Esme Foxworthy-Bowers is using her own experience to help her in her campaign for Health and Wellbeing Officer.
In an interview with Brig, she said: “There’s a huge amount of information I wish I knew when I was struggling with my own mental health at the start of university, and truthfully, I want to be able to let other people know what I didn’t.”
Esme, a third year student studying psychology and biology, decided to run for the part-time position as a way to greater increase awareness of issues including mental health stigma. She aims give student feedback to the union while being more involved in improving services available to students.
Co-running a support group in cooperation with the union has shown Esme how important having a community and network of people to speak openly to is. She feels this experience will help her understand what we, as a university, might be able to do to promote this idea on a wider scale.
Esme told us: “My involvement in the #isthisok campaign has felt very productive and we are seeing changes and improvements happen, so continuing with other forms of health feels natural.
“There are a lot of techniques and guidance I wish I had known, such as understanding what is normal and what is not, creating a network and how to manage if you’re on a waiting list.
“I think in the current climate it is really important to know where to access help and to know what to do in the meantime.
“I feel like I have so much knowledge that I hope I can use for positive change!”
Esme highlighted the influence of the pandemic on many people’s mental health, and has plans to implement a ‘Coping after Covid’ campaign to help people re-adjust to living life normally again.
“Realistically, there is a huge amount of collective fear and trauma that we have all gone through, so something like a safety net – like information or workshops – for people to manage anxieties they’ve never experienced before, or worsened ones, might allow for a bit of breathing space.
“Like a buffer to re-adjust!”
The Edinburgh-native also believes it is important to recognise the collective grief many will have experienced across the pandemic: “talking about and working through grief can be so difficult, particularly if you’re isolated from family or friends. Support for people who have gone through this is something that could really benefit those in need in the long term.”
Also on Esme’s agenda is combatting stress during semester, providing sessions to help students reduce their stress levels, particularly in the run up to exams.
“Lots of studies have reported that just 30 minutes either outside, exercising or doing a de-stress activity away from your workspace is ideal for relaxing and taking your mind away from stress.
“The aim will be to try and get people a really good little break from studying.
“Activities like gardening, cooking and interaction with animals are hidden gems: since they’re very practical and involve a lot of different senses they can keep you engaged in the present.
“This is a type of grounding… its aim is to bring focus way from your thoughts and to what’s around you.
“I believe that by using activities like these (that people may not realise are beneficial for lessening stress) it would bring valuable and much needed relief for students and staff.”
Esme does clarify: “Good quality breaks are so much better for going back to work feeling refreshed. I wouldn’t want anyone to be stressed out by trying to do too many de-stress activities!”
Voting opens March 8 at 9am and closes March 9 at 6:15pm.
Voting can be done on the Stirling Students’ Union webpage.
Feature Image Credit: Esme Foxworthy-Bowers