The Perks of Being a Wallflower
The launch started with a few technical issues such as the computers not turning on/working…. not much of a shock though.
Renaye had organised the showing of the wonderfully diverse film: The Perks of Being A Wallflower as the launch of the campaign; Breaking the Silence: Mental Health.
Throughout the film, there are many underlying messages about mental health and the different effects it can have.
The idea of the campaign is to change the way mental health is perceived, normalising this and opening discussion and being frank.
Renaye chose an appropriate film to then open a discussion with the panellists:
Renaye Roberts-Sinclair; Campaigns Officer
Mark Roy; Psychologist who has worked in Mental Health
Hannah Mason; Media Officer
Mike Edwards; Mental Health Advisor at UCLan
Matt Dickinson; Engineering lecturer who has suffered from clinical psychosis
Gloria Ayob; Facility of Health who looks at the philosophy of mental health
Renaye kicked off the discussion with asking the other panellist what their definition of mental health would be, with different statements such as “the Issues are far from resolved” “there’s an ongoing debate about how to define mental health’ “it’s about making sense of their own experience rather than using existing medical paradigms.” “it’s a way of life”.
Topic quickly ventured into the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders which has a standardised way of diagnosing someone with the logic “if someone has this then they fit into this category”. It has the common understanding of what the person is dealing with and the alliance but it doesn’t always assign the diagnosis and sometimes the diagnosis would change because of the predication of it.
A spectrum of university papers describes it as bad health – health – good health, but the discussion lead to whether well-being should fit into this as mental health issues can’t be defined as simple things.
A main point picked up within the discussion was the negative context such as mental health “problems”, why should it be defined as a problem?
Also, men don’t talk about things often. They feel they need a validation to make a man go and talk about things, normally from encouragement of a partner.
On this subject our lovely editor in chief even said: “two people can be diagnosed with depression but can come from different backgrounds and lifestyles. It can’t be defined as the same so a scale would be easier to understand. It Ends up being quite complex”.
On the topic of helping the students and keeping them positive throughout it all, Matt Dickinson who suffers from clinical psychosis and spent a lot of his life hiding it said:” Once students start to slip and fall behind, relating to the process, if they look pale/not slept I try and assume their problems and open up students about my own problems, showing them someone else has been through it and there’s nothing wrong with being like this. It promotes positivity around students”.
Mike Edwards, one of the mental health advisors even said that self-referrals come from some certain schools and it tends to be a bigger topic in certain schools. Meaning that not all the schools are speaking to students about the issues and what can be done to help them. He also said that not many people want to engage with the services, leading the panel to discuss that students may be worried about it affecting their career and they don’t want to subject themselves to something going on their record.
The discussion lead to the stigma of men not speaking out, and how a man will try to look at the cause and addressing that but only when it becomes problematic and at a crisis point do they ask for help. This is all built up from being asked “What you crying for” “don’t be silly” “get over it” when younger, leading to both males and females to question themselves when they’re at low points.
Hannah spoke again but on the pressure of student life and how the perception of students is a negative one and this stems from media as well as her opinion on how media showcases and affects mental health. She spoke about how student life is a lot more difficult and they need the time to do what they want to relieve the stress such as sports clubs, societies and volunteering.
“Student life has changed so much, getting from a to b isn’t straight anymore, you zig zag, cry in the library a few times, just for a piece of paper”.
“I live and breathe media. A lot of the time it gets mental health wrong. It’s what the creator wants you to see. TV soaps cover a lot of mental health issues but who lives in a street where the coffee shop blows up every week, the train lines crash and there’s a new chippy every week? It’s very over dramatized. But recently Coronation Street has created a storyline speaking about miscarriage which leads into mental health.
Films romanticise it. You want to escape from everything around you. Sometimes you need a good cry; Marley and me, titanic. You’ve got to have that happy ending. Earning money from media rather than putting a change out there. Awards and money ruin the change of stigma and help.”
Everything needs to be spoken about. Breaking the silence. Other people are wanting to learn and support them.
To end the discussion, Renaye asked the panellist what would they want the audience to take away:
Mark Roy – “Take the message from the film, transition. Engaging and his life gets better, his mood gets better. People who are unhappy push people away and can bring you down a lot. Being a part of a network had a profound affect. Connecting with people and interacting. Being a friend to someone. “
Hannah Mason – “The film showed that all of them had good and bad days. Enlighten the people who don’t know about. Patience is a virtue. A simple smile. Hey how you doing? Engaging with lectures. “
Mike Edwards – “MH Advisors- Understanding the resources available at uni. If someone needs help can get seen that week. Different avenues for students “
Matt Dickinson – “Sharing a story. Showing you’re not afraid to show who you really are. Having communities. Engagement. “
Gloria Ayob – “Advising or encouraging people. 5 min pause to breath. Giving some space and time at the weekend. Getting perspective to detach. Stepping out of it. “