09 November 2015

Monsters on campus

From 5 October to 9 October, RMIT was overrun with “terrifying” Mental Health Monsters who were determined to wreak havoc on any student that came their way.

Monsters University was created so that you would have a place to share ideas and skills about mental health and illness. We wanted to debunk the myth that experiencing a mental health issue is something that only happens to a few isolated people – to share the truth that so often, our environments make us feel “crazy”, and most of us feel alone at some point in our lives. We wanted to make feeling crazy or ugly or monstrous something that isn’t shameful, that doesn’t have to be a secret. We wanted to give each other strategies to keep our loved ones and ourselves safe. We wanted to celebrate the amazing ways that people find to survive and thrive against the odds.

During the week, activities at each Melbourne campuses were set up in a way that were actively engaging and encouraged you to think about how you would feel if you were experiencing a range of mental health issues. Each activity had a mental health theme and a challenge to overcome. Coping strategies and information on where to seek help were readily available and you were able to learn in a fun and relaxing environment.

Talking about mental health issues can be an uncomfortable experience for many people. We believed that by taking the focus away from the individual and having the emphasis directed at the “Monsters” allowed you to freely discuss these topics without having to disclose or admit to anyone that you may be experiencing any of the issues that are on display. The beauty of the Monsters was that they were so relatable that the messages were not lost within the activity. This allowed you to find information about mental health issues or services that you could seek help from, if you needed, in a very subtle way.

Over the course of the week over 1000 students were provided with play dough, bubbles and mindfulness activities to aid their mental health during the assessment period. Furthermore, over 200 students actively took part in our Monster activities, "Feed the Monster", "Fight the Monster" and "Fill the Monster with Love".

Note: The theme was not at all intended to make light of these conditions but instead was intended to give these intangible mental illnesses some substance and make them appear more manageable as physical entities.

If you feel this event achieved positive outcomes or raised any concerns for you, head to Wellbeing Central for more information or make an appointment with our Counselling Service on +61 3 9925 4365.

*Written by Elizabeth Kemp, 4th year Bachelor of Social Work student on behalf of RMIT Counselling Services.

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