TEESSIDE University is part of the ongoing Mentally Healthy Universities Programme, which is designed to help and support anyone experiencing a mental health problem.

It has also recruited and trained a team of staff Mental Health Champions to encourage colleagues to talk openly about their mental health, and to seek help when they need it.

Various events for students have also been planned next week as a way to highlight positive mental health and signpost opportunities for support and advice. These include a wellbeing walk, a tea and talk event, creative writing, and baking to enhance wellbeing; plus there will be an opportunity to meet Brengle the therapy dog.

Mental health issues affect everybody at one time or another, and they take a variety of forms - from stress, anxiety and depression, to phobias and disorders.

Georgina Barlow is a BSc (Hons) Occupational Therapy student at Teesside University who also volunteers at Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust.

She is passionate about promoting positive mental health and is part of the Occupational Therapy Society at Teesside University which helps provide educational and social events throughout the year, with a focus on positive wellbeing.

She said: “Mental health has an impact on everything we do. From my experience, it is important to keep an eye on your mental health and notice the small changes that are happening.

“The pandemic has had a big impact on mental health. Some students have not experienced university as they perhaps would have liked and not had the opportunity to make the adjustment due to restrictions and online learning.

“Returning to the ‘new normal’ will be a big change for many students and a lot of people may feel overwhelmed and isolated. There are also additional challenges such as time keeping, fatigue and sensory overload. This is where awareness of symptoms of mental health issues and signposting has increased significance.

“As part of the Occupational Therapy Society I have also planned events for the year which have a focus on wellbeing. These include an introduction to counselling and supervision, therapeutic music making, therapy animals, overcoming imposter syndrome and art psychotherapy.

“These events have been planned to raise awareness and provide additional support for students, as well as to let them know about the support available.”

“Talking about mental health is so important. It provides an opportunity to receive the correct support from friends, peers, GP services or other professionals. It all starts with a conversation.”

As part of the Mentally Healthy Universities Programme, Teesside University is helping students manage their mental health and develop the knowledge and skills they need to build their own resilience.

All Teesside University students have access to a range of resources to help support and maintain good mental health, whether they have a diagnosis or not.

Gemma Crossen, a manager in the University’s Legal and Governance Services department, volunteered to become a Mental Health Champion.

She said: “There is still a stigma associated with mental health, and sometimes people feel a problem isn’t real without a diagnosis and they can be reluctant to ask for help.“Being a Mental Health Champion is all about helping colleagues feel more comfortable about discussing mental health."

“Good mental health can include being able to manage a range of emotions, or deal with change in a positive manner. It can also be about maintaining good relationships with others, appreciating what you have got, and looking after your physical wellbeing.

“We’re not counsellors, we just want to start a conversation and signpost people to the help they might need.”

More about World Mental Health Day - www.mentalhealth.org.uk/campaigns/world-mental-health-day