Seek help for mental health issues, urges Abertay graduate

Seek help for mental health issues, urges Abertay graduate

A former Abertay University student has urged people struggling with mental health issues to speak out this Christmas after support given to her helped her graduate.

Laura Jackson graduated last month with a Masters in International Human Resource Management.

It was a proud achievement for the 23 year-old, who says it wouldn’t have happened without the support provided by Abertay’s Mental Health Advisor and Student Services team throughout her studies.

“A few years ago, I was at a really low point in my life. I had just started a business degree in Glasgow but, due to health and mental health issues, I felt so isolated that I dropped out after only a few weeks and had to go back to living with my mum,” she said.

“If you’d told me then that I’d soon be graduating with a Masters with Distinction, I would never have believed you.”

Throughout her three years at Abertay – two completing a BA in Business Management, and one at Masters level – Laura attended regular sessions with its mental health advisor David Cameron.

“Because I’d had a few months out after leaving Glasgow, when I started at Abertay I wanted to see what was available to help support my studies,” she said.

“The Advisory Service not only provided me with practical resources, including a study plan and a laptop with special dyslexia software that helped with my coursework but, because I’d informed them I had been diagnosed with anxiety, they also referred me to David.”

This ongoing support ended up being key to Laura’s progression through her degree as she engaged with the service when she felt overwhelmed juggling coursework deadlines, a part-time job and a spate of health issues, including an underactive thyroid and learning difficulties dyslexia, dyspraxia and dysgraphia.

“There were so many times, when things were tough and my mental health was suffering, that I was close to giving up,” she said.

“Knowing that support was there and available was what kept me going. Some of my friends have mental health issues of their own which meant they weren’t always able to help when I needed them. David was a constant.”

Following Graduation, Laura has moved back to Glasgow and is currently an intern at a women-only HR practice, while she thinks about her next move.

By sharing her story, Laura hopes she can help inspire others to keep going, even when mental health issues try to stand in their way.

Laura said: “My advice to anyone out there who feels like I did is to not put too much pressure on yourself to be perfect. Speak to someone, get a study plan and let people help you. You’re not letting anyone down by focusing on yourself now and again.”

Abertay’s Mental Health Advisor, David Cameron, said: “I am pleased I have been able to contribute a little and help Laura. She had a lot to cope with, both with her physical health and mental health, therefore her achievements deserve great credit.”

A number of organisations will be available over the festive period for those seeking support or help:

Breathing Space Scotland – provides telephone counselling. Open: Weekdays – Monday to Thursday 6pm to 2am; Weekend -Friday 6pm to Monday 6am. Their phone number is 0800 83 85 87.

Insights Counselling – a  counselling services that provides confidential, non-judgemental, 1-2-1 counselling by appointment. For further details you can phone 01382-305706 or visit them online.

Samaritans – provides a 24/7, 365 day a year telephone service – Their phone number is 116 123  or you can email jo@samaritans.org.uk.

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Dundee youngsters given inspirational talk by Scots billionaire Sir Tom Hunter at policy-shaping event

Sir Tom Hunter speaks to youngsters at Abertay University

 

Link to Courier article here 

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Mental health inquiry could provide lasting legacy for suicide victims

The Carseview Centre

 

Link to Courier article here 

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Scotland’s top official praised for mental health disclosure

Permanent Secretary Leslie Evans.
Permanent Secretary Leslie Evans.

SCOTLAND’S most senior civil servant has been commended for speaking about her personal experience of mental health problems.

Permanent Secretary Leslie Evans said she had worked through “several tough and very stressful episodes” in the past, and had seen a health professional at one point.

She shared the information with Scottish Government staff in a personal blog in July, and yesterday made it available publicly on the government’s website.

She said she wanted to help stamp out the stigma surrounding mental ill-health.

Ms Evans had been a low-key figure since being appointed Permanent Secretary in 2015.

But she was thrown into the public spotlight last month when it emerged she had investigated sexual misconduct allegations against Alex Salmond, and the former First Minister launched a legal action against her handling of the case.

Ms Evans did not identify her particular mental health experiences, but they are understood to predate her time in the civil service.

Nicola Sturgeon this week announced an extra £250m for mental health services, particularly those required by young people.

In her “Catch up with Perm Sec” blog on 2 July, Ms Evans included a section on mental health which stressed the importance of good mental health and wellbeing at work.

She wrote: “Last week I took part in an open and frank session at Victoria Quay [the government office in Edinburgh] which reflected on our mental health experiences as individuals, how this informs the culture of our organisation, and where we need to improve mental health and wellbeing support.

“Like many people I have worked my way through several tough and very stressful episodes. What helped me was the support of my line manager, on one occasion seeing a health professional, and the continuing support of my friends and family.

