In the wake of Wellness Week at Kingâ€™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 Huntâ€™s presidency has been championed by the issue of mental health awareness.
He began his term with a powerful blog post published byÂ 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 isÂ still pushing for more to be done to help students with mental health issues and raise awareness: â€˜Guardian statistics last year showed that 80 percent of students suffer with mental health issues at some point in their course.
â€˜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 givenâ€™.
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.’
â€˜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 donâ€™t think itâ€™s the be all and end allâ€™.
While Wellness Week made significant achievements in promoting mental health, and giving students the facilities and activities to de-stress,Â Ben believes the only way to see real change is by getting what was promised in the mental health joint statement started: â€˜I would like to see that move now and actually make the radical shifts that were outlined.’
â€˜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 wellâ€™.
Photo Credit: KCLSU