By Elizabeth Chandler, first year Business Student at Penryn Campus.
As a member of the Business Staff Student Liaison Committee (SSLC) and EDI team, I have always been passionate about wellbeing, mindfulness and providing support that students want, as illustrated through my past position at Student Voice. It was this core principle that prompted me to undertake the role as a Business SSLC representative. It was slightly shocking to find in our first feedback survey that ‘⅔ of second year students felt bad to very bad’ and that first years were finding the transition to university very difficult. There has always been a range of resources for wellbeing at the university but many students said that the signposting to these resources was not always clear. Several staff during a SSLC meeting, (including my module leader, Costa Menolchev) aided in brain-storming the inspiration for Pause for a Moment. Thus, the journey of ‘Pause for a Moment’ started as a way to find information about wellbeing in a visual, informative and engaging way, while advertising other wellbeing initiatives such as ‘Hobbychat’ and ‘Costa Coffee’.
Although I had experience in writing and publication, I had not had a huge amount of experience in graphic design up to October 2020, and at times I felt like I had “jumped in the deep end”. However, it was almost refreshing to use my creative skills knowing that what I was making was a resource that would help people and make a positive difference. On the note of creation, I found the software Canva to be most useful – it allowed me to have creative freedom then format it into Sway where it could be embedded in emails and distributed. I had the pleasure of working with Ali Bearhop who runs the College Operations. She was a massive aid in sharing ideas and feedback and making sure it was sent to the right people.
The first issue back in October received a lot of positive feedback. Students found that the ‘bite-sized’ content was enough to keep engagement while providing helpful ‘snippets’ of self-help, study-advice and overall well being life-hacks. I think having a resource made by students, for students allows it to be more relatable. I often made content that I have used myself and enjoyed – it was on the understanding that others may find it useful too.
Pause for a Moment has matured over these past months and the students, particular first years have really appreciated the transition from the “light and fluffy” ‘how to make your dorm room nice’ to subjects that are often stigmatised such as mental health. Interestingly, the illustration of design also went through a maturing period, the colours are more consistent, there’s more attention to the “tone” and it tends to flow easier with the most recent addition (February, 2021) looking fairly aesthetic.
There is a surprising amount of time and effort that I volunteer into P4AM each month, it can often be easy to overlook the “behind the scenes” of; creating the layouts, colours schemes, researching, editing and writing. However, I really care about the cause of it and feel that I’m “doing my bit”. Even if this monthly newsletter provides validation to just one student’s feelings and thoughts, it’s worth it, because it serves as a resource to remind them that they are not alone. I think it is crucial to have that in place during lockdown, where many feel especially isolated. Feedback on the resources has been very responsive, on many occasions I have had emails from students asking to write about certain topics such as; sleep, interview stress and ‘Zoom fatigue’. This is fantastic, I love making it as interactive as possible and find that it is so much more engaging when others have prompted ideas for the content too. I highly appreciate the ‘thank you(s)’ and other lovely messages, it reflects the benefits of wellbeing resources on the whole and it’s a great indicator to see that others have been encouraging more conservation around self-help, mental health, and academic stress as a result.
Ultimately, university can be a hugely dynamic experience, both academically and personally. It has often been said that ‘Pause for a Moment’ has provided a literal moment of rest (hence the name) for some to take time out and reflect on their lifestyle, workload, and approach to mental health. I’m so glad that the university has enabled students to come forward, provide networks to make resources like this, that helps to give back a little positivity and support in such unfortunate circumstances. The Business School has expanded distribution to the Law School recently too and feedback has highlighted that it acts as another network to connect to the two disciplines.
I encourage everyone to pause for a moment and take this difficult time as an opportunity to reflect on the ways they can help others and bring a little positivity that connects us all, in a disconnected time.
These links connect to back issues of Pause for a Moment: