Refreshing blue waters: Finding space for mental health
10 May 2021
I am a painter and illustrator that specialises in exploring femininity, female form and sexuality with its connections to nature.
Struggling with mental health is something many of us experience, especially as we transition into university students. While there is progress being made, our mental health is still not discussed enough and is still surrounded by a great deal of stigma.
I myself was diagnosed with a generalised anxiety disorder in my first term at university after experiencing severe panic attacks. My anxiety resulted in me taking some time off in my second term and with the support of my family and friends beginning anti-depressants, medication which I still take to this day and has helped me hugely.
When I did eventually return to halls, I experienced an amazing amount of support from the university. I was offered 10 sessions of therapy through the wellbeing team at Penryn campus. I made good friends with my therapist and I was given amazing support to begin to both understand and cope with my anxiety diagnosis. These sessions really braced me for my return to my university lectures and I would thoroughly recommend these sessions based off of my personal experience.
I found that even when I needed support out of the blue, I was always able to approach the helpdesk both at Penryn and Falmouth campuses.
Alongside my therapy, there were many other services that the university provided that made my diagnosis easier. I found that even when I needed support out of the blue, I was always able to approach the helpdesk both at Penryn and Falmouth campuses.
The helpdesk spoke to me and gave me a private place to sit and talk to someone when I was really struggling in the middle of my day; looking back on my experience with the university this was so valuable to me and provided me with a level of support that I hadn’t even realised I needed.
Throughout this period of time, I was also in close contact with my personal tutor and course leaders, they were very aware of my situation and did absolutely everything they could to help me ease back into my sessions and lectures.
Alongside the official support from the University, it became clear that one of the best things for my mental health was nature.
Living in Falmouth was a huge benefit to my mental state, with the close accessibility to the beach and incredible surrounding walks. Being able to walk along the sea front completely dissolved any issues or stress I was having.
Along with the support and encouragement from my boyfriend, we discovered so many beautiful walks including visiting Pendennis point, Swanpool beach, Kimberly Park and Maenporth beach.
Living in Falmouth was a huge benefit to my mental state, with the close accessibility to the beach and incredible surrounding walks.
Considering learning has been online this year, being able to explore Falmouth has ensured that we have all been able to get out of our bedrooms and away from our screens. Making sure that we have breaks from our screens is vital, the seclusion created by our laptops has resulted in a great deal of loneliness and decline in our overall mental health this year.
The nature seen on both campuses is a haven, with the Falmouth campus being set in a public botanical garden and the Penryn campus making you feel like you’ve stepped straight into the novel ‘The Secret Garden’. While I lived on Penryn campus I often escaped to these gardens, I particularly loved the huge magnolia tree and small greenhouse that were situated in the very centre, housing tiny lime trees and cute succulents.
When struggling with my anxiety I would always benefit from walking amongst the blossoms and reading on one of the many benches, achieving a bit of peace away from hectic university life - something I would recommend to anyone struggling with their mental health.
The benefits of simply being outside at least once a day can often be forgotten, especially with the recent changes to our learning! With mental health being frequently improved by interaction with animals, the lake in Swanpool is perfect to feed ducks, swans and many other species of birds while admiring the variety of flowers that grow in the banks.
Sea swimming at the many beaches around Cornwall is another incredible opportunity to focus on yourself and your mental and physical health. With its refreshing blue waters and rockpools that are teeming with all kinds of sea life, I couldn’t recommend anything more beneficial than purchasing a wetsuit and swimming with friends or alone (remembering to be safe).
While admittedly the sea can be cold at first, after a few seconds it becomes the most refreshing and energising experience! Sharing this with friends is a great way to make use of our extremely close beaches as well as allowing yourself to really connect with the outside world.