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Student View - Managing Your Wellbeing at University

Introduction

Hi. I’m Eve. I’m 20, a third-year Law student at UoM, and I have a mental health condition. There’s so much I wish I could tell my first-year self about managing my condition around University, so I thought I’d share some tips with you! Here’s how to manage your wellbeing at Uni.

Social life

Don’t worry about being ‘cool’

  • I spent lots of time in my first year of University trying to seem cool. I felt the pressure to socialise rather than spending some much-needed time alone, because I didn’t want to miss out on anything or lose potential friends. As much as socialising is great fun, don’t worry so much about constantly being around others especially if you’re an introvert who likes time alone. Good friends will understand the need to balance socialising and resting, and won’t make you feel bad about it, either!

Do what you want to do

  • A healthy social life will look more active for some, and less active for others. It might involve sports, or chess, or computer games – no two people are the same! If you prefer watching a film to playing football, choose accordingly. There is a society for everything at Uni, so take advantage of this opportunity to meet like-minded people and make good friends. If you love classic films, go to film society and skip football. And, don’t make apologies for it!

Try new things

  • If you’ve never tried needlework before, or photography, or creative writing – but you’ve always wanted to give it a go, now is the time! University is about dipping your toe into the water of adult life; and making your own choices. Trying new stuff is great fun, and you might develop a new interest you’d never have experienced if you hadn’t tried.

Look after yourself

  • Eat a balanced diet, exercise, and get enough sleep. Have a routine you follow each day and make looking after yourself part of it. This will help promote a stable mood, which is so important especially in Uni. You’ll enjoy social interactions so much more when you feel good. Something I’ve learned is that skipping an event to re-charge and rest will make the next event you do attend even more enjoyable.

Give it time

  • Uni is a huge transition. It is often the first time in your life you’ve lived away from home, not seen your friends’ every-day, and this first taste of independence can be very hard to swallow. It’s normal to feel awkward at first. Just remember – everyone feels the same way, and this alien territory will be your new normal before you know it.

Academics

Take it slow

  • Assessments and deadlines can be very scary. Days at sixth form are much more structured and controlled than at University, and sometimes independent learning can feel so overwhelming and can trigger anxiety. You will get better as you progress on your programme, and you don’t need to ace your degree in your first semester or even your first year. Your academic performance isn’t a measure of character or intelligence. You got onto your course for a reason – remind yourself of this in moments of doubt.  

Schedule

  • In first year, I worked excessively and I burnt myself out, which had a really negative impact on my mental health. If you plan your deadlines, assignments and exam dates onto a calendar and work for a specific amount of time a day over a longer period, you’ll be doing more than enough. This will also leave plenty of time for self-care.

Speak to someone

  • When I first started my degree, I didn’t even consider informing the School of Law of my mental health condition – that felt like asking for special treatment. It was only in my second year that I reached out for support; informing the Disability Advisory Support Service (DASS) of my diagnosis and difficulties. I wish I’d done it sooner. UoM wants to support you. DASS offers confidential advice, additional learning resources and can put measures in place to help you perform to the best of your ability such as podcasts, deadline extensions, and exam support. If I could go back, I would have been upfront about my condition from the start. UoM don’t consider mental health conditions to be weaknesses, and neither should you.

Most importantly...

Be kind to yourself!

  • UoM doesn’t consider diagnosis as a part of your identity. Mental illness is something they work with you to manage to maintain a normal, happy life. So, don’t be ashamed. Prioritise your mental wellbeing when applying to a University in the same way you would other factors such as course modules, accommodation costs, and campus facilities. Ask questions - do you have a counselling service, a DASS department, what’s your view on mental health in the student population? And, when you get to Uni, be open and honest and they will support you. Remember - you deserve to enjoy and fully participate in University just the same as any other student, and with patience and self-awareness, you will lead a happy ‘student life’.

Below are some resources that help me maintain good mental wellbeing during Uni:

  • https://www.nhs.uk/apps-library/my-possible-self/ - This app allows you to track your mood, then collates the data and provides insight on any patterns in your moods (helps identify triggers). Also lets you focus on different topics which might be helpful to you, such as overload, low mood, etc.
  • https://www.nhs.uk/apps-library/student-health-app/- Student Health App. Includes tips and resources for physical and mental health support, actions to take, self-care tips, and resources for emergencies. Turn to this in a crisis or to inform you about the link between lifestyle and mental wellbeing.
  • https://moodspace.org/ - A great app designed to change your thought patterns and improve your mood based on CBT strategies. Includes small tasks to be done once a day to improve wellbeing.
  • https://www.elefriends.org.uk/ - A lovely platform where you can share stories and experiences and connect with others who have mental health conditions. Helpful for when you’re feeling lonely.


