A central London college put on a successful event last month as part of Mental Health Awareness Week.
On 12 May, Westminster Kingsway College (WKC)’s Kings Cross centre put on an event called ConnectFest in line with this year’s theme of loneliness.
In a post-pandemic world, mental health struggles such as social anxiety, anxiety and loneliness have become more common among young people as well as adults.
Lucy Isaacs, mental health and wellbeing lead at the college said: “Because of the pandemic, resources externally such as adult mental health services are under so much pressure and their waiting lists are crazy.
“Actually ensuring that we have mental health support within an educational setting ensures that students are still getting the support they need.”
The mental health team at WKC therefore offer one-to-one support meetings with students, a listening and advisory service and in-college counselling service providing short term therapeutic counselling support to students who are struggling.
This has a two or three week waiting list which is much shorter in comparison with external organisations.
They also work with online wellbeing platform KOOTH who frequently offer workshops to students around exam stress, resilience young men’s mental health.
With people transitioning between ‘normal life’, long periods of isolation in lockdown and then back to being in busy environments – making friends and socialising again has proven to be more difficult.
ConnectFest was therefore a chance for students and staff to come together and build meaningful relationships with one another, helping to support loneliness within the college.
Throughout the week, the college worked with a range of external organisations who held various workshops around mental health that students engaged with.
The mental health team at the college heard back from students about how they connected with others.
They found that students connected with one another through music, sports, playing games and sharing interests – just a few of the things that were offered to students at ConnectFest among other things such as an ice cream van, a candy floss stand, drinks, live music and a zen bus.
Students learned about how they can connect with others effectively and about strategies they can use to manage their emotions.
By raising awareness on loneliness, students may be able to manage their mental health better if they feel lonely in the future.