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#MentalHealthAwarenessWeek - Tracey's diary

This week (Monday 18th May - Sunday 24th May 2020) is Mental Health Awareness Week, and this year the theme is kindness.  Here are some stories of kindness from Tracey, course leader for our FdSc Child and Adolescent Mental Health.

Image of Tracey, course leader for FdSc Child and Adolescent Mental HealthHello, I’m Tracey and this week is Mental Health Awareness Week. The focus this year is kindness. I will be sharing five events and stories that I have been involved in, whereby I have experienced kindness from my community, colleagues, friends or family.

I wanted to let you know what we as Learning Institute tutors get up to behind the scenes when we are not teaching, supporting and motivating you, our students; what we are passionate about and the charities we support, and how these things relate to you. My mental health as a tutor and your mental wellbeing as a student is a priority too!

Day 1 - Physical Health 

Tracey at the gym (before lockdown)
Tracey at the gym (before lockdown)

Fundraising through Fitness for CALM with Dec
at Greedy Gainer Gym

Total raised: £288.00

The Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) is leading a movement against suicide, the single biggest killer of men under 45 in the UK and the cause of 18 deaths every day. 


Dec says:

"I believe that exercise is a wonder drug. Pro-active movement helps create strength and resilience both physically and mentally. I've often referred to exercise as meditation in motion. Giving the mind a much needed break from reality.

Dec, from Greedy Gainers gym

Since the enforced closure of my business late March, I decided to keep providing exercise sessions to clients and for anyone else who follows the Facebook Greedy Gainer Gym page, free of charge.

On Mon 27th April myself, my clients and gym members had a fundraising event, the kindness and generosity of my members helped me raise £288.00 for my chosen charity CALM. 

Check out the link above, join the campaign to take a stand against suicide, and remember keep moving, keep talking and keep going."


Top tutor tip

Exercise and movement are very important elements to enhancing concentration and motivation whilst studying. Your tutors, student support officer and course leaders will help and support you thorough your academic year, but taking time for you will be a key to successful time management.

Day 2 - Creativity 

Today I was inspired and moved by the kindness of a 10 year old boy called Jedson, who wanted to help show his gratitude to the NHS workers.

Image of Brian the fisherman model
Brian the fisherman

Jedson created the little fisherman pictured, and held a 48 hour auction to raise money for the NHS. I was astonished by this story and the kindness and creativity of Jedson. I knew I had to act quickly and bid for “Brian” (which also happens to be my dad’s name, and he is an avid fisherman). I am now the proud owner of Brian and I hope to meet Jedson soon.

Having your efforts and talents appreciated is an incredible boost to your self-esteem and confidence. As tutors with The Learning Institute we understand creativity and motivation are key attributes to becoming a successful student.


Top tutor tip

Whilst considering if a foundation degree is for you, you may be confronted with Automatic Negative Thoughts (ANTs) about your capacity, cognition, self-worth and confidence. This is natural and normal. We will ask you to take a moment and think of all the qualities, attributes and skills you may have (think about Jedson!) and how these skills, attributes and  creativities are transferable.

Day 3 - Family 

My family is the most important thing in my life, and not seeing them is hard for us all at this time. I hope this story makes you smile.  

My goddaughter, Stephanie, has been overwhelmed with her little girl Hollie’s determination and courage in taking her first steps at the age of 5 years old, something our family thought we would never experience. Hols was born 13 weeks early, and has cerebral palsy. She is unable to swallow or talk, and has difficulty with her movements.

Stephanie wants to give back to the local community, and so set a little challenge for Hols - raising £100 for their heroes at Green Lane Disability School in Woolston, to go towards the purchase of a new minibus which would enable them to take the children out on day trips. Everyone’s expectations have been exceeded with the kindness of others, as to date Hols has raised £5,000. A huge thank you to everyone who has donated.

Read more about Hollie here


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Family is constructed of many different elements. Some family is formed by blood lines, some family are friends that have become family, and some family is arranged and imposed upon us.

