Monday, 22nd March 2021
Guess who’s back?
Students! Staff! Everyone!
It’s been a while. The latest lockdown seemed to last much longer than others. Officially, it was 2081 hours from when the college shut for Christmas and when it reopened after lockdown. In that time you could have watched every episode of Friends… 24 times! You could have walked (at a brisk pace) for 6,243 miles. Or, if you were hungry you could have boiled 24,972 eggs one after another.
However, it is more likely you might have felt isolated, demotivated, depressed, uninspired, unfit or unhealthy during that time.
This week has been an eye-opener for me. We used this week to really re-engage with students, to try to inspire a sense of excitement and enjoyment at the idea of a small return towards normal (what does that even mean anymore?) life. It meant talking a little bit, but listening a lot. The one thing that came up time and again was students feeling like their mental health had been impacted by the lockdown.
Studies have shown that in the last 12 months, every single age category in the UK (yes, even toddlers) has shown an increase in ill mental health. We are all suffering. The NHS is being pushed too hard and is creaking under the strain, so a lot of people feel like they are not able to get access to the help they need. That is why I said ‘a lot of listening’.
Talking therapy is a recognition of multiple different types of mental health support available. But, I am not a professional, it isn’t my place to advise, but sometimes I can be a friendly ear if someone needs to talk. Sometimes I can suggest our students refer themselves to the counselling service. Sometimes just letting someone know that they are safe, they are seen, they are worth it, can be enough to help during troubled times.
As the week has passed, the students have also started to reach out to one another, offering a friendly shoulder to lean on, or an encouraging comment. It has been so rewarding to see and at times it has taken my breath away. There is such a capacity for care and friendship within people, especially at this formative age, that it is a pleasure to see it happening again after such a long break and when everyone was an icon on a computer screen.
So this week, I taught a little bit. I talked a little bit more. I listened a lot. And, my belief that we will improve and get through these difficult times increased more than I thought possible. So, thank you students, because you did that for me.
Now… not to put too fine a point on it…let’s get to work and have an amazing end of the academic year!
Resources in case you feel you need to reach out to someone:
– Ben, Sport & Public Services Lecturer