Tim Francis (Mental Health Commissioning Manager) shares his views on the work the students produced
Mark Blackmore (Time to Change) shares his views on the work the students produced.
Mental Health Challenge 2017
Click on each of the images below to see the outputs that the students on the 2017 Challenge produced.
Why People Don't Seek Help: Language and Wellbeing
Students in this group looked into why students at Exeter might not want to access help from Wellbeing Services and thought that the language used on the website may be off-putting. They rewrote the text using more welcoming language, and then ran a study (as described in their poster) to assess the perception of both the original and the revised text. They found that respondents preferred the revised text, suggesting that language use affects the perception of psychological treatment. They are looking to carry their project forward by discussing their findings with the Head of Wellbeing Services and the Director of Education and Student Support.
Why People Don't Seek Help: Parent Awareness
Students in this group created an initiative to educate both teenagers and parents about mental health, and hoped that this would promote healthy dialogues that allow the child to feel comfortable in expressing their feelings. Their idea was for year 9 students to carry out group projects based around mental health as part of their PSHE lessons. The teenagers would express their research through creative means, such as drama, dance, art, cookery, songs etc, and this would all be presented at an annual showcase, which parents would attend.
Students in this group also wrote a 3200 word Mental Health Treatment Gap action plan for their initiative.
Why People Don't Seek Help: Stop Romanticising My Diagnosis
Students in this group came up with a campaign, which was not an end in itself, but a message to change the terms of debate in which mental illness is discussed. They felt that images of depression in the media are romanticised, and that people are only engaging with the issue superficially. They are campaigning for mental illness to be conveyed in realistic, concrete terms rather than vague, distorted and romanticised imagery, and created this poster. The future aims of the campaign are to publicise their hashtag #morethan1picture further to get more people sharing personal stories, and increasing awareness of the realities.
Why People Don't Seek Help: Mind the Treatment Gap
Students in this group came up with a public health campaign to improve understanding and awareness of the most prevalent mental health issues. Their aims were to empower people to talk about their difficulties more easily by giving visibility to what is usually invisible, and to reduce stigma by increasing the understanding of the perspectives of people with mental health difficulties. They did this by producing a series of posters which pictured common scenarios. They decided to link their project with the Mental Health charity, Mind.
Why People Don't Seek Help: Kidz Kind
Students in this group produced a protocol for an educational workshop, aimed at children aged 8-9. The workshop they designed comprised of two sessions, with the goals of helping children to understand emotions, teaching them strategies for coping and raising awareness of mental health to reduce stigma. As part of one of these sessions, they designed a board game. The group felt that the stigma surrounding mental health was one of the most significant reasons for people deciding not to seek help, and so wanted to create something to break this stigma. They chose to target young children to break the stigma from its grass roots. This is the poster and presentation they produced.
Computer Based Self Help Therapy
Students in this group looked into online delivery of mental health therapies. They found that there were a lot of different apps available for improving wellbeing, and that online treatment was potentially more accessible, flexible and cost-effective than face to face treatment. However, they felt that there is still a lack of awareness that computer based therapies exist. They produced a video to promote the use of online treatment as a coping strategy, showing a day in the life of two people with depression; one using a mental health app and the other not using an app.
Reading to Improve Wellbeing: Fresh Reads
Students in this group created an interactive book club, based on the rationale that reading fiction has a positive impact on an individual’s ability to understand themselves and others, making them more skilled in social interaction. The project focuses on improving the wellbeing of students, through reading and discussing short stories and poems. The website will feature a different theme each month, with literature which resonates with these themes. The themes chosen will be in line with the academic year, i.e the September focus would be loneliness or homesickness and the exam period theme would be stress. This is their promotional poster. They are hoping to continue the project in this academic year.
Reading to Improve Wellbeing: The Bibliotherapists
Students in this group produced a scientific proposal for an experiment, which explored the effects of different kinds of reading (either aloud, or silently) on wellbeing, specifically anxiety. Different roles were assigned to individuals in their group, based on their educational background. For example, English and Classics students researched the best form of literature to use in the study, whereas the Science-based students provided the scientific framework and rationale to be used for the study. They produced a poster to present the proposal for their experiment, which could potentially pave the way for future findings into the beneficial effects of reading.
Physical Activity to Enhance Wellbeing: 'Mind your Head' Gets Active
Students in this group came up with the idea of a free graded exercise programme, based on the principle of behavioural activation. They recognised that participation itself could be challenging for someone with mental health problems, so they tried to make it as user friendly and accessible as possible. They created a leaflet which explained their concept, and general benefits of being more active. They also created three walking/running routes around Exeter which people could do at their own leisure or with one of the established groups. They are hoping to continue this project in collaboration with the Mind your Head Society.
Physical Activity to Enhance Wellbeing: Brain Peeps
Students in this group focused on raising awareness of how physical activity could combat susceptibility to mental illness. To do this, they planned an event to run during Freshers’ Week. They would have facilitators based in the Forum approaching people and asking them for suggestions and testimonials about how to become more active and how physical activity has helped them before. They would encourage people to write their tips and ideas on their poster. They would also discuss common misconceptions with people, for example that physical activity doesn’t need to be intense exercise.