 

Wait a minute - that doesn't sound like business?!

by YPU Admin on January 24, 2020, Comments. Tags: AMBS, business, marketing, Mental Health, PhD, psychology, and university

Introduction

Hey everyone! I’m Charlotte and I’m a 1st year PhD student currently studying at Alliance Manchester Business School at the University of Manchester. My current research is focused on student mental health and help-seeking behaviours.

“Wait a minute”, I hear you say, “that doesn’t sound like business”.

And at first glance it doesn’t. I’ve had many questioning looks when I tell people I’m a marketing student studying student mental health, but that’s one of the best things about my PhD. I get to combine my passion for understanding and improving mental health with my interests in marketing and consumer behaviour.

So, sit back and I’ll tell you all.


In-depth

Before starting my PhD I studied for my undergraduate degree in Psychology and a master’s degree in Marketing. At first you might think Psychology and Marketing don’t really go together, but I’ve always been interested in why we think and behave in particular ways, and that’s exactly what Marketers try to do.

After my master’s degree I worked for 2 years at a digital marketing agency just outside of Manchester managing the day-to-day marketing activities of my clients including; branding, design for digital or print promotions, advertisements, copywriting and campaign management. As much as I enjoyed working in marketing, after a couple of years I could hear university calling my name once more. So, I applied for my PhD and the rest, as they say, is history!

But what exactly do I do?

Mental health has been studied extensively, with particular focus in areas such as health, psychology and sociology. Approaching student mental health from a marketing perspective, my research aims to better understand the motivations and decision making processes that encourage individuals to seek help for their mental health problems - or indeed why certain people avoid seeking help. By understanding these decisions better, I hope that my research can have an impact in improving the provision of university support services (and the promotion of these services) to facilitate help-seeking behaviour.

As I’m only in my first year, my work mainly involves developing my research skills and reading more about the different perspectives and disciplines researching student mental health. As a qualitative researcher, with an interest in behaviour, I’ve never been convinced by statistics alone. I’m much more interested in how individual’s create meaning as part of their experiences. Qualitative research allows me to gain a richer interpretation of experiences and behaviours, and how people interpret these behaviours. One of the best things about studying for my PhD is that as I read and learn more about my topic, my research questions change and develop.

At University, for both my undergraduate and master’s degree, the biggest challenge for me was always trying to work out what I wanted to do at the end of it. Now, studying for my PhD I hope to continue researching and stay in academia to teach the marketers and researchers of the future. It hasn’t been a straight road, but then your career doesn’t have to be - find something you enjoy learning about and career ideas start to fall into place (even if you don’t realise it at first)!

A bit further...

If you’re interested in finding out more about careers in Psychology, visit: https://www.bps.org.uk

For more information on careers in Marketing, visit: https://www.cim.co.uk

If you’d like to find out more about the courses on offer at the University of Manchester, you can visit the links here:

Psychology: https://www.bmh.manchester.ac.uk/study/psychology/

Business and Marketing: https://www.manchester.ac.uk/study/undergraduate/courses/2020/03528/bsc-management-marketing/

The book that started to bridge the gap between Psychology and Marketing for me was Robert Cialdini’s ‘Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion’ https://books.google.co.uk/books/about/Influence.html?id=5dfv0HJ1TEoC

The Drum is a website dedicated to looking at the latest trends and news in the Marketing industry. You can take a look around the website here: https://www.thedrum.com

Or if you want to know more about the current research taking place across the UK focussing on Student Mental Health, King’s College London (KCL) created a research network called SMaRteN dedicated to improving understanding of student mental health in higher education. You can visit the website here:

https://www.smarten.org.uk

 

My Journey into Mental Health Research

Introduction

Hi everyone! I’m Jess and I’m a PhD researcher at the Division of Neuroscience and Experimental Psychology at the University of Manchester. I’m in my second year of a 4-year biosocial PhD programme – a programme that specialises in research in both biological and social sciences. My research specifically looks at how social support affects mental health, whilst taking into account different factors. Those factors include the structure and function of the brain, wealth and education, and personality type. 

