondents going on to explain that they experienced issues when receiving support because they felt misunderstood or judged. The LGBTQ+ community could be at a high risk of being excluded, isolated and their voices stifled if they don’t get the support they need. The question is, how can universities confront this? “Tackling the issue I believe comes down to what I suspect to be a major contributing factor to the problem, which is that although there is growing acceptance within the UK for the LGBTQ+ community, it’s still not normalised leading to stigmatisation,” said Sam, (whose name has been changed for anonymity reasons), a 2nd year student at NTU. Sam has experienced mental health issues as a result of questioning their gender and sexuality. They explained there is still huge focus on heterosexual orientation as the ‘norm’. “Homosexual intercourse wasn’t a topic which was discussed as part of the sex-ed curriculum during lessons at my school. This is particularly problematic
as puberty will be when a lot of young people begin to question their sexuality and as a result are either left to struggle alone or are bullied.” Sam’s suggestion that stigmatisation is the root problem in a higher percentage of LGBTQ+ mental health issues is definitely something worth taking on board. This stigma can alienate and isolate individuals and contribute to poor mental health. As a member of the Pride Society at Nottingham Trent, Sam explains it’s a safe space for members of the university community. “It’s very inclusive and I have always felt very welcome. They offer a number of events which I’ve attended which cater to a range of interests including social events.” So what does NTU and the Students’ Union offer for those struggling with mental health and LGBTQ+ issues? Until researching this article, I had no idea our SU had what is known as a ‘Gender Officer’. But Chelsea Sowden, a 3rd year animation student is the official Gender Officer for Nottingham Trent’s Students’ Union. “The purpose of my role is to essentially represent students who feel disadvantaged because of their
gender identity,” Chelsea said. “This can be women, transgender students, and students who don’t identify with any gender at all, anywhere on the spectrum.” “The role of the Gender Officer also helps support mental health and male suicidal awareness. I try to cover as much as I can, so I hold things like focus groups and try to talk to students who want to engage with me directly.” Chelsea’s warm and endearing personality is definitely something special, and in my view if someone did need some support or guidance she would be easy to approach and extremely understanding. She followed on by saying her email is always open for students to chat with her about anything that is troubling them. With people like Chelsea in officer roles, I feel like there is definitely support for LGBTQ+ individuals at the SU. “I make sure that the needs of students are being met in different ways, whether that’s socially, academically, and even after university when they are graduates.” She believes it’s very important that in a university setting there is the role of a Gender Officer. “Our
university has a specific designated support adviser for students who are questioning their gender identity, and they are specifically there for those students. Our university support services also offer support with coming out whether that’s social support, academic support, anything like that.” “We can always be doing more. I think it’s one of those things where I think it’s good that I have a good link and the SU has a really positive relationship with the university because we can work so closely with them. It’s the kind of thing we really need to drive in and they will increase provision of.” Chelsea also touched on one of Sam’s concerns about stigmatisation: “Unfortunately there is so much stigma and misunderstanding that it doesn’t always feel like you can reach out to certain services, so I think it’s really important students are aware they have multiple points of contact. I think that’s really important in universities that there isn’t just one place.” She also urges students to take advantage of the support out there, because there’s a great deal, it’s just knowing how to access it. She explains driving that idea of access is so important for universities, and making sure even if it is there, that
people know about it and feel supported. Whether individuals come under the term LGBTQ+ or not, Chelsea believes we can all be involved in the issues and become good allies. “Even if you don’t think it directly affects you it could affect someone in your family, a friend of yours, a teacher or anything like that who you come into contact with,” she said. “It’s part of everyone’s life and it’s something we all need to wake up to and be aware of, because it is such a huge social issue and it’s affecting so many people so deeply. I think we can all work on being really good allies.” She continued: “I think we will see a lot of change academically and in universities. The reason I love this university so much is because it has a diverse community and we need to celebrate it, especially issues with gender identity where the person
If you are reading this and are struggling, here are a variety of different support systems you can contact. Chelsea, Gender Officer: firstname.lastname@example.org NTSU Information and Advice Service: email@example.com telephone: 0115 848 6260 NTU Student Services: firstname.lastname@example.org telephone: 0115 848 6060 Nottinghamshire LGBT+ Network: Volunteers are available via phone and online Monday – Friday, 7pm 9:15pm 0115 934 8485 or email info@ nottslgbt.com QTIPOC Notts: QTIPOC Notts is a social and peerled support group based in the community for LGBTQ+ people of colour in Nottingham email@example.com
might not want to come out and might not be ready. To help them come out we need to be a voice for people who may not be able to use theirs for reasons of safety.” Alongside the LGBT Officer Stanley Pattinson, Chelsea runs different events and issue-lead focus groups throughout the year for students. Her favourite is the weekly showing of Rupaul’s Drag Race UK, at which point in the interview we both had a full discussion about who was our favourite (she was fully behind Davina and Bagga Chipz!). “Getting involved on any level is really positive, it doesn’t always have to be activism it’s just creating something fun that people can join in with. It’s not about your gender identity, it’s not about your sexuality, no one cares whether you’re straight, gay, transgender, it doesn’t matter and no-one questions it.” Chelsea’s final advice to anyone struggling is strong but simple: Talk to someone. “The most important thing is to realise how big your support network is. When we think of support network we often think of our friends and our family, but it’s so much bigger than that. You have the SU behind you the university behind you, so many organisations behind you. Reach out and find what you think might be best.”
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