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Growing the Black Dog Campaign at the University of Oxford by Rebecca Williams
Posted by SANE
6th Mar 2019

Hello! My name is Rebecca and I’m currently a second year in Experimental Psychology at Oxford University. In my spare time here at uni I enjoy being a student ambassador, running welfare events, singing in operettas and being the director of SANE’s Oxford University branch of the Black Dog Campaign.

I am extremely passionate about raising awareness of mental health issues. I believe that talking is something so simple that we can all do to change the lives of those suffering from a mental health disorder. From fear of being deemed ‘lazy’ or ‘a burden’, to individuals not seeking help because they ‘aren’t suicidal’, I am always astounded to see the stigmas that permeate what we all think we know about mental health and the impact they have on our lives.

It is with this mantra that I entered SANE as a fresher in my first term at Oxford and by the start of my second year I started to take over the running of the educational workshops we facilitate around the colleges here. I spend some of my vac getting into contact with the amazing welfare officers at each college and organising workshops for the upcoming term on anxiety, depression and psychosis. The team of facilitators takes over in 0th week (the start of term) and we get the discussions flowing.

Our emphasis is on talking rather than lecturing: we want students to engage with us and tell us what they have heard about mental health so we can tackle any stigmas head on. We discuss the differences between mental illness and mental wellbeing so that we can start to understand how depression is not just sadness and anxiety is not just caution. We talk about how OCD isn’t just cleanliness, schizophrenia isn’t split-personality and bipolar doesn’t make someone dangerous. By establishing these differences we hope to contribute to a growing level of mental health literacy amongst students, allowing young people to have a better idea of when and how to seek help for themselves or others.

It has been an honour to have the opportunity to talk about an issue I’m so passionate about to a wide range of children, students and adults alike and I can only hope one I will continue to hold far into the future.

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