Let's talk about Mental Health

This Student Wellbeing Awareness Week, I would like to place a spotlight on two life-changing mental health charities, Mind and Samaritans. Both charities are making efforts to tackle the rising issue of student mental health problems. Many students struggle with stress and anxiety for a variety of reasons such as academic, financial and social pressure which is why it is so crucial for Durham University to support these causes. According to ‘The Guardian,’ students’ mental health issues are at their worst ‘at the start of term, when students are adjusting to being away from home, or over the holidays, when the small number who remain on campus may feel lonely and isolated.’ The value of the work mental health charities do is immeasurable because they save lives every day. Minds’ statistics report that, in a year, 1 in 4 experience a mental health problem, which highlights why we need to make mental health a priority.

Durham students are actively involved in supporting mental health charities, for example, in 1973, three Durham students who were dedicated Samaritans’ volunteers set up Durham Nightline because they believed that students would feel more comfortable speaking with other students. Now, 46 years later, Durham Nightline is still thriving. This year it won the award for ‘Durham Student Union’s Student Group of the Year.’ Durham Nightline’s slogan is ‘All Night. All Term. All Ears,’ and the anonymous phone line is open from 9pm until 7am every day in order to help as many students as possible (the number is: 0191 334 6444). There is also a ‘Heads Up’ society at Durham University that works with ‘Student Minds,’ a national mental health charity based in the UK. The ‘Heads Up’ society raises awareness and campaigns for student mental health.


Samaritans’ aim is to create a world where fewer people die of suicide by offering 24-hour confidential support. Samaritans know the difference between simply being listened to, and being heard. Their committed volunteers are caring and empathetic so that callers know that they are never being judged. Through answering millions of calls, Samaritans help people feel less alone through their lowest times. Many Durham students train to be volunteers at Samaritans and raise money for the charity such as through Charity Balls and other events.


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Mind’s mission is to ‘empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem’ by providing them with advice and support. Mind also emphasizes the importance of having respect for anyone who has a mental health problem as one of Mind’s objectives is to combat stigma. Their website shares inspiring stories of people who are living with mental health problems because, like the Samaritans, Mind wants to show people that they are not alone. ‘Student Minds’ works with Mind to encourage students to take care of their mental health and provide advice for them such as how to manage stress.


Mental health charities carry out incredible, invaluable work. We all need to support and raise awareness about the importance of all that they do so they can continue to grow and improve. It is inspiring to see how many Durham students are involved in bolstering mental health charities and helping to place an emphasis on student mental health.

By Georgia Bower