Bhavan Bains

Derby College (@derbycollege) A Level student Bhavan Bains has spearheaded the launch of a new Student Mental Health Society to support and motivate her peers during the continued pandemic.

The society, which is currently meeting online, aims to help students learn and share knowledge with each other and instigate conversations to breakdown the stigma around mental health.

Society members are also producing podcasts to share with the college community on such issues as the importance of sleep and digital downtime.

Bhavan (17) has already used her own experience of mental health issues, bullying and the challenges of being a young carer to help improve services for young people by getting involved in local and national research into the issue which is then discussed with health professionals.

The society is currently available to students at the Joseph Wright Centre but will be rolled out across all colleges in the Derby College Group (DCG) in Derby, Ilkeston and Morley after Easter.

Bhavan said: “When I started my A Levels at the Joseph Wright Centre in September, I was keen to use my previous experience to support other students and help shape mental health and wellbeing support available here.

“As welfare officers for the JWC student council, I got a small group together to set up a Student Mental Health Society and we so far have around 60 members.

“The society is led by the students for the students because we know each other better than anyone else.

“We meet regularly online to share knowledge, support each other and to work with the College welfare team to have our say on what services are available and how they are delivered.

“Mental health and wellbeing is different for every individual but a common experience at the moment is lockdown fatigue.

“Many young people are finding it difficult to stay motivated to keep on top of college work and other challenges in life and many students are also saying that they are facing extreme loneliness.

“As well as supporting each other, the society focuses on student progression and skill enhancement. Students can use the society’s resources and connections to create materials related to welfare and wellbeing which can be shared across the different colleges.

“Practical work such as creating the podcasts has been something very positive to focus on and keep us motivated.

DCG Welfare Coordinator Kate Moon said:

“It is great that we have a student-led Mental Health Society which can offer peer to peer support and also feedback their views on the wide range of support and resources that the College has in place.

“The podcasts will be a great addition to the mental wellbeing toolkit that we have developed for students and we look forward to the Society being able to invite students to face to face meetings and events in the future.”

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