“We all have a role to play in stamping out stigma surrounding mental health and improving our workplace culture.”

Calum Irving, director of See Me, the Scottish campaign to end mental health stigma and discrimination, said: “I was fortunate to hear Leslie speak very passionately about mental health at work and to share her own experience. It is a very challenging thing to do but can have a profound effect, especially coming from people in leadership positions.

“Workplace discrimination because of mental ill health is sadly still commonplace and it prevents people from being treated equally. So concerted action from senior leaders is very much needed, to ensure that we can all live fulfilled lives.”

In recent years, a series of politicians and public figures, including MPs and Prince Harry, have spoken about their experience of mental health.

But Scottish LibDem health spokesman Alex Cole-Hamilton said it was rare for officials to do likewise.

He said: “This is very brave of Leslie and hopefully will give courage to others to come forward and talk about things they might have been going through.

“We often think of the civil service as quite severe and dry place to work. It’s really significant that the most senior civil servant in the land has paved the way for this traditionally quite conservative profession to open up about mental health and I commend her for it.”

Ms Evans is being taken to court by Mr Salmond over her handling of two complaints made against him in January which relate to his time as first minister in 2013.

He is challenging the investigatory process through a judicial review at the Court of Session, drawing on a £100,000 war chest funded by a controversial online appeal.

Ms Evans also referred to Mr Salmond’s case in her blog of 27 August.

She said: “You will appreciate that for legal reasons I am unable to say anything further at this point, but I can assure you that the Scottish Government will defend its position vigorously. I shall update you as and when I can.

“In line with work already underway to tackle inappropriate behaviour, and in consultation with our trade unions, we are carefully considering any issues about culture and working practices.”

 

 

Link to The Herald article here  

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Scots students face mental health crisis

 

Student exam

Exam stress and debt coupled to lack of support is creating increased stress and depression

University students face a mental health crisis due to exam pressures and spiraling debts.

Student body NUS Scotland issued the stark warning as new figures reveal that students seeking counselling has nearly doubled in the past five years.

There were 8,180 requests for counselling support in 2016/17, up from 4,541 in 2012/13/

Although greater awareness of mental health support partly accounts for the rise in those seeking help, NUS Scotland says student mental health is worsening because of exam stress, part-time working and debt.

There are now 55 part time counsellors in Scotland’s universities compared to 21 in 2012.

The body is calling for increased resources from the Scottish Government to tackle the problem.

Liam McCabe, president of NUS Scotland, said: “Across Scotland, universities are seeing demand rocket, while resources are increasingly stretched.

“While everyone can experience mental ill-health, student life comes with huge pressures – from balancing study with part-time work to finding a new home or a job come graduation time.

“While it’s vital to tackle the causes of these pressures it’s also crucial that counselling services are in place to help those students whose mental health is affected.”

Andrew Reeves, chair of the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy, called for better support for students in universities.

“It is deeply concerning if universities are considering downgrading or reducing counselling services within their institutions, particularly surrounding complex mental health needs amongst students,” he said.

David Lott, deputy director of Universities Scotland, said the welfare of students was a top priority.

“We want to help our students with their problems as early as possible and students in need should speak to staff,” he said.

“We are aware that the demand for mental health services is rising at our institutions and that, more broadly, there are challenges faced by these type of services.

“We also know that poor mental health does not discriminate when it comes to age, status or background.”

Link to TFN article here 

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Mental health charity unveils black dog sculpture to bring Hope to Dundee

                       HOPE

 

A new sculpture from a mental health charity has been unveiled at Dundee University.

Hope, a 3ft black dog from UK mental health charity Sane, stands at the heart of the University of Dundee campus to remind staff and students about the importance of talking about mental health.

Dr Shirley Hill, head of disability services, said: “We believe Hope’s presence will help to reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness and encourage members of the public and the university community to seek help early.

“The university offers confidential mental health advice and support to students and staff, including through our mental health, counselling, and disability services based in the support hub.”

Hope’s coat was designed by adult nursing student Laura Campbell and the name Hope was chosen by university rector and world record-breaking cyclist Mark Beaumont.

Mark said: “University can sometimes be an uphill struggle for students. It’s important to remember you are not invincible and not alone.

“Making the most of the student services Dundee provides is key to ensuring a friendly campus, where students and staff look out for each other’s wellbeing.”

The fibreglass statue is part of the mental health charity’s successful black dog campaign.

Marjorie Wallace, chief executive of Sane, said: “We are delighted that the University of Dundee is the latest Scottish university to adopt our black dog, showing a commitment to raising awareness of student mental health.

“What our campaign seems to have achieved is liberating the language of mental health so that young people can talk more openly and seek help more readily.”

 

 

Link to Evening Telegraph here 

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