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Charlotte experienced mental health difficulties after a series of personal issues combined with the pressure of her final year at the University of Bristol, where she was studying Neuroscience.

The 23-year-old is sharing her story on World Mental Health Day [10 October] to give hope to others who are going through a tough period.

Charlotte, who now works at the University as a Teaching Technician, had experienced low-level mental ill health before coming to university in 2014 but was coping well until her final year when her brother fell ill, a family member passed away and her relationship broke down.

These life events coincided with her dissertation project and the looming prospect of her final exams. The cruel irony of learning how the brain works in situations of stress and overwhelm, and living the experience first-hand, was not lost on her.

Charlotte said: "Everything got on top of me. I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety and was prescribed medication aimed at helping this about eight weeks into my final year. I was feeling really overwhelmed and behind.

"I ended up writing my dissertation in four days and then realised I had no time left to revise for my final year exams. By March, I decided to defer my finals so that I could have longer to focus on them.”

Although she had a whole year to focus on her exams, Charlotte knew she needed to get better first and reached out to the University’s Counselling Service.

It was at one of the appointments that she spotted a leaflet for Healthy Minds – a programme run by the University's Sport Exercise and Health Department (SEH) that provides mentored physical activity opportunities to improve student mental health including use of; the gym, the pool, social sport and class-based activity.

Key components of the scheme include a professional fitness mentorto help and support participants to be active in a way that feels right for them; free access to facilities during their engagement in the initiative; a bespoke user-led plan that aims to foster new skills and interests, to promote recovery, and better enable people to stay well in the future.

Despite never having set foot in a gym before, Charlotte enrolled in the summer of 2017 and has never looked back.

She said: "I really didn't think I would get along with it. I have asthma and had never been sporty in my life, let alone entered a gym. I had to be shown how to use all the equipment.

"Despite my reservations, I soon came to love it and it gave me something to focus on. I literally went from zero to 100 in terms of loving exercise.

"Having regular catch-ups alongside the physical goals was invaluable. I started coming off my medication eight weeks into the programme. I cannot imagine not going to the gym now and feel much more positive about the future."

Charlotte completed the 12-week programme and saw significant improvements in her mental health.

Having ignited a passion for this kind of work, she applied for and was successfully accepted into a paid role with SEH a Student Sport Development Coordinator with a specific remit for developing Healthy Minds.

She was also able to pass her exams confidently and graduated in July 2018 with a high 2.1.

Charlotte's advice for students in a similar situation:

  • As everyone says, do not be afraid to seek support and try new things if one thing isn’t helping. For example, medication can help many people but wasn't the solution for me.
  • Try and get into a routine. I found the lack of routine associated with university in general to catalyse my depression, and only set on the road to recovery when the gym helped establish a regular routine. Try and spend nine to five in University, even if it’s just the library – sometimes it’s better to treat it as a full-time job.
  • Be honest with your doctors and counsellors and the University so they can accommodate you with things like extenuating circumstances to give you extensions etc.
  • Be careful with alcohol and caffeine consumption.
  • Always, always talk to someone - whether it’s your department, counsellor, a family member or housemate.

About Healthy Minds

The Healthy Minds programme was introduced by the University of Bristol in 2016 and has seen increased funding and support, now having helped over 400 students.

Participants report that their wellbeing improves by an average of around 30 per cent over the 12-week programme, and this is measured using same criteria the NHS employ to measure effectiveness of mental health treatments.

Peter Burrows, Physical Activity and Health Development Officer, leads the programme in the Centre for Sport, Exercise and Health.

He said: "We're really proud of what students are able to achieve working with us on Healthy Minds. Physical activity is a powerful tool to improve mental health outcomes and one that has whole host of associated benefits when compared to existing treatment options.

"We've created and environment that reduces the barriers that mental ill health creates in the context of activity and sport, enabling students with these concerns to reap the benefits and go on to thrive in other areas of their lives.

"The best thing for me about the scheme is seeing amazingly talented young people who, given a small amount of guidance and support, are able to take charge of their own recovery in a self-directed sustainable way.

"Charlotte is a standout example of everything that is good about the scheme. I feel really privileged to be a small part of her journey and would assert that all her successes have come directly from her own hard work, bravery and commitment and that for me is what's really powerful about Healthy Minds."

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Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In May 2020, FE News had over 120,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.


We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.


FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

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