Healthcare students given a voice in raising awareness of mental health

Swansea University healthcare students are delighted that they have been given the opportunity to organise a conference in May which will raise awareness of mental health issues.

Healthcare conference

The Department of Nursing within the Swansea University College of Human and Health Sciences has given the students the chance to run the conference called Voices Against Stigma: Raising Awareness of Mental Health which will take place on 11th May 2015, during the UK’s Mental Health Awareness Week. The aim of the conference is to promote and raise awareness of mental health, and reduce the stigma attached to mental illness.

The student-led event will host 300 second-year students studying nursing, midwifery and paramedic science.

Jo Gwilym, a BSc (Hons) Adult Nursing student who sits on the conference committee, said:

“I have gained a variety of skills over the years in managing and organising large events to raise awareness of different topics.  I felt that I could use these skills to benefit the group to achieve a professional, worthwhile, learning conference.

“Being involved with the conference has improved my student experience as it has helped me to focus on other organisations that work towards the same goals as we do.  It is an excellent networking opportunity, and has increased my confidence in dealing with other professionals.

“I’ve gained organisational, time management, and attention to detail skills, as well as gaining a greater awareness of mental health issues, and greater knowledge of organisations that can help service users/patients.”

Swansea University Nursing Lecturer Sarah Tait has been supporting the student group.  She said:

“Mental health problems and mental illness is very common. One in four people will be affected by mental illness and one in six of the UK population who are working will be affected by stress, depression, anxiety in any one year (Time to Change Wales, 2008).

“There are stereotypical views within society about mental illness and how it affects individuals, with the view that all people affected are dangerous and violent. This is far from true.

“Campaigns such as Time to Change are challenging societies’ views and making efforts to change attitudes in respect of mental health, which is the main aim of this conference and this is why it will be invaluable to the student delegates.

“In addition to this, the fact that this conference is student-led and interdisciplinary will also serve to fulfill wider learning opportunities, and will contribute to the student’s skills and ultimately their employability.”

The idea for the conference came from an earlier successful Voices Against Stigma event, which was organised by the same student group and raised money for the charity, Swansea Mind, in November 2013.

Picture: (left to right) Sarah Tait (Lecturer) and Jo Gwilym (student)