Do you know what is happening in March?

‘Exercise not only changes your body, it changes your mind, your attitude and your mood’.

Oft quoted (but never with a source!) this phrase sums up the ethos of University Mental Health Day which falls next week on Thursday 2nd March.  The links between mind and body have been known for generations, but all too often we forget about how important it is to keep active when stress levels rise, and deadlines creep ever closer.  It can feel much easier to hunker down with supplies of Red Bull, chocolate and takeaways to get through the piles of work, rather than to waste/spend time going for a run, an exercise class, or even just a walk around the lake.  However, the benefits of physical activity for keeping adrenaline and cortisol levels in check definitely makes up for the loss of thirty minutes study-time – and let’s face it, most of us probably spend that much time on social media every day!

If you would like some inspiration on how to incorporate more exercise into your daily routine, or even be convinced about the mind-body links and the way that exercise can also promote mental well-being, keep your eye out for all of the activities that Student Wellbeing, the SportsPark and RUSU are organising over the first week of March.  This link is a great first port of call:

Over the next week, if you do anything active, why not take a photo and upload it to the University’s Facebook, Twitter or Instagram pages using the hashtag #UoRGetActive – there is a £50 Blackwells voucher for 1st prize, as well as a month’s free membership at the SportsPark and 2 x £20 Unique Fruits vouchers which can be spent at the weekly fruit and vegetable market in ThreeSixty.  (T&C apply).

As part of our awareness raising campaign, we are also really thrilled to be able to host “knockout” guest speaker and sporting legend Frank Bruno MBE on Wednesday 1 March.  Frank Bruno will be here to talk about his own well-documented struggle with mental illness and how sport has helped him through difficult times.

If you would like to meet Frank in person, get a cheeky Selfie with him, or build up a sweat for a good cause in our charity SuperCircuits, put WEDNESDAY 1st March in your diary.  Frank will be leading Super Circuits at the SportsPark from 1-2pm, and then will be heading on over to the Van Emden Lecture theatre in HUMSS from 2-3pm to engage in a lively discussion hosted by two Film & Theatre students, with an opportunity for questions from the floor.  Both events do need registering for, so please either visit the SportsPark website:  or follow the links on the Essentials pages.

Photo Copyright Getty Images

“Know what I mean, ‘Arry?”


most of us can count on the fingers of one hand how many close friends we have

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:  or contact 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.

Albert Camus