Student Health Services arranges Mental Health Week 11-15 October

Two students on a bench in the sunlight outside of Uppsala University's Visby campus

This autumn, the Student Health Services will be arranging Uppsala University’s first Mental Health Week. The event will take place between 11 and 15 October in conjunction with the World Health Organization’s annual World Mental Health Day on 10 October.

Mental Health Week is being arranged in order to draw attention to mental health and wellbeing and a number of lectures, workshops and activities will take place during the week. While the Student Health Services will be arranging and coordinating the week’s events, the programme has been prepared in collaboration with a wide range of stakeholders, including study counsellors, the Language Workshop, Campus 1477, Innovation Day and Uppsala Health Summit.

“Events will include everything from workshops on dealing with study-related stress, with tips and advice on effective revision and succeeding with your studies, to free training at Campus 1477 throughout the week. We have also invited external speakers to give lectures on subjects such as autism, suicide and perfectionism,” says Karolin Eriksson, health educator with the Student Health Services and one of those who has been working hard over the course of the year to prepare Mental Health Week.

Inform and inspire

The aim of the week is both to inform, inspire and, hopefully, reduce the stigma surrounding mental ill health, and to highlight the efforts of those parts of the University’s organisation that work to promote student health.

It is intended to raise the profile of the Student Health Service and other support functions, including by focusing attention on various topics related to the mental wellbeing of students through lectures, seminars and other events.

“Various reports have suggested that mental illness is on the rise, not least among students, and the pandemic in particular has increased isolation and loneliness. This event is a great way to raise issues of student wellbeing broadly across the University,” says Eva Söderman, head of unit at the Student Health Services.

Thorough planning

Additional investment from central government has increased the resources available to the Student Health Services for 2021, among other things making it possible to recruit health educators tasked with conducting dedicated preventive and outreach initiatives that, in turn, have resulted in the planning of Mental Health Week. In a way, the week is also a development of the Student Health Services’ own Student Health Day, which they arranged a few years ago.

“At the beginning of the year I heard from two different student unions that the idea of arranging a week focused on mental health and wellbeing had been raised and, at the same time, there has been a great deal of discussion during the pandemic about how students have been affected by online study and social distancing,” says Karolin Eriksson.

At the Student Health Services, the idea of planning this to coincide with World Mental Health Day in October began to crystallise. Those largely responsible for the planning, Karolin Eriksson and Sofie Westberg, a counsellor at the Student Health Services on Campus Gotland, have invested a great deal of time in preparing, but they have also had input from other staff at the Student Health Service over the course of the year.

“When the idea of the week was hatched, it was quite literally a blank sheet of paper to be filled; still, we had plenty of ideas and we were very enthusiastic. Eventually, our enthusiasm turned to concern about how we could bring it all together. Both Karolin and I have had nightmares about the week ending in complete disaster! The fact that we have now succeeded in piecing together a programme with so many fascinating and relevant subjects feels both slightly surreal and, at the same time, really great,” says Sofie Westberg.

Information on Mental Health Week can be found on the Student Health Services’ website, in various calendars and on the digital displays on campus and the event will also be marketed on social media. Karolin Eriksson hopes that students will discover Mental Health Week and that they will attend the workshops, activities and lectures that interest them.

“Mental Health Week sends an important signal that Uppsala University is a higher education institution that cares about its students and wants them to enjoy their studies in good health. If you feel unwell, help is at hand!”

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