Hitchhiker’s guide to Student Mental Health

March marks University Mental Health Day and this month ROMBi founder Penny is continuing to foster enduring change by raising awareness of the benefits of structured handplay for students struggling with aspects of mental health.

There are a wide-range of support services available to students struggling with mental health concerns, through subject faculties and University-wide services.

The task for service providers is to find ways for those who would most benefit from mental health service provision to be able to access it.

So, let’s start with what resources are available.

Student mental health resources

Student Minds is the UK’s student mental health charity, empowering students and members of the university community to look after their own mental health, support others and create change.

Other useful resources include:

  • Student Space
  • Men’s Mental Health
  • The Wellbeing Thesis
  • Transition into university
  • Starting university
  • Exam stress
  • LGBTQ+
  • Looking after your mental wellbeing
  • Year abroad
  • Student finance
  • Support through a family health crisis
  • Coping with Student Life

Student Minds is encouraging students to take on the Step into Spring for student mental health challenge, a target distance to walk, run, cycle or roll during March.

Addressing student mental health

Students struggling with their mental health may struggle to pinpoint the reason why. As a practising Psychoanalyst, Educationalist and ROMBi founder Penny is frequently asked for questions that call for viable starting points. Penny highlights that in any given situation, we need to be able to access and to clarify our desire in order to be able to find viable ways through. As we do so, difficult situations can, in retrospect, become valuable opportunities for discovery.

Properly understood, our desire is our compass that gives us our sense of direction in life and what prompts our suffering (blocks our path to joy/satisfaction) is our thinking/believing in opposition to it.

Penny recommends structured handplay as a starting point in response to many questions: “It is vital for developing mental and physical coordination, as well as allowing you to relax and access your ‘flow’.”

Here are Penny’s top tips to get started:

  • You can use children's puzzles - it is not the complexity of the puzzle that counts but the exploration of form, and frequency of practising with consistent basic physical forms.
  • The puzzle should be a physical form, Not app-based, where you have the object in your hands. This enables you to get a more precise feel for the relationships between the object in space, your hands, your body, your body in the space shared with the object.
  • Practising daily will bring you the greatest benefit. You become faster quite quickly, so 10 minutes a day will soon be enough to act as a foundation for doing other things with increasing ease.
  • Qigong or Tai Chi are also valuable foundational practices, bringing you into a sense of structure and flow at ever more subtle levels.
  • It is worth keep a small notebook and noting any changes as you engage in your practices.

For achieving your best, allowing your intelligence to function without relying on criticism of yourself and others is vital. Although it is used as a so called ‘motivator', it actually obstructs your access to creative thought stream (flow of intelligence) and your enjoyment.

Appreciating things while allowing more of the influences that inspire you to continue to expand your awareness brings you to your best.

For more information

Penny’s Quora account is filled with useful answers to a range of life’s questions and her bio includes a list of useful links. View Penny's Quora here!

For more insights from Penny follow our social media accounts:

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