Current iIssues

DEN: Mental Health at Westminster

This blog provides essential information on mental health and why the University community needs to take it seriously.

In the last decade, communities have made notable leaps, cross-culturally, regarding raising awareness for mental health difficulties. Unfortunately, much work is still to be done, and we may have a few pieces of the puzzle missing. 

Young people, particularly students in emerging adulthood, are among the primary demographics most impacted by mental health difficulties such as anxiety and depression. 

Life changes such as becoming more independent, starting a job, living alone, or pursuing higher education can be stressful for individuals. Young people may also deal with pre-existing mental health conditions during this transition. Those struggling with mental health may find society to be a difficult place to navigate and may face stigma. However, strong support from close communities can help individuals through tough times.

Studies have revealed that rather than relying solely on medical treatments, our mental health can be significantly influenced by community, culture, and overall physical well-being. These factors have also been crucial in preventing mental health issues and assisting individuals in their recovery.

The culture surrounding mental health often focuses on minimising and dampening what someone seems to be trying to externalise. Institutions and pharmaceutical influences, whilst playing a vital role in acute recovery, have been found to have limited long-term results and can often lead to additional trauma and marginalisation. Starting with communities, Trauma-informed recovery is starting to enter the everyday lexicon. Both professionals and the general public are increasingly educated on the need for nervous system regulation in the face of a fast-paced, increasingly ungrounded world.

Communities and engagement in grounding activities, such as art and exercise, amongst other people, co-regulates our nervous systems. Co-regulating activities have been shown to aid in healing the many core roots of psychological trauma, relational difficulties and mental illnesses. These precise things are often missing from people’s lives and continue to be restricted during extreme cases of inpatient institutional treatment, with medications often dampening a person’s ability to experience their environment fully long-term. With NHS cuts, mental health patients critically lack access to therapeutic interventions and often experience medication negligence after discharge. Today, even the structures we have to support individuals become barriers to full recovery and a further source of somatic dysregulation.

Mental health should be integral to universities’ initiatives for supporting their students. Therefore, there is a vast opportunity to endorse a sort of ‘co-regulation’ here at the Democratic Education Network (DEN) so that no student feels alone while struggling. Taboo, stigma and isolation are the leading causes of mental health difficulties snowballing into unmanageable issues. The DEN is an excellent platform for promoting these new and essential tools for students to feel more integrated, listened to and empowered to express themselves within their communities.

Anousheh Seddigh-Tonekaboni

Cognitive & Clinical Neuroscience

DEN seeks students to join us in relaunching our mental health project for this academic year. If you are interested in lending your assistance to this project, please feel free to reach out to me, 

Anousheh Seddigh-Tonekaboni@Westminster.ac.uk

or Dr Farhang Morad, F.Morady@Westminster.ac.uK. 

Our meetings are scheduled every Wednesday from 3-6 p.m., and we hold them in room 604, Regent Street. We look forward to hearing from you soon!

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