University Marks World Mental Health Day


Students and staff yesterday manned mental health stalls at the St John's and City campuses offering information, while a "yarnbombing" event saw people given hundreds of specially decorated yarn hearts on both campuses.

There was also a public workshop and lecture.

Inspired by the Peyton Heart Project in the USA, the colourful hearts, largely handmade by staff, were displayed at various campus locations and at Hereford University Centre Library and Resource Centre.

Each carried a tag with a special positive message on one side and contact details for support agencies in their area on the other.

The idea was that people could take the heart and tag home with them or share it as they wished.

Steve Wilding, Clinical Educator in the Institute of Health and Society, who helped run the day, said: "The yarnbombing was very successful. People were positively moved when they chose the heart they wanted and read the positive message."

Speakers from the University's Institute of Health and Society lead a workshop on mental health at The Hive, the University and Worcestershire County Council's joint library.

Professor of Early Intervention and Psychosis Jo Smith, who spearheaded the yarnbombing project, gave a public talk at University partner Hereford and Ludlow College to an audience of around 130.

Prof Smith, who works in the Institute of Health and Society and is a Chartered Clinical Psychologist, outlined the recommended "five-a-day" approach to improve mental wellbeing, with simple actions people can do to improve their emotional health to boost their mood and make them more resilient.

Recommendations under the five-a-day are to invest time in developing connections with people around them, learn something new or set a personal challenge, be active, take notice of the world around you and how you are feeling and give to others, perhaps through voluntary work, helping others or small acts of kindness.

She also pointed people to support and resources they can turn to if their mood and mental wellbeing come under strain.

Prof Smith said: "Looking after our mental health is as important as looking after our physical health.

"We need to develop strategies in our lives to improve our emotional health to boost mood, build coping resilience and experience overall life enjoyment.

"This can include taking care of your physical health, finding activities that you enjoy and building up protective factors, like strong relationships, a healthy lifestyle, and coping strategies for managing stress and negative emotions."