To support Mental Health Awareness Week we asked Stacy Drieu, one of our Wellbeing Advisers at ARU, to share what mental health awareness means to her and what we can do to improve our wellbeing.
As a Wellbeing Adviser I’m based physically on ARU's Cambridge campus, but support students across all of our campuses as well as those studying degree apprenticeships.
I did my Psychology BSc Hons at ARU between 2013 and 2016, which was a great experience, both for learning and for living. I knew if there was anything that stood a chance at keeping me interested for any length of time, it would be the study of human behaviour and the mind. I initially chose to study here because it was close to home with a good reputation; little did I realise that it would soon become my second home!
Joining the Counselling and Wellbeing Team
I finished my degree feeling extremely proud, but lacking confidence in myself and the clarity of what I wanted to do next. Having already developed a sense of belonging at ARU, I decided to look for a job here that would help me step into the working world and start to understand all things ARU from a staff perspective.
Three months after completing my studies, I began working at ARU’s iCentre. Working with a great team there, I soon felt confident in my knowledge of all areas of the University, and realised I loved working with the ARU student population and could happily continue supporting students for years to come. I did, however, want to ensure I was making best use of my degree and skill set, and was delighted when a job came up in the Counselling and Wellbeing Team and I was offered the job after interview.
Between being a student and being a staff member, I have now been at ARU for ten years and the sense of safety, security and belonging I have at ARU means that I can’t really imagine myself anywhere else.
Mental health awareness at ARU
Mental health awareness is consistently on our agenda at ARU, and we’re always looking for new ways to engage the ARU population and get everyone thinking about what this means to them.
To me, mental health awareness is having the ability to understand how unique everyone’s emotional and psychological experience is and being kind and compassionate to others wherever possible.
Mental wellbeing, or emotional wellbeing if you prefer, can also look different to everyone. For me to feel emotionally well, I feel like I need to understand my needs and have them met, and wherever possible align the way I live with my values.
My advice to anyone who is struggling is to try your very best to talk. You can talk to a professional, you can talk to a stranger, you can talk to a friend. You can even talk to yourself if you’re not yet feeling able to talk to anyone else; just start saying how you’re feeling out loud. Find words to express what’s going on inside.
Reaching out when you’re struggling can help stop the isolation that often accompanies feeling mentally unwell and can help you build a support system, discover ways to help you cope and hopefully give you the will to work towards improving your mental wellbeing.
By Stacy Drieu
Wellbeing Adviser, ARU
Published to mark Mental Health Awareness Week 2023.
This year, Mental Health Awareness Week runs from 15-21 May. It aims to increase people’s awareness and understanding of mental health, focusing on good mental health for all.
Read more blogs on the theme of wellbeing or explore health and wellbeing support at ARU.