Conduct a survey of what constitutes a good friendship and, irrespective of gender, cultural background or marital status, chances are the same answers would come back: a good listener, someone who understands, good company, someone who’s there for me through good times, and bad. Whilst the concept of a ‘friend’ may have changed in this era of social media dominated by Facebook where you can have hundreds of virtual ‘friends’, in everyday real life the reality is that most of us can count on our fingers how many close friends we have.
You might not immediately associate the Student Wellbeing Department as being a place where great friendship is on show, but, daily, touching displays of friendship are witnessed. This can range from a friend encouraging a distressed course mate to sign up for counselling, a tearful first year discussing how much they miss their friends back home, or a mature student talking about how their friends and partners understand the journey that they are on, and support them in their academic venture.
Often it can be difficult to be a friend to someone who’s upset, or experiencing mental health difficulties and it isn’t always easy knowing how to talk to someone or show concern without worrying about saying the wrong thing or inadvertently offending them. Yet, research undertaken by the N.U.S (2013) shows that students are most likely to turn to their friends if they are distressed.
With this in mind, the Student Wellbeing Team, in conjunction with Student Minds regularly runs workshops called Look After Your Mates which seek to increase your confidence in opening up conversations about emotionally difficult subjects, such as mental distress. If you would like to participate in the next workshop running on February 15th between 11am – 1pm, sign up via the following link: http://goo.gl/forms/ICc4HMrBeU or contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead. Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.