Mental Health Awareness Week ‘24

Written by Paige Tamasi 

This week is mental health awareness week, and, hopefully, everyone is aware of just how important caring for your mental well-being is. 

Each year the Mental Health Foundation releases a ‘theme’ for the week, set to encourage people to engage in various activities to support and boost their mental health. For this week, May 13 to May 20, the Mental Health Foundation set the theme of ‘movement’. The reason the Mental Health Foundation chose ‘movement’ is grounded in the scientifically proven idea that exercise reduces “anxiety and depression”, to such an extent that the Mental Health Foundation found that “56% of people found that exercising regularly helped them to alleviate stress and prevent burnout”. With exams ongoing for many students and people experiencing burnout due to being overworked, having the Mental Health Foundation focus on rectifying this is vitally important. 

Now Royal Holloway’s Student Union has set up various activities and events based around this theme of ‘movement’ to encourage active destressing activities. As always, if you’d like more information on the following events, I encourage you to go to the RHULSU website

At the beginning of the week, RHUL’s SU is hosting a Zumba class, and I am very excited to go. Zumba is a cardio-focused dance class that takes inspiration from traditional Latin movements. Just because Zumba is a dance class doesn’t mean that you need to be good at dancing, as I have always found Zumba to be one of the best classes to dance around (horribly or well, all depends on your skill level) with friends in an area free from judgement. I have never left a Zumba class with anything less than a joyful grin.

If you’d like something more relaxing than Zumba, the SU is hosting two different yoga classes this week: regular Yoga and Puppy Yoga. Similar to Zumba, yoga is a place to try something new and move your body –stretching it out and relaxing into different positions. I love going to yoga during exams because yoga forces you to relax and find peace, which, during exams, is something I desperately need. For those of you feeling frazzled, stressed, and like the world is a ball of sand sifting between your fingers with nothing to stop it, then I would highly recommend yoga as a way to relax and let go of your external (and internal) stresses, at least for an hour or so. 

Royal Holloway Student’s Union is also hosting a general Wellbeing Fair, where you can learn various skills and tips for managing your mental health, as well as where you can find support on and off campus. This is preceding a Friendship Bracelet-making event being put on. You can relax doing some simple arts and crafts and then potentially gift them to your friends to show your love and support for them! Afterwards, the RHUL SU will wrap up this week of Mental Awareness with a walk to and around Virginia Water.

Movement is vitally important to people’s mental health, and it does not have to be much to have a positive impact. We’re lucky that the weather for this week is turning out to be sunshiny and beautiful because that means if you want to ditch a bus ride in favour of walking, or even taking a little tour around campus with either music or friends for company, you’ll be enjoying the benefits of the sun too. I highly encourage everyone to get outside this week, take a break from living in the library revising, walk around the forest, grab a snack, sit in the sun, take a yoga class, go dancing, have a picnic, or play a sport. Moving has so many scientific benefits and during exam season we students need every type of mental support available. 

For more information on mental health awareness and support, please go to Mental Health UK.

Written by Paige Tamasi, Edited by Paige Tamasi, Photography by Anupam Mahapatra, Published by Paige Tamasi.