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Hey guys :) So as you may already know, It’s been Mental Health Awareness Week this week (8th-14th May) but we’ve been focusing on raising awareness of mental health all year through Heads Up!

Heads Up has been a mental health campaign that we’ve been running as a sabb team that I’ve been leading on for the past year. We had three main aims; to take preventative measures, to destigmatise & raise awareness on campus and to campaign for more provisions at UCL. Throughout the year we’ve run various events, talks and pop ups around campus to achieve these aims and this blog sets out a summary of all the things we’ve been doing!

Heads Up: Reporting on Mental Health and progress

Following the release of our report during the launch event, we made four recommendations to UCL. You can find these here.

 One of our recommendations looks at expanding the Student Psychological Services so that there are shorter waiting lists and students can be seen much quicker. Since the release of our report, UCL has carried out a review of the current mental health provisions at UCL and the ways in which these can be used more efficiently across the board rather than specifically SPS. We are yet to receive a final report but once we have, we’ll give you a Heads Up-date :)

We also recommended UCL to identify designated staff contacts who will provide pastoral support within departments. We are pleased to say that UCL is considering this recommendation through the Transforming Our Professional Services (TOPS) programme which is looking to propose a model which provides localised pastoral support for all students across all departments. We’d be keen to get feedback from you guys on some proposed models, so please watch out for focus groups and drop ins about this, or drop me an email at :)

Our report also found that students often had difficulties with their personal tutors and this resulted in poorer mental health. To tackle this, Halima your Education & Campaigns Officer and I have been working with Sam Smidt from UCL Centre for Advanced Learning & Teaching in creating better resources so that students and personal tutors know exactly what to expect from each other. These materials will be released in the new academic year after I’ve left so keep an eye out!

Heads Up Panel Events, Pop Ups & Stalls

Our first pop up this year was in collaboration with UCL Student Support and Wellbeing in the quad on a rainy day in November for a MENtal Health Pop Up where we gave out freebies from Planet Organic and asked male students to stop and explain how they look after their minds. We had loads of fun on the smoothie bike too and got a total of 94 tips, find them here!

We’ve also been hosting a range of destigmatising events focusing on different identities and the effects of mental health within them. I organised the ‘My Faith, My Mind’ panel with Rabbi Helen Freeman, Leyla Habibti from Inspirited Minds, Father Pascal from St Pancras Hospital and Kai Lim from UCLU Buddhist Society. We heard some really inspiring speeches on how faith can help a person suffering from mental ill health and the importance of good company.

In January Sam, your Women’s Officer and the UCLU Women’s Network hosted Heads Up: Women’s Identities and Mental Health, which was was a well-reaching success. Our panel spoke on a wide range of women’s issues that affect experiences of mental illness, and how the intersections with other parts of women’s identities plays into this experience.

In March, Sayeeda your BME Officer also hosted Black Minds Matter as part of the wider Black Lives Matter campaign at UCL. Black Minds Matter opened a very crucial conversation about the inequalities that black people face when they are most in need. We had an incredible turn out and heard from a variety of speakers, from a lecturer in Mental Health to someone who shared their personal experiences of schizophrenia.

Aside from these events focusing on minority groups, we’ve also been present at stalls for various events hosted throughout the term, such as the incredible What Do You Think? Mental Health Awareness Event, Wellbeing Strategy Launch @ UCL as well as an Open Mic hour for Student Mental Health Day, we’ve loved meeting each and every one of you and were overwhelmed by all the support.

Heads Up, Speak Out

Heads Up, Speak Out is the section of the campaign that has focused on specifically destigmatising mental health on campus and getting those important conversations going. We wanted to do this in the most creative way possible, so we split it into two sections: our Disclosure Exhibition and our Open Mic Night Series.

Disclosure Exhibition

In November, we unveiled our Heads Up, Speak Out Disclosure Box at our launch. This box was in the South Cloisters until February and it welcomed students, staff and visitors at UCL to submit any anonymous disclosures about their experiences of mental health at UCL to be displayed on campus. Since then, we’ve put the exhibition up and we’ve read some powerful, eye-opening letters, messages and poems. They are still displayed in the South Cloisters so please do have a read if you haven’t had a look already. Please note that there is sensitive content and so I’d advise you to read at your own discretion.

Following the positive feedback we have received about this exhibition, we have now launched our ‘Heads Up Art’ exhibition which will be displayed on campus in the next academic year. We want YOU to get creative and express your views on mental health through whatever mediums you’d like. Find details on how to submit artwork here.

Open Mic Nights

These events have by far been the most popular. We hosted two Open Mic Nights this year in my favourite venue at UCL, the Print Room Café.

Our first Open Mic Night opened the stage for anyone and everyone who wanted to speak, sing or recite about mental health generally. We had a range of performances that were so powerful that I basically had goose bumps the entire night.

The first night was so popular that students were demanding we had another one. So in March we had round two which was the MENtal Health Edition. This event was even more popular, and was a very special evening because it was in memory of Olly Hare, a former student at UCL. We had an overwhelming response from that evening and I wanted to thank all the friends of Olly who worked so hard to arrange it. The entire room was packed out and the atmosphere was phenomenal.

Here’s a quote from one of the speakers:

‘I didn’t share, I didn’t feel like I was living an emotional existence. If I hadn’t been opened up by the women in my life, I would’ve been hit by mental health problems.. I realised I had a bunch of guy friends, I wasn’t close with them, I didn’t share with them. I’ve made a promise to myself to open up those conversations with the guys. Rather than doing the regular thing of talking about ‘stuff’. I want to keep up with the guys in my life.’

Heads Up: The Future

As you probably know, our sabb year finishes this July and a new team will be taking over. We are more than sure that the new sabbs and particularly your new Welfare & International Officer Aiysha Qureshi will be continuing the Heads Up Campaign! Look out for the Art Exhibition, the report on mental health review and the TOPS proposed model for departmental pastoral care. We hope that the campaign keeps running until everyone on campus is open to talking about their mental health and the mental health provisions available at UCL are sufficient for the ever growing student population. If you’ve been inspired, want to talk or get involved with Heads Up, please get in touch with us at or find the new campaign team at Freshers Fair next year.

But for now, please take some time out to start that important conversation with someone, or just smile at students as they pass by, you never know whose day you may just turn around!