Mental health

If you need immediate help, please call the Samaritans on 116 123. If you are at risk to yourself or others, please call 999 or get someone to take you to your nearest A&E department.

What is mental health?

The World Health Organisation: ‘health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity’. Mental health is ‘... the emotional and spiritual resilience which allows us to enjoy life and survive pain, disappointment and sadness. It is a positive sense of well-being and an underlying belief in our own, and others’ dignity and worth’. (Health education Authority. Mental health promotion: a quality framework. London: Health Education Authority;1997).

What influences mental health?

Several additional factors are likely to contribute to someone’s mental health and their experience of recovery. These factors include:

  • Mental health and age: While anyone can experience ill mental health, some mental health illnesses are more common at different ages. For example, young people are more likely to
  • begin to self-harm to cope with feelings of distress and similarly, Schizophrenia is more likely to emerge between the ages of 16 and 25.
  • Mental health and gender: Men and women can differ in experiences with their mental health. For example, women are more likely to suffer from depression than men however men are more likely to die by suicide. Women are more likely to suffer from eating disorders whereas men are more likely to turn to drugs and alcohol. The differences here can reflect different childhood and adolescent experiences as well as treatment needs.
  • Mental health and disability: disability or long-term physical illness can make an individual more likely to develop ill mental health due to the limitations and social contact with others.

Common mental health illnesses:

  • Depression: Clinical depression is an episode that lasts for at least 2 weeks and that affects a person’s behaviour while also having emotional effects. It could also interfere with the ability to work and to have successful personal relationships. Although common, depression can be serious and be recurrent.
  • Some symptoms include: a usually sad mood that does not go away, loss of enjoyment or interest in activities, lack of energy, loss of confidence/self-esteem, feeling guilty, difficulty in making decisions and sometimes suicidal thoughts.
  • Warning signs: might show lack of attention to appearance and hygiene, they might become anxious and irritable, they might be slower in moving and thinking. They might have a different attitude to normal, they might be more negative, they might have a negative view about themselves and say things like ‘I’m a failure’ or ‘it is all my fault’.
  • Bipolar disorder: some people with depression can experience mania which is classes as the opposite of depression. A person isn’t diagnosed with bipolar until they have experienced an episode of mania.

Signs include: Being overconfident, being very talkative, risk taking behaviour and increased energy.

  • Anxiety: Everyone experiences some anxiety at some point in their life however when it is long-lasting and interfering with day-to-day life as well as work and life relationships. Anxiety is an umbrella term for an array of disorders however by using the Goldberg Anxiety scale, medical professionals use it so diagnose individuals.

General symptoms of anxiety include heart palpitations, chest pain, hyperventilation, dizziness, headache, sweating, nausea, restlessness Some behavioral effects include avoiding social situations, compulsive behavior and showing signs of phobic behavior.

Some people suffering from anxiety can also have panic attacks, this is where there is a sudden onset of intense fear. Panic attacks can begin and develop suddenly causing dizziness, hyperventilating and experiencing symptoms of a heart attack.

  • Psychosis: This is a general term used to describe a mental health issue where a person experiences changes in their thinking, perception, mood and behavior. Schizophrenia, dipolar, psychotic depression and schizoaffective disorder are the most common psychotic diagnoses however it can take 1-2 years before a person experience psychosis receives treatment.
  • Some symptoms include depression, anxiety, suspiciousness, lacking concentration, disturbed sleep, reduced ability carrying out work or social roles.

  • Eating disorders: An eating disorder is when someone has an ‘unhealthy attitude to food’. It can involve eating too much or too little and being obsessed to their weight and body image. Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia are the two most common eating disorders

Drop-in Times

As part of her role, Katy Baker, VP-Welfare, is carrying out drop-in sessions to signpost students to services within the University or external services if necessary. Please see the times below:

Wednesdays, 10:30-12:30 in the Engine Shed

Thursdays, 10:30-12:30 in the Learning Hub

Registering with a doctor's surgery

It is important to register with a doctor's surgery while you are at University and you can still be a temporary at your original surgery if you are moving away from home. Here on Waterside Campus, there is a doctor's surgery on campus with 6 doctors working on a rota basis and nurses who can also prescribe if necessary. Waterside Health Centre welcomes both international and home students and offers the following additional services: sexual health support, contraception, smoking help, pregnancy support, asthma reviews and travel advice.

When you register with the doctor's surgery, you NEED to have a proof of address.

Tea and Talk

On Thursday 28th November the University services and Students’ Union are coming together and putting on a Tea and Talk. This event is known nationally for people gathering together and talking about mental health. As well as the Mental Health First Aiders being on hand to help, different organisations from around Northamptonshire will be there promoting their services and reaching out.

The Students’ Union are going to have a stall there to promote our Sports Clubs and Societies because being part of a group and sharing common interests can reduce loneliness and isolation. There is plenty of evidence to suggest that students who join a group make close friendships with others and this is vital when joining University especially if you do not know anyone to begin with.

Katy (VP Welfare) and Ryan ( VP Union Development) will be there to be on the stall and to support students and staff as Mental Health First Aiders.

MHFA and how we can help

Katy (VP Welfare), Ryan (VP Union Development) and Gemma (President) are Mental Health First Aiders. We have all done our 2 day training and have gained valuable knowledge, techniques and ways of guiding someone so they feel safe. We are also aware of key numbers and organisations who can support you if you are feeling vulnerable or if it’s out of hours.

The Students’ Union is open to students all week and we are happy for students to come and see us.