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Challenging the mental health struggle

Tuesday, 12 September 2017 10:10am

Silverline

Silverline is a student-led pilot, challenging how we all engage with mental health and wellbeing. It has a team of over 40 passionate and dedicated students from diverse backgrounds, working on various projects to open up the mental health conversation. With its Facebook page receiving 500+ likes in one day, it seems its inception may be timely.

The inaugural Silverline Festival, being held this weekend on 15-16 September, is all about exposing students to ways of wellbeing. The event is set to include thought-provoking TED style talks, some amazing workshops, music, yoga, fun and yes of course FOOD.

The festival will include both homegrown and internationally renowned speakers. They are all passionate about what they do and are excited to share their knowledge and experiences; one of these being Dr Damian Scarf, Senior Lecturer in Psychology who suffered from severe anxiety throughout undergraduate and into postgraduate study.

“I encourage both students and staff to engage in the festival. It isn’t just for individuals dealing with mental health issues or those wishing to improve their well-being, it is about bringing individuals together who want to be part of building a positive community on campus,” he emphasised.

“A lot of things that I did to deal with the anxiety made things worse,” he said. “For example, dealing with anxiety about grades by studying more and disconnecting from the people around me (i.e., my groups)”.

He went on to explain that during that time, he went to a place that he doesn’t want others to get to.

“Hopefully, talking about my story and how I came out of that dark place will be helpful. At the very least, it will let people going through something similar know that they are not alone,” he said.

Topics the festival is covering include mindfulness, healthy relationships, stress management, beating procrastination, suicide prevention, mental health, and drug and alcohol. Damian hopes that the festival will generate conversations around mental health and well-being.

“Talking about these things openly is very important and the Silverline Festival lets us talk about them in an environment that is supportive and inspiring. Talking about mental health can be heavy, but I think the festival environment will help to balance things out.”

The workshops being run also get the thumbs-up from Damian.

“I think these will be great. People won’t only hear personal stories from people like me but will also be able to attend workshops focusing on strategies to improve mental health and well-being, dealing with stress, and lots of other trigger points that may be worrying people”.

The festival isn't only aimed at students and, although the event topics are relevant to anyone, it’s also excellent professional development for students involved in mentoring, and for staff who have a strong student support/pastoral care focus.

“I encourage both students and staff to engage in the festival. It isn’t just for individuals dealing with mental health issues or those wishing to improve their well-being, it is about bringing individuals together who want to be part of building a positive community on campus,” he emphasised.

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