Orbital Feature: Mentality, Royal Holloway’s Mental Health Society

President of Mentality Milo Dack explains the society.

A university student mental health survey conducted by The Insight Network – Dig In – in 2018 suggested that nine out of ten students in higher education (of the 38,000 surveyed) struggled with feelings of anxiety, a third suffered from loneliness often or all the time, more than 1 in 5 had a mental health diagnosis, and over three-quarters concealed their symptoms from friends due to the stigma attached to mental health. 

This, in a nutshell, is why I campaigned to ratify a mental health student group here at Royal Holloway University – this, and because I felt that there was a real lack of representation and support for students who were suffering with their mental health at university and I believed that there was an opportunity to change the university experience for students for the better. 

My name is Milo Dack and I am the president of Mentality, which is Royal Holloway’s first mental health student group. I ratified this group at the end of January this year and have been working towards campaigning for better support for students suffering from mental health. I am writing this in the hope that people can begin to better understand what Mentality is, why I set it up, what we’re doing, and how you can get involved. 

What is Mentality?

Mentality is a student group ratified within the Royal Holloway Students’ Union under Byelaw G of the Constitution, set up with the aim of challenging the social stigmas surrounding mental health within the university and the Students’ Union. We aim to create a permanent mental health base for students to access a wider range of support and services, to lobby the university and Students’ Union, and encourage more open discourse on the often-tabooed topic of mental health, particularly in young men. 

Why did I set it up?

I founded this student group because I felt that the support offered to students was fundamentally inadequate, both from a personal experience and from talking to other students at the university. I, myself, have been through the system within the university and healthcare centre and had felt that I had thoroughly been let down by those who I had been signposted to reach out to. 

More importantly, I set this up because I learned that there wasn’t a student voice, other than the Students’ Union’s Vice President of Wellbeing & Diversity (formerly the VP of Welfare & Diversity), involved in campaigning for meaningful change to the attitude towards mental health and the way in which the university supported struggling students. Prior to Mentality, the Students’ Union ran the Mental Health Network, alongside the other networks but it was unfortunately left behind after the Democracy Review transformed the other Networks into Collectives. 

What do we do?

Over the last few months, Mentality, along with all of the other societies and sports groups, have been navigating the Covid-19 situation and making the best of what was available. However, if you’ve been following us on RHUL Mentality (both on Facebook and Instagram), I am sure you will have seen some of the projects we’ve been working on. At the time of publication, we will have completed our joint-project with the Royal Holloway History Society for the Remembrance Day commemorations that marked the 102nd anniversary of the end of the Great War in which we took a focus on mental health and ‘shell-shock’ during the Great War. We’re also looking at organising virtual events for our members to get involved with the society where we can discuss campaigns and projects, connect with each other, and come together as a community. 

How can people get involved?

As a committee, we didn’t believe charging for membership was the way to go and therefore we’ve made membership for the society free. We’re always looking for passionate members to come forward with campaign ideas and we’ll be hosting some brainstorming events in the future. For now, the best way to get involved and stay up-to-date is to like and follow our Facebook and Instagram pages (RHUL Mentality) and pick up membership for the society.