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Mental Health Awareness 1

Take care of your well-being during Mental Health Awareness Week

It's Mental Health Awareness Week at York College & University Centre and we will be running a daily blog here to share how we are marking the event.

Day One

Mental Health Awareness Week is off to a splendid start! Our Well-being Team have been out in force offering advice and support to all students. Throughout the week, they will promote self-care as a way of managing anxiety, the national focus for this year’s event.

Today’s focus is self-care with the demonstration and provision to students of self-care calendars. York Mind has offered advice and support, and YO1 Radio also joined us to share students’ and staff’s perspective. Be sure to listen to Chris Marsden’s in the Afternoon Show for their interviews.

Tomorrow, there will be explanations and demonstrations of breathing techniques. Changing Lives will offer advice and support and will hold workshops in the Lecture Theatre at 10.45am and 3.00pm. We will also have the Public Living Room in Lounge on 1 providing a comfortable, relaxed space to chat to friends and play games.

More to follow . . . in the meantime, look out for the Well-being Team’s ‘Big Hand’ and stalls in the Atrium all week.

Day Two

We're continuing Mental Health Awareness Week here at York College & University Centre. Throughout the week, our fabulous Well-being Team we will be sharing, with our students and staff, a variety of techniques to help them take care of their mental health.

Presented in our atrium throughout the day, we have had a fantastic display focussing on 'The Calming Hand' breathing exercise. The structure, which was crafted by our talented construction students, explains how this simple breathing technique can help us to refocus and calm our anxieties.

We also had the pleasure of welcoming Changing Lives, York's Drug and Alcohol Service, who exhibited information on how they can support those with recovery and addiction and also how to reach out to them. Students and staff also had the opportunity of attending talks, led by the Changing Lives Team, in our lecture theatre. Changing Lives lead the drug and alcohol service for the City of York and help anyone who wants to be free from their dependency on drugs and/or alcohol. They can also help people who support those who are misusing substances including their family, children and carers.

Tomorrow's focus will be on grounding techniques, demonstrated by our Well-being Team in the atrium between 10am and 2pm.

Day Three

Have you every tried grounding techniques using your five senses?

Our staff and students have had the opportunity to do just that, as part of Mental Health Awareness Week 2023!

These simple exercises focus on our five senses: the things we can see, the things we can feel, the things we can hear, the things we can smell and the things we can taste. This can help us to focus on the right here and now.

Why not give it a try?

As part of day three of Mental Health Awareness Week, we also welcomed into York College & University Centre...

Papyrus | Mental Health Matters | The School Well-being Service

The companies displayed in the atrium and chatted with our staff and students about how they can offer us support with our mental health - Thank you for visiting!

Coming up tomorrow...

Dig out your green sequined ballgown because it's 'Wear it Green' day!

Day Four

Wear it Green Day!

There has been a sea of green at York College & University Centre today as we have been participating in Mental Health Foundation's 'Wear it Green' campaign.

Our Well-being Team have also been handing out green ribbons to staff and students throughout the day. The green ribbon is the international symbol of mental health awareness and the green-theme has really give us the opportunity to open up conversations about mental health in our community.

One in six people are affected by mental health problems every week. The money raised during Wear it Green Day will help The Mental Health Foundation conduct vital research, develop solutions and treatment as well as work towards their goal of prevention. If you are able to donate, please click here.

Day Five

As Mental Health Awareness week draws to a close today, we thought it important to share the words of Lou Baker, our Well-being Team Leader, and our students Eva Dudding and Mimi Browne, who we’d like to thank for speaking so openly on YO1 Radio about their views on issues such as exam pressure and the continued impact of the pandemic.

Lou reminded students that mental health support is available to students all year round, not just during this awareness week, and spoke of the importance of being able to disconnect from social media and the all-consuming fear of missing out.

She said: “Mental Health Awareness Week is all about allowing young people to really look at how they manage on a day-to-day basis in terms of looking after themselves. They are so focussed nowadays on the what ifs, the maybes and about catching up and keeping up with everybody else on social media.

“We want our young people to learn how they can be resilient in life and that they don’t have to be the same as everyone else and that they can have a focus on supporting their own needs. Anxiety and the common mental-health issues have increased in recent years.

“We’ve also seen that, after Covid, there was a spike in referrals and a spike in students struggling and not just with the common lower-level, mental-health issues, but with more complex issues as well. There has been an increase in students who feel they can’t disconnect from digital technology and social media, who have this all-consuming fear of missing out.

“We want our students to allow themselves that space for down-time and allow themselves to disconnect to focus on other things they enjoy other than being face down in a phone. We want students to know who we are and where to find us so we can let them know about all the services that are out there to support their mental health and wellbeing.”

Eva added: “It’s really important in this generation, with things like the news and political situations, to make people aware that their feelings and stresses are normal and providing coping mechanisms is really important. Over the past couple of years, especially being in Higher Education, there’s a lot of stress.

“We’re coming into exam season, and everyone is feeling stressed. There are tensions rising, so it’s about working hard but also knowing that it’s important that you make time for yourself.

“In education, there will always be pressure – teachers are under pressure and students are under pressure – but there are ways to outlet.”

Mimi pointed out: “It’s really important this week to provide help to young people suffering with mental illness but also to educate people who aren’t dealing with it so we can grow as a society and help people who are struggling and be more aware of what people need.

“As students, Lockdown put us behind quite a bit and more stress has been added on from those experiences because there was a long period of time when we weren’t at school and people’s exams were either missed or changed so, for A Level students, this could be the first exam they are taking because they missed GCSEs. I can imagine that heightens people’s anxiety and stress a lot and they might need extra help during this process.”

Chris Marsden of YO1 Radio with Well-being Team Leader, Lou Baker
Chris Marsden of YO1 Radio with York College students, Eva Dudding and Mimi Browne
How to access the Well-being Team at York College & University Centre

Our students are able to access the well-being service via our daily drop-in in the Student Experience Hub. Come along between 9.30am and 1.00pm to speak to the Well-being Team. You can also access support through your progress coach or by emailing the team at