Today we will see the University of Newcastle hold its 4th annual ‘Mental Health & Well-being Day’ at the Callaghan campus. The day is meant to be about breaking down the stigma surrounding mental health issues, and helping students find ways to better deal with these issues if they arise.

As a person who has mental health problems myself, I am always grateful whenever I engage in days that are meant to be for me or are meant to support my struggle in some way. But I am also hesitant. I am wary of institutions using the day to further their branding, I am wary of what activities are being offered, and I am wary of the qualifications staff have when talking about mental health. I know that some of this is my own anxiety talking, but some of it is legitimate. At a day about mental health and well-being, a student could be excused for thinking they are able to speak openly about mental health, which I am hoping tomorrow will allow.

“This year’s Active Mental Health theme encourages students to include physical activity in their lives in order to build supportive social networks, boost wellbeing and help manage their mental health.”

This quote from the event speaks to the intentions of the day, which I think are noble. I for one know that doing physical activity definitely helps my mental health, and I know that it can help the mental health of others. What I am concerned about though is the fact that often those with serious mental health conditions really struggle finding the motivation to actually engage in physical activity at all, so I hope it doesn’t scare anyone off.

The activities this year range include outdoor Zumba, hula hooping, stalls, pick up basketball games, a freaking NUSA BBQ and demonstrations of the outdoor gym equipment in the afternoon.

These concerns aside I do commend staff of the University for the hard work that they put into putting on these events. Raising awareness of mental health issues is one of the best ways in which we can reach more equitable outcomes for our students with mental health issues.

So be there, or be a neurotypical square.

Students experiencing mental health issues are encouraged to contact the University of Newcastle Counselling Service.

If you are experiencing depression or thoughts of hopelesssness or self-harm, please reach out to a service such as Lifeline (13 11 14).

If you or somebody you know is in immediate danger, contact Triple Zero (000).