Notre Dame’s College Counsellor was inspired to provide support for grieving staff and students throughout Mental Health Awareness Week.
Mental Health Awareness week ran from May 13 to 19 this year. Organised by the Mental Health Foundation, it aims to spread awareness and understanding about mental health. (You can find out more here: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/campaigns/mental-health-awareness-week) This year, our College Counsellor Miss Charlotte Anderton decided to focus on the mental health impact for those in our community who are grieving.
This decision came after she spoke to the organiser of Pushing Up Daisies: an annual week-long festival hosted by Todmorden village, which aims to start conversations about life, death and loss. In response Miss Anderton, supported by our lay chaplain, offered students and staff the chance to talk about the loss of someone they love. ‘This can have a huge effect on your life and your mental wellbeing,’ said Miss Anderton, ‘so we wanted to have our own event at Notre Dame to recognise the importance of having an opportunity to talk about that’.
Throughout Mental Health Awareness Week, our counsellor and chaplain opened Café Daisy every lunchtime in the lower common room. This quiet, private space allowed for conversations to take place about an issue that affects everyone. Staff and students were also encouraged to take part in The Last Post, writing letters to people in their lives who had died. Miss Anderton was on hand to support anyone who struggled with what to write. All letters were placed into a postbox, and on Friday lunchtime these were taken to the Chapel to be burnt as a gesture of passing the messages on. This symbolic ceremony provided an opportunity for quiet reflection, a gathering of people from all faiths.
Miss Anderton said, ‘We did this during Mental Health Awareness Week because we believe that grief and loss are a huge part of life and affect both staff and students. However, it’s not something we’re very comfortable talking about. I was inspired by the message of Todmorden’s Pushing Up Daisies Festival: bring death into the light’.
You can read more about the festival here: http://www.pushingupdaisies.org/