Staff and students at Gateshead College have been supporting Mental Health Awareness Week with a host of events and activities.
Principal Judith Doyle officially opened The Quiet Garden, an external space at the Baltic Campus for anyone who wishes to take time out and have some quiet time, relieve stress and foster wellbeing.
The garden has been developed by staff and students and forms part of the college’s Fit for Life programme aimed at supporting staff to be healthy and happy in life, both inside and outside of work.
Construction students were heavily involved in the creation of planters for the garden and also the refurbishment of the benches. The quiet haven is filled with herbs, plants and shrubs and catering and hospitality students will utilise the herbs grown within the garden to make their culinary creations. The college’s Project Choice students also got involved by doing some willow weaving.
As part of the week-long programme of activities, the college also launched its Mental Health Champions scheme which has involved thirteen members of staff volunteering to become champions and undergoing a training programme. Their role will see them supporting their colleagues to manage their mental health and well-being.
Nadine Hudspeth, Director of Marketing and Communications is one of the Mental Health Champions, she said: “Everyone’s mental health matters and talking about it makes an enormous difference. Our aim is to ensure Gateshead College is a place where you can speak openly without the fear of negative consequences; somewhere you can get the support you need when you need it, and a place where we look out for each other.
“Nobody should feel alone if they have a mental health problem and our champions scheme ensures there are people on hand to turn to who will listen and provide support.”
Gateshead College also has a dedicated resource that provides confidential support to people affected by mental health-related conditions and earlier this year, all staff completed a mental health awareness training course, which helps them spot the signs and symptoms of a friend or colleague in distress.
In addition, the college became the first FE college in the region to sign the Time to Change Employer Pledge back in February. This national initiative launched by two charities, Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, aims to encourage debate and tackle stigmas surrounding mental health.
Read Scott’s story as he shares his personal feelings about his battle with mental health – click here.