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@barnsleycollege students were virtually joined by a trio of mental health advocates, Tom’s Talks, The Daparian Foundation and MITOS, in order to celebrate and raise awareness of World Mental Health Day. 

Former Barnsley College student, Tom Dickinson, began touring schools and businesses as a motivational speaker after losing his brother in 2015 and experiencing low moods and periods of depression. He decided he would spread the importance of breaking the stigma around mental health illnesses and encouraging people to believe their mental health is just as important as their physical health.  

Tom delivered an interactive session exploring the coping mechanisms available such as exercise, healthy diets, relaxation therapy and mindfulness. He said: “The sooner young people learn about mental health, the better. People need to realise that it’s also okay to not be okay and that it’s okay to talk, it’s better for their mental health in the long run. The stresses of college can be daunting for any student but especially students that may struggle with their mental health. If we keep the conversation and awareness going, hopefully it will help students deal with these stresses and prepare them for everyday challenges.” 

Students listened to Naomi Trentham and Marie El-Khazen from MITOS, an umbrella organisation for collaborations and projects that enable sustainable change in education. The workshop covered the impact of lockdown on emotional and mental health, and how to increase resilience and remain connected with others. Students learnt how to increase and optimise learning as well as the value in emotions and how important it is to face them. 

Naomi, Founder of MITOS and Emotional Engagement Coach, added: “MITOS is passionate about empowering young adults with the knowledge and tools to develop resilience, enabling healthy perspectives and improved wellbeing. We do this to prevent burnout, depression, anxiety and other mental health challenges we see among our adult clients." 

Students also heard from Richard Gettings, from the Daparian Foundation, an ex-police officer who was joined by military veteran Gareth Stanton, both have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The session covered topics to highlight what PTSD is, their own experiences with it, how lockdown has and can affect people diagnosed with PTSD and the plans for The Daparian Foundation moving forward. 

The sessions were organised and facilitated by Lee Perks, Barnsley College’s Enterprise Officer, who said: “It was amazing to see so many of our students getting involved in our digital event. Our guest speakers and volunteers that submitted videos for the online presentation were fantastic and really inspiring.” 

Barnsley College’s students have a wealth of support facilitates available to them, from careers advice and university application support at the Job Shop to an on-site counsellor and wellbeing teams for sensitive and personal issues at the Health and Wellbeing centre. The College have also signed up to the Association of College’s mental health charter which emphasises their understanding to create an environment that constantly promotes the wellbeing and mental health of both staff and students.  

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