Former KCLSU President Ben Hunt Speaks on Wellness Week

In the wake of Wellness Week at King’s, ROAR caught up with former KCLSU President Ben Hunt to talk mental health awareness at the College.

Having been a long serving member of the student union, working first as Education and Activities Vice-President in 2015 and then becoming President of the Student Union (SU) in 2016, Ben Hunt’s presidency has been championed by the issue of mental health awareness.

He began his term with a powerful blog post published by KCLSU which documented his own personal mental health challenges, and later signed a hugely significant joint statement between the College and the SU promising to improve mental health policy.

Now returning to his original humble pursuits as a philosophy student, Ben is still pushing for more to be done to help students with mental health issues and raise awareness: ‘Guardian statistics last year showed that 80 percent of students suffer with mental health issues at some point in their course.

‘Mental health before my time in the SU, around 2013/2014, had been a pressing issue for some time, both in the provision of service – the amount of councillors within the institution – and also the type of provision that was being given’.

Ben argues that while initiatives such as Wellness Week are positive, he believes more active student involvement is necessary: ‘there needs to be a conversation around embedding those practices as well because not every student is going to see them.’

‘The critique of having only one time of year to focus on it is valid. On the other hand it can provide a vital space to be honest and talk about these issues, which I tried to do, and lots of other people have done right across the student union. As a sort of springboard to the greater issues of helping tackle the problems of mental health it’s a positive thing. But I don’t think it’s the be all and end all’.

While Wellness Week made significant achievements in promoting mental health, and giving students the facilities and activities to de-stress, Ben believes the only way to see real change is by getting what was promised in the mental health joint statement started: ‘I would like to see that move now and actually make the radical shifts that were outlined.’

‘It’s not enough, on a particular day, for people with those issues to have a smoothie and take time out – more is required and the base line of services needs to be improved. I think that conversation of embedding needs to be had, rather than just initiatives, and I hope that the strategy group – once it forms – takes that into consideration as part of its measures of success and looks at that as well’.

 

Photo Credit: KCLSU

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