Mental health statement from LSST’s Student Union

LSST’s Student Union aims for all students to feel safe, help them to find the right academic support needed and to ensure that no one is having difficulties with their learning and development.

The pandemic has dramatically changed our lives, including our relationships with other people be they on our campus, neighbourhoods, families, homes, or workplaces. Facing such uncertainties, we are coming to realise that we must be more patient and understanding with ourselves and with each other.

During this strange and challenging time, I am working on ways to support students who are more vulnerable. One of these ways is co-developing a PACT student mindfulness model (see below).

I have given myself more time to connect with as many students I could reach, albeit many have instead contacted me, for my guidance, advice and follow up.

It is especially important to listen to the experiences of which many of LSST students have lived since the lockdown took place. Losing the regular contact with people and being forced into a different and more virtual way of scholarly communication. The lack of expected and normal day-to-day human contact can feel stressful and at times can be worrying, frightening and even intolerable for students.

To cope with the lockdown, I have urged students to stay connected. I have done my best with my skills and have been on the phone, emails, messages, video calls, and video conferences to keep in touch with all our students. This is essential and has helped us to feel more ‘social’ about and connected. I have had many students say that by doing this, we have cared for each other and our mental health as all of us may be feeling lonely, isolated, and afraid about what is happening. I also co-wrote a stress guide with a four-factor model to help combat student mental health – The feedback has been fantastic and LSST students have widely said that the four-factor model proposed has helped reduce their stress.

I have continuously encouraged students to make new e-connections with other students from other campuses action which resulted incredibly supportive, discovering people with the same interest for online fitness, cookery, debates, sharing hobbies and music interests.

I have been helping students to create some certainties, to have a daily routine which allows us to feel more in control, at a time when we have the feeling that we lost control over our daily lives. To create a space and to allow sharing and expressing feelings without fear and to listen without judgement, remembering that everyone is affected by the situation and many of us are feeling more anxious and more irritable than usual.

All these supporting methods and strategies, online events and meetings have helped enhance student experiences and have helped reduce stress. Along with the newly launched mindfulness model, I will go the extra mile for any student who will reach out for support. This is what makes me different and this is my contribution to minimising mental health effects during this pandemic.

Irina Barariu, LSST’s Student Union President