A group of students from Worcester University have created wristbands to promote positive mental health across sports and societies on campus.
Lead by Katie Watts, the group all have experience with mental health issues, and have created the resource to be distributed during the University’s Sports Mental Health Week, starting on January 21st.
‘There is a lot of stigma around mental health in sports,’ explains Katie, who is Chair of the Student Mind Committee. ‘I think men in particular are too proud to talk about it, so this project is about encouraging that and letting people know what support is out there.’
The wristbands are emblazoned with the words ‘WORC towards positive mental wellbeing’ and the hashtag #teamworc.
‘I myself suffer from depression and anxiety, and have accessed support at the uni,’ says Katie, 20. ‘That was one of the motivations for me getting involved with the project, because I know what it is like to need help.
‘You have to refer yourself to the support services, and that is why it is important to know what help is available so that you can. We chose a wristband because everybody wears them, and you can still wear them during sports. It’s about raising positive awareness as oppose to stigma.’
Also involved is fellow law student Alia Moorhouse, 19, who explains why the project is aimed at sports teams in particular.
‘We all felt there is a culture in sport where people think they have to be strong, but while someone may be strong on the pitch they might not be strong mentally.
‘I play rugby and participate in athletics, which I love, and I also suffer from anxiety, depression and PTSD. We want to spread the message that it’s ok not to be ok sometimes, and that there is no shame in seeking help.’
Tizzi Wooler is Vice-Chair of the Student Mind Committee, and while she does not suffer from any mental health conditions herself, she accessed the University's counselling service after suffering from stress in her second year.
'I wasn't managing, but the mental health team were really helpful,' she explains. 'They taught me that stress is ok, as long as you don't let it consume you.'
However, the 20-year-old does acknowledge the counselling service can be slow due to the number of people they have to cater for, as she found out when she tried to contact them after suffering a double-bereavement.
'I lost my grandfather in August, and contacted their grief service, where I was told there was a six-month waiting list and that I couldn't be seen until February. While I was waiting, my other grandfather passed away, and I feel I need them more than ever.
'They could use some more funding and a few more counsillors to ensure they are effective as possible, but it really is a great service that has helped me and so many people that I know. We want people to know it's out there.'
‘People often don’t want to talk about mental health because they don’t want to say the wrong thing,’ says Katie. ‘All of us have accessed support, and want to encourage people to do the same.’
Their project was supported by the Worcester Community Foundation.
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