Putting Welfare In The Spotlight

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In light of the upcoming Leeds University Union WelFair event on the 25th February, we got to know Mind Matters Society

Last week I sat down to speak with two Mind Matters peer support group coordinators, Callum and Rachel, about the help their society can provide to people who may be struggling at university, and about their plans for this year so far. 

Mind Matters, in their own words, is a student-led society that aims to support students and open up the conversation around mental health. The society does this through a combination of events, presentations and, most importantly, their weekly peer support group.

The society is free to join and holds many events throughout the year. For example, a colourful leg warmer hike in collaboration with BEAT, the eating disorder awareness society, which raised over £230 for charity; they also help out in the local community, delivering presentations to Leeds secondary school students about mental health in order to reduce the stigma around the topic.

In addition to these, Callum and Rachel want to highlight the society’s peer support group, which is held every Monday from 6pm – 7pm in the LUU advice room and gives students a safe, confidential space to talk about their feelings. These sessions are entirely voluntary and based on participant’s comfort levels and boundaries, so you don’t have to talk if you don’t want to. Although they are non-advisory, the volunteers do receive some training and are able to signpost students to any further help if needed.

Primarily, the groups are there to help people to open up about their mental health and wellbeing in a safe, inclusive environment surrounded by empathetic people with similar experiences.

Mind Matters are not only looking to raise the awareness of these important sessions, in order to help more students, but also to gain more brilliant volunteers with a passion for helping others. Callum and Rachel both started as volunteers who took up more active roles in the society as they both really resonated with its goals and enjoyed seeing students supporting students.

One volunteer said that the sessions were “eye opening in terms of how much comfort other students have talking to someone in a similar position”, and that she “came to appreciate her role as the first step people take to receiving help”. If this is something that might appeal to you, then feel free to drop Mind Matters an email or message. 

Going forward, the society has 4 goals for this year: to raise awareness about homelessness and mental health through liaising with local homelessness charities, help to create a more inclusive environment and highlight mental health within minority ethnic groups, work with the NHS locally, such as supplying the LGI Children’s ward with Christmas hampers as they did last year and finally, raising eating disorder awareness in conjunction with BEAT.

With regards to events, Mind Matters are hosting a music, dance and poetry night planned for the 15th March at the LS6 Café, raising money for suicide-prevention charity Papyrus and YoungMinds. They will also have a stall at the welfare fair in the LUU foyer on the 25th February, so catch them there if you’d like to talk.

If you enjoy helping others, and want to be part of the important support sessions, or even just have any questions, you can email Mind Matters at luumindmatters@gmail.com. For information about events and the support group, head over to their Facebook page at LUU Mind Matters Society. Where they post about upcoming events and are happy to receive any messages about volunteering or advice on mental health.