World Mental Health Day

Students and staff are gathered in a group sitting and standing on and behind benches outside the student hub. 5 students are holding up pieces of paper with the words “Let’s talk about mental health” written on them. Back row, left to right – Avram, Libby, Robert, Jack Y, Nick Comley, Claire Lewin, Libby Hudson, Anes, Ciaron, Rachel Beaumont, Emma, Charlotte, Lorren and guide dog Casper. Front row, left to right – Tiri and guide dog Darby, Matt, Tash, Jack M, Chris and Kaya.

10 October 2017 marks the 25 year anniversary of World Mental Health Day and this year’s theme concentrates on mental health in the workplace. Mental health issues such as stress, anxiety and depression are thought to be some of the biggest causes of sickness and absence both in work and at school/college/university. At RNC (Royal National College for the Blind) we know that having good mental health is an essential part of being productive in the workplace which, in turn, creates a positive working environment for our students.

 

Coming to a residential college means that as well as dealing with the normal teenage/young adult issues of relationships, friendship groups and exam stress etc., our students also need to deal with being away from home, often for the first time. 21 year old Libby Corrigan from Devon has just started her second year at RNC and says “With mental health people don’t really know where to start and that is the problem. Two years ago I was not in a good place; I was literally over the edge. But I wanted what anyone else had, I wanted an education and I wanted the normality of having a routine and I wanted to come to RNC. I was diagnosed with depression which was hard to accept at the time, but I don’t have a fear of it anymore, I see the college counsellor regularly and it helps a lot. The biggest thing for me is being able to speak about it, it’s not a taboo subject here and talking about my mental health makes it easier for me to deal with.”

 

Counselling is offered and available to all students at RNC and provides an opportunity for students to talk in a safe place, to the same person. Roberta Hardman, our college counsellor, specialises in CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) which helps to manage your problems by changing the way you think and behave. But Rachel Beaumont, RNC’s Residential Manager and Head of Medical Support, explains that counselling is not necessarily right for everyone, “All students are individuals and their needs are different, some students have regular support sessions with alternative members of staff as there are many people here, particularly in residential and pastoral support, who have training and experience working with students who have a mental health condition. During the year we find that access to counsellor support varies so in the beginning common fears for new students are often around being away from home, managing friendship groups and relationships etc. whereas towards the end of their placement students may be worried about moving on, the future, jobs etc.”

 

RNC Principal Mark Fisher explains “It’s normal for anyone to feel down, stressed or anxious about things from time to time and this is usually because of a particular reason or situation that they’re going through at that time. In any academic year approximately a third of students will visit the college counsellor, their frequency will vary between individuals so some will have just a couple of sessions whilst others may find that having fixed sessions throughout their time here helps to sustain their mental health.”

 

Applications are now open for September 2018 so if you would like to find out more about why RNC could be the college for you, call our student enquiries line on 01432 376 621 or email info@rnc.ac.uk

Article written by Bik Lee, Digital Media Officer at RNC