At this time of uncertainty, families are apart and disconnected and this is not helpful for our mental health as we are creatures of connectedness. But kindness from others seems to be taking some of the strain. We understand how important family connections are to you as students. That is why you will find that individual pastoral support  is of paramount importance for you, as family is a long term commitment (and it can sometime interrupt our studies!).       

Top tutor tips

  • Inform your family that you are a full time student
  • Make provisions for studying, e.g. timetable, place
  • Communicate with your family throughout and involve them in your studies, projects and deadlines
  • Ask for help with daily chores and errands
  • Talk to your tutors and student support officer
  • Ditch the guilt!
  • Maintain time for yourself and your family
  • Acknowledge what a positive role model you are

Day 4 - Friendship 

My presents
My presents

It's Day 4 of Mental Health Awareness week and I’m reflecting today.

Amidst this pandemic, eight days ago, I had a little accident and ended up needing a few stitches in my hand. It was my dominant hand, and there were many things I could not do. This morning I went to the GP to have the stitches removed. I was slightly nervous, but a very kind nurse reassured me and made me feel comfortable and relaxed, and as quick as a flash the stitches were out.

A week ago today my very best friend, on hearing the news, popped to the shop and bought me several of my favourite items including flowers and chocolates. Other friends called me up and offered words of kindness and support. My elderly neighbour, whom I keep my eye on, even offered to mow my lawn! Kindness and friendship seem to go hand in hand and I am blessed to have wonderful friends.

Friendship is an important component to most people, least of all me. Throughout our lives we gain different friendships from different experiences. I was a student with The Learning Institute, and I am still connected with the friends I made whilst studying. I will always hold these friendships dear and I was, and still am, most grateful for them. I also made connections with tutors and formed trusting bonds with staff along the way.

Kindness seems to help the world go round and now, more than ever, we are seeing random and deliberate acts of kindness. Friendships, relationships and connections occur whilst undertaking many experiences including studying; you make kinships with like-minded others, others who understand your journey, your persistence, your determination your failures and successes.      


Top tutor tips

  • Relax and be you
  • Be brave, ask questions, make suggestions
  • Understand bias… this sometimes takes time!
  • Join in groups
  • Communicate regularly with your fellow students, tutors and student support
  • Be proactive, become a student representative
  • Maintain a professional code, clashes of opinion should never be taken personally
  • Understand group dynamics
  • Be reflective
  • Be curious

Day 5 - Relaxation 

This pandemic is taking it's toll on people, families and communities. However kindness seems to be abundant and all around me at the moment. Heath and fitness have always been very important to me. Helping and supporting others to achieve their goals in my profession can impact on you as an individual. So I rely on relaxation practice to help keep me grounded. 

During this time of change and disruption, my weekly practices were in jeopardy. But once again I have been blessed with the kindness of others. My fitness instructor, Dianne, who runs classes in the local community several times a week, has been offering daily classes online for free. This has been a lifeline to me and I am very grateful to her for her kindness and commitment to her students. 

Dianne says:

“Your mobile is ringing, someone from work wants to talk to you and your family are asking what's for dinner”. Stress and anxiety are everywhere. If everything is starting to get you down, try hitting the mat and give yoga a try. Yoga is a mind-body practice that combines physical poses, controlled breathing, and meditation or relaxation. It is considered one of many types of complementary and integrative health approaches and brings together physical and mental disciplines that may help you achieve peacefulness of body and mind.

Image of a lady in a yoga position
Yoga stretches

This can help you relax, managing stress and anxiety, enhancing your mood and sense of well-being. Yoga can also improve your fitness, by helping with balance, flexibility, range motion and strength. Also, some people find it useful managing a variety of chronic conditions. Don’t worry if you have never done Yoga before. Everyone has to start somewhere and you may need to modify postures based on your body and ability. You don't have to do every pose - explore, you may be surprised and exceed your personal limits. Namaste.”    

Dianne's classes on YouTube
More relaxtion tips from MIND


Top tutor tips

  • Make time to relax
  • Breathing techniques help anxiety
  • Communicate regularly with your tutors and student support
  • Don’t give up your hobbies
  • Make time for you
  • Remember why you are studying , maintain your goal