In Depth…

I have always been interested in why people act, think and feel the way they do, which is why I decided to study Psychology at university. We learned about different areas of psychology, such as developmental, social and cognitive psychology, but I had a strong interest in clinical and biological psychology – mental health and the brain. Like many people who studied psychology, at first I considered becoming a clinical psychologist, so I worked for a mental health service provider for a couple of years after my degree. 

However, I realised that my passion lies in research, so I went on to complete my Master’s degree in Edinburgh and then (after a short detour of work and travel in Japan) on to start my PhD in Manchester. I wanted to pursue a PhD in order to become an expert in a research topic and to contribute to the body of knowledge that has the potential to impact the lives of many people. This is important in the field of mental health, as the majority of people in their lifetime will struggle with their mental health, and we need to understand the biological and social mechanisms behind this and the best way to help. 

A bird's eye view of different sections of the brain from top to bottom from an MRI scan.

Currently, my day-to-day life is very varied. For my research, I am conducting a systematic literature review, which involves trying to find all the research there is on a particular topic and combining it all together. Alongside this, I teach on the undergraduate Psychology course, deliver workshops to schools and write my own blog about psychology and neuroscience research. This is one of the parts I like most about doing a PhD; you have the opportunity to get involved with different areas and build skills and confidence outside of your niche research topic. After my PhD, I want to continue to work in research, but I am also attracted to the idea of working in policy and science communication. I want my work to have meaningful and far-reaching consequences, which could be achieved by any of these career paths. Luckily I have some time to think about it before I finish my PhD!

Going Further…

If you want to find out more about different aspects of psychology, check out the links below:

-  Interested in studying Psychology? Here is the website for Psychology at the University of Manchester, which gives more information about the course and the requirements: https://www.manchester.ac.uk/study/undergraduate/courses/2020/00653/bsc-psychology/

-  Wondering what you can do with a Psychology degree? The British Psychology Society (BPS) has some careers information here: https://careers.bps.org.uk/

-  Keen to learn more about psychology and neuroscience research? Check out my very own blog: https://brainsinaspace.home.blog/ or my own academic Twitter:https://twitter.com/JStepanous

-  Want to learn more about your mental health? This website has videos and articles on different topics: https://teenmentalhealth.org/learn/

-  Curious about what the different parts of the brain are? You can download this free, interactive app for your phone: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/3d-brain/id331399332



 

Children's mental health and wellbeing

by YPU Admin on March 29, 2019, Comments. Tags: children, Education, Humanities, Mental Health, psychology, SEED, teaching, and wellbring

Introduction

Hi, my name is Kim Petersen and I’m a second year PhD student at the Manchester Institute of Education (MIE).

My PhD research focusses on primary school children’s mental health and wellbeing. I am interested in looking at lots of different aspects of children’s mental health and wellbeing (e.g. feeling sad, angry, happy, enjoying  life etc.) and finding common patterns of mental health and wellbeing. I want to find out:

1) what causes the different patterns of mental health 

2) whether behaviour programmes used in schools affect children’s mental health 

I hope this information will help us to find ways to improve children’s mental health and wellbeing in the future.

In Depth…

How did I get here?

After my A-levels I went to Glasgow University to do a degree in Psychology. I went on to work for a charity, supporting children with different neurological conditions, like autism spectrum disorder. Then, I did a PGCE teacher training qualification and worked as a primary school teacher. While working as a teacher I became really interested in children’s mental health and wellbeing and what schools could do to try and improve it. So, I decided to go back to  university to do research in this area. First, I did a Master’s degree in Psychology and Education and then I applied to do a research PhD. I didn’t always know that I would end up doing this, but my experiences and interests sort of led me here, and I really enjoy what I am doing.

What is mental health?

Mental health is a term we have all heard of, but what does it actually mean? Sometimes, when people talk about ‘mental health’, they are only talking about mental health disorders, like depression or schizophrenia. Today, many researchers, and others, think that mental health is more than this. As well as mental health difficulties, there are also positive aspects of mental health like feeling good and satisfied with your life. There is a widely held statistic that ‘1 in 4 people have mental health problems’. However, 4 out of 4 people have mental health because 4 out of 4 people have brains! In other words mental health is something we all have and we should focus on helping everyone gain better mental health and wellbeing.

My research

I am investigating mental health in this broad way, which includes both mental health problems and positive aspects of mental wellbeing. We collected information about children’s mental health and wellbeing by giving surveys to around 3000 primary school children and their teachers. We also collected other information about the children, like whether they were male or female, how they felt about their school, their relationships with other children, their school grades, and whether they had taken part in a school behaviour programme.

