To help us mark University Mental Health Day on the 4th March 2021, Saoirse Brennan, an RGU: Nightline Coordinator writes about student mental health, the importance of seeking help and the motto of the RGU: Nightline service.
One in four students suffer from mental health problems. Over the recent years, attitudes surrounding mental health have begun to change within society. People are beginning to speak more openly about mental health on a wider scale. However, there is still a long way to go to create an environment in which people feel comfortable speaking up and reaching out for support when they need it.
What is the RGU: Nightline?
RGU: Nightline is a student led, peer to peer listening service here to support fellow students in their time of need outside of university academic hours. We are here to let you know that you are not alone if you are struggling and that it is okay to ask for help.
During COVID, our phone lines are temporarily suspended, however; our instant messaging and email services are still operating on reduced hours from 8pm to midnight.Saoirse Brennan, RGU: Nightline Coordinator
What do we do?
Our motto is “Here to listen, not lecture”; we do not advise or judge, we are simply here to provide a listening ear and support you through whatever you would like to talk about. Our service is completely confidential and anonymous. Callers do not know the identity of listeners and vice-versa.Saoirse Brennan, RGU: Nightline Coordinator
You can contact our service about anything that is on your mind, no matter how big or small it may seem. We can support you if you need information about support services within or external to the university, we can just chat with you if you need someone to talk to, and we are trained to help support you through more serious conversations if that is what you need. That is the beauty of having a Nightline, even if you do not feel able to speak to your friends or loved ones about what is on your mind, you have this support available to you.
Sometimes it is easier to take that first step and to talk to a complete stranger rather than speaking to someone you know. For people feeling apprehensive about contacting us, our instant messaging service may be a less daunting option as a live chat over text offers you more time and privacy to think and gather your thoughts. Listeners will never rush you and will always give you space to talk to make sure that you feel heard and understood.
Student mental health during the pandemic
University can be a stressful time. Trying to balance university work, making new friends, fitting in and many other things is not always easy. It is essential that students have a safe space to turn to when they are overwhelmed.Saoirse Brennan, RGU: Nightline Coordinator
Being away from campus and friends and having to adapt to online working has presented its challenges for all of us. A recent study of 2,041 Scottish adults carried out during the pandemic identified that 47% of full-time students feel lonely. Feelings of hopelessness were reported by 24% of 25-34 year olds and 23% of 18-24 year olds. These age-groups were also significantly more likely to report suicidal thoughts and feelings compared to the general population. Now more than ever, services such as RGU: Nightline are vital in supporting people to take care of their mental health. Everyone has something which they struggle with, so it is important to be aware and to be kind, both to others as well as ourselves.
My experience volunteering with the RGU: Nightline
Nightline has been one of the best decisions I have made since coming to university. I work in the public facing side of the nightline, overseeing the daily running of the service and getting the word out about what it is we do. It is a challenging but rewarding role and I get a lot of satisfaction out of the job knowing that I am part of a larger movement to promote good mental health practices within the university. None of it would be possible without the hardworking listening volunteers that work behind the scenes.Saoirse Brennan, RGU: Nightline Coordinator
Everyone can do their bit to raise awareness of mental health, and foster a positive culture of talking and encouraging people to seek support early rather than waiting until they are in crisis. Something as small as asking your friends “Are you okay?” and really listening to their response will go a long way.
University Mental Health Day is happening on the 4th of March 2021 and together with RGU Peer support and other societies within the university, we will be putting together a day of events to help spread the word about talking about mental health. Keep an eye out on social media for what events will be on. Everyone is welcome and we hope to see you there!
Need to speak to a listener?
We are open 8pm to Midnight during COVID:
- Instant message: Visit www.rgu.nightline.ac.uk and click the big blue button on the right-hand side of the page.
- Anonymously email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- For more information about RGU:Nightline, contact email@example.com (not an anonymous email).
Follow us on social media for notifications of when we are open: @rgu_nightline (Instagram) @RGU: Nightline (Facebook) @RGU Nightline (Twitter), or visit our website and check the big blue button on the right-hand side of the page to see if our chats are live.
Counselling and Wellbeing Centre – RGU
If you are struggling and need to speak to someone then please reach out to RGU’s counselling and wellbeing team. The Student Counselling & Wellbeing Centre has Counsellors and a Student Wellbeing Advisor who can talk over issues that may be concerning you. We also provide online mental health self-help programmes 24/7 through our Silvercloud platform to help with Anxiety, Stress, Depression and Body Image.