New NTU society wants to start a conversation about mental health

A newly launched NTU society is equipping students with the tools needed to start a conversation about mental health.

Spud – which stands for speak, provide, understand, develop – hopes that it can bring attention to the mental health crisis in young men, too.

Scott Barnard, a 23-year-old microbiology student, founded the society to remember two people who took their own lives.

He said: “I’ve not exactly had the best couple of years mental health wise, and over the summer my best friend’s sister took her own life.

“A few weeks later, another friend’s house mate did the same.

“We wanted to do something to commemorate them and the idea just evolved from there.”

The looming presence of Covid-19 has slowed Spud’s initial planned events, but that hasn’t stopped them from planning for the future.

The group is preparing to run workshops with a local mental health charity that focus on easier ways to start the conversation when you notice your friends are struggling.

President Scott added: “More than anything, I just want people to start talking about it.

“I think it’s important to raise awareness of how much of a difference you can make in someone’s life just by checking in.”

Zoë Mallett, Vice President for Community & Welfare for NTSU, supports the introduction of the society wholeheartedly.

She said: “It is so important for students to be able to access the support they need easily and how they can support their peers too.

“Mental illness affects both men and women and the prevalence of it in men is often lower than women.

“But suicide continues to be the leading cause of death for young men, so it is fundamental to have a discussion about their mental health and what can be done about it.”

The Office for National Statistics reported that there were 5,691 suicides in England and Wales in 2019.

4,303 of which were men.

Zoë added: “I’m looking forward to see how NTU Spud works with NTSU and develops throughout the year!”

By Robbie Nichols

Feature image credit: SPUD

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