To make sense of all the information collected I use a computer programme to help me to find patterns in the data. For example, I can use the programme to see if there are some groups of children who show very similar patterns of mental health. I can then look at what other characteristics these children have. For example, if I found a group of children that had no mental health problems but felt very happy and satisfied with life, I could find out if those children were more likely to be male or female, have better relationships with their friends, or have taken part in a school behaviour programme, compared to other groups. The aim is to identify what might be important for good mental health and wellbeing so that we can try to improve children’s mental health in the future.

Why is this kind of research important?

Improving children’s mental health has been highlighted as an important issue in the UK. The government has said that schools have an important role to play in doing this. Research is needed to show what schools can do to try and improve children’s mental health and wellbeing.

Going further

Find out more about children’s mental health and wellbeing on these charities’ webpages:

https://youngminds.org.uk

https://www.childrenssociety.org.uk/back-to-school/childrens-well-being-and-mental-health

https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/a-to-z/c/children-and-young-people

The Good Childhood Report provides information about what children and young people say about their own mental health and wellbeing:

https://www.childrenssociety.org.uk/sites/default/files/good-childhood-report-2018-youth-summary.pdf

This is a summary of a recent government proposal for how to improve children’s mental health and wellbeing:

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/transforming-children-and-young-peoples-mental-health-provision-a-green-paper/quick-read-transforming-children-and-young-peoples-mental-health-provision

Here is a link to the Manchester Institute of Education so you can see what courses we offer and what research we do:

https://www.seed.manchester.ac.uk/education/

 

Health Economics and Research into Poverty

by YPU Admin on February 18, 2016, Comments. Tags: Economics, Health, Health Outcomes, Mental Health, Physical, Poverty, Research, and UoM

INTRODUCTION

My name is Julius Ohrnberger and I am a first year PhD researcher in Health and Development Economics. My A-levels were in English, German, Mathematics and History. After graduating from high school in Germany, I studied Economics for my first degree at Heidelberg University in Germany. I then did a Masters in Economics and Development Economics in 2014 at the Free University in Amsterdam. Prior to my PhD, I worked for a year as researcher in Health Economics for the University of Manchester.

In winter 2015, I started my PhD in Health Economics and Development Economics at the Centre for Health Economics at the University of Manchester. In my research, I aim to analyse the effect of cash transfers on health outcomes of poor families living in developing countries. I furthermore want to understand how the effect on health has potential in reducing poverty in the long-run.

IN DEPTH

Imagine that you have to live on less than £1 a day: £1 for food, clothing, the bus ticket, your mobile phone bills, etc. Imagine that public services like the GP, hospitals or your school are of very poor quality and there is far too few for all people, and you have to pay for it out of your pocket with the £1 a day. These are the challenges the global poor living in the developing world every day.

I want to understand in my research how regular cash transfers to this group of people affect their mental health and physical health outcomes. Furthermore, how the effect on mental and physical health relates to long term poverty alleviation. Mental health is a state of emotional well-being. A mental health outcome can be how often you were sad or felt restless the past week. Physical health is defined as a state of physical well-being. A physical health outcome can be your blood pressure or the number of health days in the past month. It is very likely that more income through the cash transfer has an effect on both the mental health and the physical health. Improving either is essential in helping the poor to improve their lives and especially to help them to leave a state of poverty.

I look in my research at three different countries namely Indonesia a South-East Asian country, South Africa a sub-Saharan African country, and Mexico a Latin American country. I use large datasets for each of these countries. The data entails information about the mental health outcomes of the poor people such as depression or anxiety, physical health outcomes such chronic diseases or blood pressure, and if the person received a cash transfer. The same poor people are observed and interviewed over several years and thus it is possible to identify changes in health and poverty due to the cash transfers.

My research is important as it is a unique project which sets poverty into the light of both mental and physical health outcomes. Mental health is a strongly neglected topic in international development policies, but mental health problems are one of the leading causes of illnesses worldwide and especially in the developing world. My research seeks to immediately address this gap, and to provide an analysis which could be important for future development policies centred on mental health.


GOING FURTHER

For updates on my research activities, follow me on Twitter: @JWEO_O

To get more information about mental health in developing countries, visit: http://www.who.int/mental_health/evidence/en/

And http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2010/may/10/mental-illness-developing-world

For information what we are up to in the Manchester Centre for Health Economics, visit our website: http://www.population-health.manchester.ac.uk/healtheconomics/ or follow us on twitter: @HealthEcon_MCR