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College students meditate in virtual reality for World Mental Health and Homelessness Awareness Day

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Students and staff from Barnsley College (@barnsleycollege) have taken part in a full day of activities focused on Mental Health and Homelessness Awareness, including virtual reality meditation classes.

The events, which took place both in-person and over Microsoft Teams, featured guest speakers that allowed students to catch a glimpse into the work of businesses and charities that assist vulnerable people.

The day also featured several virtual reality (VR) sessions hosted by staff in the College’s Discover Digital Room at the Old Mill Lane campus. These guided meditation lessons saw students using the latest VR technology, complete with headsets and screens, to explore and learn more about mindfulness techniques.

Beyond this was the official opening of the new Wellbeing Garden. Situated in the College’s Old Mill Lane campus, this is a quiet area where students can relax on comfortable seating, surrounded by plants and the sound of running water from a calming water feature.

Other events throughout the day included a presentation from life coach to the stars David Kneeshaw; a motivational speech from Barnsley College alumni, Tom Dickinson of Tom’s Talks; and a collaborative presentation on homelessness from Hannah Wolsey, owner of the Urban Emporiums café in Birmingham, and Carly Jones, CEO of Sifa Fireside, a Day Centre and Homeless Charity.

David Kneeshaw, owner of Barnsley-based training provider Better Minds, said:

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“It’s incredibly important to do these events with young people, as they are immensely capable but often unaware of their potential.

“My role is to help them connect with their potential and use key psychological tools to become independent, confident and manage their mental health.”

Lisa Kelly, Team Leader of Student Experience at Barnsley College and a key organiser of the virtual reality experience, added:“The mindfulness VR event was a great opportunity for students to explore mindfulness within a digital context, fully immersing them in this new experience. It allowed students to see how mindfulness can be linked to technology, engaging them in a way they have not looked at mindfulness or meditation before.

“It is important to run events like this, as it not only introduces our students to new experiences, but also equips them with knowledge about what is out there that can support their mental wellbeing.”

Barnsley College students have a wealth of health and wellbeing support available to them, including the award-winning Health and Wellbeing Centre, Wellbeing Garden and Wellbeing Pups.

The College is also part of the Association of College’s mental health charter, which places emphasis on creating an environment that constantly promotes the wellbeing and mental health of both staff and students.

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