By Kelly Waldorf, Education Outreach Worker at Jami
Managing our wellbeing within a pressurised academic and social environment is a challenge faced by many young adults on campus.
Since the beginning of this academic year our Education Team, alongside University Jewish Chaplaincy (UJC) and Union of Jewish Students (UJS), has been working to build throughout the the UK, facilitating mental health educational initiatives with students and promoting positive wellbeing. Campus activities have explored the relationship between Judaism and mental health, LGBT+ mental health, wellbeing and self-care, and mental health awareness.
We’ve had some incredible conversations with students, empowering them to become more confident when talking about mental health. Many students we spoke to have gained more knowledge around getting support and on how to look after their own mental wellbeing.
Our Student Wellbeing Reps in Leeds, Birmingham and Bristol have been instrumental in ensuring that we are creating innovative educational initiatives and events to promote wellbeing. Here’s a look at what’s been happening…
Training and Support
We’ve trained students to become Mental Health First Aid Higher Education Champions. We are delighted with their enthusiasm and dedication to learning about mental health and how they can be of support to someone in a crisis.
Exploring wellbeing with JSoc students in Leeds has brought to the surface a diverse range of self-care tools that students can integrate into their daily lives and next week we’re excited to take part in UJS ‘s campaign on combatting student loneliness.
If you’re a University student in Leeds, join us next Thursday for a pottery painting evening and a discussion on combatting loneliness in the student community.
Not only have our Leeds reps been creating relaxing spaces for students to practice yoga and gain an insight into mindfulness, we were also pleased to hear about the signposting they’ve been doing. This proves that peer to peer relationships are vital when it comes to encouraging students to reach out for support and is one of the highlights of the Student Wellbeing Rep project so far.
“The value and importance of empowering students to work with students (Peer Leadership) is core to the values of UJS. Working together with Chaplaincy and Jami to ensure that support expands beyond the students into the relevant university and wider services has been vital to the support given and received by Jewish students up and down the country”, says Arieh Miller, CEO, UJS
We have enjoyed exploring various intersections of identity and their unique relationships with mental health. A discussion on the relationship between Judaism and Mental Health with Manchester Jewish students showed how interlinked the two really are.
Faith and Current Affairs Related Events
In recognising how intrinsically linked faith and mental health are, we joined the Interfaith Mental Health Panel at University of East Anglia (UEA) organised by Headucate: University of East Anglia, alongside UEA J-SOC and UEA Islamic Society, UEA Hindu Society NHSF, PENSA UEA and UEA Buddhist Society. The most powerful takeaway from the discussion was that it was very clear to see how a focus on mental health is integral across all religious affiliations.
Facilitating a Mental Health Awareness session with Cambridge JSoc committee and their members encouraged students to engage in the mindset of embedding wellbeing into the fabric of their JSoc. Subsequently, students at Cambridge organised an open dialogue to discuss how their JSoc can become more accessible to all students.
We were thrilled to have been able to join Cambridge JSoc’s panel on ‘What it means to be both Jewish & LGBT+’ and how those identities may impact our wellbeing. Our open and honest discussion with students and members of the Jewish community generated invaluable conversation that will ultimately improve the lives of LGBT+ Jews.
Collaborations with Public Figures and other Organisations
In the West Midlands, our student wellbeing rep in Birmingham has been busy organising events including ‘Exploring LGBT+ wellbeing’ with KeshetUK and hosting Luciana Berger to who spoke candidly about her experiences working as a mental health campaigner. She also discussed how students can get involved in mental health activism and look out for each other. Students learned a lot from hearing Luciana talk, specifically how “mental health is slowly getting higher on the political agenda.” We are excited to be working with Birmingham students on the UJS campaign launching next week.
Around 50 miles east of Birmingham we have been working with students in Nottingham across both universities. We ran a session on Mental Health Awareness where we welcomed The University of Nottingham’s Counselling Service so that students could learn more about that service.
“Through partnerships like ours with UJS and Jami, students have been able to raise the flag for good mental health and better education on campus this year and we really look forward to seeing more students take the lead in this area” says Josh Gershuny, Development and Projects Manager, University Jewish Chaplaincy.
We have been working closely with University students in London since the start of the academic year. We started to explore stress management with Kings College JSoc, as well discussing with students how they can utilise the Head Room Café in Golders Green to improve their wellbeing.
We facilitated the space to have an incredibly enriching conversation with University Arts London students across various colleges to delve into the relationship between Judaism and Mental Health through imagery and visual means in a relaxed environment.
Last week we organised an LGBT+ mental health event with UAL JSoc for London students in our Head Room Café, in aid of LGBT+ History Month and saw students attending from University of Hertfordshire, Middlesex University etc.
Mental Health Awareness Shabbat
For our annual Mental Health Awareness Shabbat, we joined the Central London Student Friday Night Dinner attended by students all over London including many international students. We explored mental health more broadly and had an extremely valuable conversation on the relationship between where students live and how that can impact their wellbeing and student experience. We also heard from the Rebbetzin of Central United Synagogue who works with young people.
Our Education team planned a spectacular Mental Health Awareness Shabbat in Nottingham where we heard from an inspirational therapist with lived experience of mental illness and what it might mean to proactively look after your wellbeing at university. It was a pleasure to spend Shabbat with Eli and Shevi Grunewald, the Nottingham University Jewish Chaplains and Mendy N Brocha Lent from Nottingham Chabad.
Our student wellbeing rep in Bristol organised a dinner with the Chaplaincy to introduce herself and her role which was very successful. She also organised a football match for male students to raise awareness of men’s mental health and how physical activity is good for our wellbeing. We are excited to be working with Bristol students on the UJS campaign.
If you’re a university student between the ages of 18-25 or a teacher/educator, contact [email protected] to hear more about how we can support you in transforming the landscape of student mental health through education.
For updates about our events check out our Student Wellbeing Rep Facebook pages: