Student success for mental health awareness society at University of Leeds

Students from the University of Leeds who are on a mission to spread awareness of mental health across the campus have had a huge response to their new society.

By Daniel Sheridan
Thursday, 30th December 2021, 4:45 am

Second-year Megan Suckling, 19, is the founder of SSAFE (Suicide Support and Awareness For Everyone).

The society was set up to help improve "the mental wellbeing" of the community.

For Megan's family, the lockdown was extremely tough.

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Students have started a group called the Suicide Prevention Society, at Leeds University..Megan Suckling Pic: Simon Hulme

Speaking to the YEP, she told how her brother struggled with his mental health and attempted to take his own life multiple times over the course of six months.

Megan, who is from Eastbourne but moved to Leeds five years ago, said her family saw a "lack of support" for relatives of those who were affected by mental health in this way.

Eager to make a difference, she returned to university and set out on creating a society to inform and educate her peers. Its ambition is to work with mental health charities and education platforms to spread the message.

Together with secretary Chloe Davison, 19; treasurer Alex Simpson-Hayter, 19, and 21-year-old schools liaison Edwina O'Connor, Megan hoped the society would succeed in its goals.

Students have started a group called the Suicide Prevention Society, at Leeds University.. Pictured from the left are Edwina O'Connor, Megan Suckling and Alex Simpson-Ayter. Pic: Simon Hulme

Since its inception, the society has gained hundreds of followers and hosted a number of talks within the University.

Speaking to the YEP, Megan said: "Now have a committee of seven members who help with publicity events and also welfare.

"There are 15 members signed up with us however there are more than 70 who are on our mailing list, 160 followers and more members to come when we host a stall at the fresh start week at the university of Leeds."

Alex Simpson-Hayter, 19, said the group hosted a 'give-it-a-go' event in October.

She added: "It was a tea and talk session focused around the word ‘stigma’.

"In general terms, this means a negative opinion or thought that is associated with a certain activity, word or feeling.

"At the session we spoke about stigma in terms of mental health and suicide, with everyone sharing their experiences of stigma and ways we can get rid of it.

"We did a fun activity at the end where we all wrote on a sheet and collected our feelings and thought which provided a helpful experience to those who have been negatively affected by this! It was a lovely session with a good turnout for a new fresh society!

"Everyone who turned up expressed how they found the session really helpful and can’t wait for future events.

"It showed us that the society is a really positive thing and can make a great impact for the students on campus and hopefully beyond this."

Rhiannon Stiller, 19, is the publicity officer for the society.

She said: "I love producing different graphics and content so I’m super happy with my position on the committee.

"My goals are to raise awareness of suicide prevention and mental health online, as well as showcase the different fundraising events we hope to undertake throughout the new year.

"This society has already come so far this past year, I can’t wait to see how much further it goes in 2022."

Events planned for the new year including a well-being event with therapy dogs, training with papyrus about suicide prevention, tea and talks fortnightly and different fundraising events such as a pub quiz.

The group is also planning to go into schools from next year to give advice.

Anyone interested in following the society can visit their Instagram page on @luussafe

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