As part of National Mental Health Awareness Week our Student Support and Guidance Tutor Justine Devenney arranged a whole school event last week to discuss and debate how we promote better mental health in the study of Architecture and Interior Architecture. This event leads on from a previous symposium hosted by Brighton and the Architecture Students Network where students explored architectural education and mental health with the aim of delivering a manifesto for change; and on the 2016 AJ Mental Health Student Survey findings that reported 26 per cent of architecture students had received medical help for mental health problems resulting from their course, while a further 26 per cent feared they would need to seek help in the future. See link to Dezeen opinion piece by our Head of School Robert Mull https://www.dezeen.com/2016/08/04/robert-mull-opinion-architecture-education-uk-mental-health-students-volunteering/
The event was attended by both staff, undergraduate and post graduate students who listened to lectures on a range of topics from personal experiences of mental health, to cognitive behaviour therapy approaches and anxiety associated with assessment methods and the studio environment. The afternoon was then spent in workshops exploring good stress versus bad stress, anxiety triggers and symptoms, and the chance to identify and explore better coping strategies.
Much of the discussion will now be ongoing with aims that go beyond just the day itself. Here at Brighton we want to encourage a better understanding of how language and terminology used plays a key part in understanding what is a normal level of stress and what is mental illness. How we encourage better resilience and an understanding of academic criticism/constructive criticism versus what might feel personal ; and how to take responsibility for managing ones own mental health by asking for help sooner rather than waiting for a crisis
The School of Architecture and Design want to say a big thanks to both our students from BIAAS for making the day happen and the speakers who we look forward to working with in the future.
Emmanuel Owusu (Building surveyor, Author, London region ambassador for ABS, NHS Design board champion, service user, Mental health first aider)
Henrietta Adegoke (NHS Qualified BACB Cognitive Behavioural Therapist)
Srimathi Aiyer ( Part iii architect currently working for Macegroup, member of Architect for Change and a London region ambassador for ABS)
Anxiety UK, Architects Benevolent Society and RIBA.