York launches mental health campaign

YUSU rolls out the new “#GoodDay #BadDay” initiative

A new University-backed campaign to encourage open discussion about mental health has launched this month.

According to a YUSU blog the “#GoodDay #BadDay” initiative aims “to encourage positive conversations about mental health and ultimately remove the stigma attached to the subject of mental health.”

Students are being encouraged to tweet and Vine stories of their good days and bad days, with the appropriate hashtag, contributing to the campaign and raising awareness.

The YUSU website also features blogs and videos posted by mental illness sufferers, sharing their stories and opening up conversation. So far students Jemima, Tasha and Tay have all told their stories online to help others, speaking and writing about their experiences with depression and anxiety.

When asked how she coped with the negative reactions some people have had, Tasha wrote: “I realise it’s just lack of awareness. It’s not even their fault – it’s a problem with society.”

Jemima Busby, who along with Tay Whitehead started the campaign, said: “We won funding for the campaign from YUSU last year but decided to delay launching it in October because of our workloads and our own mental health needs. It has been a challenge at times, but so worth it! So far the reactions have been very positive and it’s really encouraging to know that being honest about our experiences (however scary it may be!) is having a positive effect on people reading and watching the videos.”

Mental health among students has long been known to be an issue. In a 2013 survey, the NUS found that 20 per cent of students “consider themselves to have mental health problems”, while a 2004 study quoted by the Royal College of Psychologists found 55 per cent of students to have at least mild “mental disorder”.

One first year student told Nouse: “Having just been diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder, I wasn’t sure what to do or who to talk to. Seeing YUSU making an effort to promote and normalise mental health illness is clearly a good step.”

However, there is still more to be done. A third year Physics student said: “I know of at least four students who have fallen back or dropped out due to depression. The university should do more to assuage academic stress as I feel that can lead to mental health problems.”

Besides the Good Day campaign, YUSU are also running a Mental Health First Aid course in Halifax College Common Room on Saturday, weeks 6 and 7. More information can be found on the Halifax College website.