What is mental health?
Mental health is a state of mental wellbeing that enables us to cope with the stresses of life, realise our abilities, learn well and work well, and contribute to our community. 

Mental wellbeing underpins our ability to respond, our resilience when things get tough, our relationship with ourselves and others, and how we shape the world we live in.

Mental health is a basic human right and it is more than the absence of mental disorders. 

Mental health and wellbeing is personal, it differs from one person to the next, so our approach to our own mental wellbeing should also be personal. 
Adapted from World Health Organisation, Concepts in mental health

What impacts our mental health and wellbeing?

The way we respond to the stresses in our lives will be unique to each of us and the strategies we've learnt and developed over time.

Some things may impact us over time, such as:
  • how we approach our studies or work, 
  • the way we manage stressful situations or 
  • our relationships with others. 
How we look after ourselves physically can impact our mental wellbeing: 
  • our level of movement and activity
  • the food we eat, 
  • the sleep we get, 
  • how hydrated we are, 
  • how we socialise and spend our time. 
Whilst other things that can impact us may be more immediate or unexpected, for example:
  • a traumatic event or change in our circumstances,
  • a health issue or 
  • a bereavement.  
Our level of resilience to day-to-day stress will also depend on our coping methods.

A useful tool to reflect on this is the Stress Container:
Stress Container - Mental Health First Aid England
Mental Health First Aid have produced an interactive online tool to help us understand how we experience stress (one of our body's natural response mechanisms when we sense danger).

Our body's natural response to stress
When our body senses that we are in a stressful situation through our senses, one a part of our brain (the amygdala) which contributes to processing emotions, tells another part of our brain (the hypothalamus) to ready the body to respond to the threat via the nervous system. This is unconscious or automatic.

Therefore, we may not be fully aware of or understand the reasons why our stress responses have kicked in or we stop feeling that they have. These instinctive reactions or responses have developed through our evolution as humans to protect us from danger and to save our lives. However, sometimes these instincts are triggered in situations where we are not in danger, but our body reacts as if we are. 

These responses or reactions include:
Fight: where we respond through aggression by shouting, getting angry, attacking verbally or physically.
This response may make us snappy, quick to respond, throw things around, lash out, blame or accuse others even when we're at fault, be rude, swear or put someone else down (think of 'road rage' as an example).

Fright: where we run away, hide or avoid the danger or stress.
This response may make us avoid difficult tasks, worry about what might happen, fear of situations where we might experience something that makes us stressed or anxious, avoid conflict or challenging experiences.

Freeze: where we find that we can't move, remain motionless or still.
This response may make us stay silent or feel we need to remain without movement (physically, emotionally or psychologically) in order to avoid a stressful or fearful situation. We may become numb to our own feelings or the fear we are experiencing.

Flop: where we become unable to move, similar to freezing, but going 'floppy' and shut down.
This can affect our ability to be productive, to gain energy or momentum, our resilience when dealing with stressful situations.

Fawn/friend: this may involve 'befriending' someone who is attacking us, agreeing with them, pleading or negotiating, or asking a bystander for help.
This may make us respond by agreeing or collaborating with an abuser in order to feel safer, to minimise how we feel or challenge whether we should seek the support or help of someone else.
When we are in a prolonged state of stress or we are unable to cope with the level of stress we are experiencing, our bodies can respond as if we in a permanent state of 'danger'. However, the majority of the time we're not in danger, so this can impact our wellbeing including our eating habits, our sleep, and we may turn to coping mechanisms that contribute to making us feel less well in the long run.

How we have dealt with or been taught how to process our emotions including fear, anger or stress (for example in childhood), will contribute to our coping strategies and patterns that we turn to in order to feel safe in adulthood. Whereas at some point in our lives these coping strategies might have helped us to feel safe, over time they may impact our mental wellbeing, for example through:
  • negative thought patterns
  • internalisation of pain and distress
  • destructive behaviour
  • not looking after ourselves physically or mentally 
  • not feeling good enough 
  • hiding or suppressing our feelings and emotions
  • self-blame or self-harm
Mental wellbeing: how can we help our minds and bodies towards wellness?

1. By understanding that we all have mental health and we can all take steps every day to understand and support our mental wellbeing.

2. By making mental health and wellbeing personal - spend some time to explore what is helpful for you, there are some resources below to get you started.

3. By knowing that we don't need to reach a point of crisis before reaching our and for support, just ask.

Every Mind Matters

The NHS's Every Mind Matters campaign outlines the following 7 top tips to support your mental health and wellbeing. Click on the link above for more information including videos and additional resources. 
1. Reframe unhelpful thoughts
2. Be in the present
3. Get good sleep
4. Connect with others
5. Live a healthy life
6. Do something for yourself
7. Write a letter to future you
Action for Happiness

Charity Action for Happiness has a range of tools and information - follow the link above for more information and also to download their app. They outline that "everyone's path to happiness is different" and through research have identified

10 Keys to Happier Living - GREAT DREAM:
Giving: do kind things for others
Relating: connect with people
Exercising: take care of your body
Awareness: live life mindfully
Trying out: keep learning new things
Direction: have goals to look forward to
Resilience: find ways to bounce back
Emotions: look for what's good
Acceptance: be comfortable with who you are
Meaning: be part of something bigger

Internal support

The counselling team are also available and can be contacted on 020 7873 7303 (9am to 5pm weekdays) or by email counsellor@ram.ac.uk.

If you would like information about accessing the right services please request here with your details. In doing so, an advisor will contact you within 3 days to arrange an appointment to discuss how best to support you.

External support

There are free helplines, some of which are open 24 hours a day, every day.

London Nightline - Confidential listening support and advice service for students, run by students.
020 7631 0101 (6pm-8am every night in term time)
Samaritans - Available day or night, 365 days a year, to listen without judgement or pressure.
116 123 (Freephone Helpline from any phone, free of charge)

HOPEline - Confidential support and advice for people under 35 with thoughts of suicide.
0800 068 4141 (Free from landlines 9am-10pm on weekdays; 2pm-10pm on weekends and bank holidays)


In an emergency contact 999.

If you have a hearing or speech impairment, use textphone service 18000 or text us on 999 if you’ve pre-registered with the emergencySMS service

Or go to Accident and Emergency (A&E) immediately. Nearest A&Es to the Academy:

UCLH (235 Euston Road) - 15 min walk, 10 minute bus or tube journey.
UCLH A&E Euston Road
St Mary’s Hospital (Praed Street, Paddington) - 23 min walk, 16 min bus or tube journey.
St Mary's Hospital, Paddington
Mental Health Crisis Assessment Service - St Pancras Hospital, 4 St Pancras Way, NW1 0PE.
Call the 24/7 crisis line as usual on 0800 917 3333 or contact your community mental health team

Call the 24/7 Camden & Islington (C&I) mental health crisis line on 020 3317 6333

If it's not an emergency, contact your local NHS 24/7 Mental Health helpline or the NHS Direct 111.

You can also contact your GP or register with a local doctor via National Health Service (NHS) website.

Or contact Paddington Green Health Centre PDF leaflet
4 Princess Louise Close, off Church Street, London W2 1LQ
Telephone 020 7887 1600 or 020 7887 1601.

Mental health support by text message

You can text "SHOUT" to 85258 for free from all major UK mobile networks. You'll then be connected to a volunteer for an anonymous conversation by text message. This free, confidential, 24/7 text messaging mental health support service is run by a charity called Mental Health Innovations.

There are two ways you can tell us what happened