That Festive Feeling

Winter is here and this time of year is often associated with feelings of happiness and joy. But the reality for many is often quite different and can leave them feeling down in the dumps.

From financial pressure to family feuds; there are many reasons why the festive season brings only stress and worry for some. And for others, it may be a case of feeling those winter blues. SAD, or Seasonal Affective Disorder, is a fairly common phenomenon thought to be caused by a lack of exposure to sunlight.

Often it’s a case of being patient and waiting it out, but there are a few things you can do to help get you back on track for some Christmas cheer.

 

  1. Get outside – even just 15 minutes may be enough to help improve your overall wellbeing through the winter months. If this isn’t possible, try to sit near a window or invest in a SAD lamp or ‘light box’, this is meant to mimic natural sunlight, although their effectiveness is still debated.

 

  1. Take regular exercise – preferably outside if possible. There are now several studies which suggest that exercise is as effective as drug therapy for the treatment of mood disorders.

 

 

  1. Eat a healthy diet – this goes without saying, overall good health and wellbeing is far more achievable if your body is receiving the correct balance of nutrients and energy.

 

  1. Talking therapies – there are different options available through the NHS if you wish to do this formally. Alternatively, ensure you meet regularly with friends who you can talk about your feelings with and live an active social life or join a local social group in your area. Interacting with others can help to boost mood significantly.

 

 

  1. Volunteer – helping others is a sure fire way to boost your move and what better time of year is there to do it than at Christmas! There are many vulnerable groups of people who require support; including the homeless and those living in poverty. Volunteering at a food bank or even just donating a few spare tins could really help make a difference to someone’s Christmas this year.

*To reference/cite this blog as follows: The MICE Hub, Friday 22nd December 2017, That Festive Feeling.*

*Please note: All opinions expressed are that solely of the MICE Hub and its associates*

Student Minds – Mental Health Support for Students

Student Minds is the UK’s student mental health charity who empower students and members of the university community to develop the knowledge, confidence and skills to look after their own mental health, support others and create change. Student Minds train students and staff in universities across the UK to deliver student-led peer support interventions as well as research-driven campaigns and workshops. By working collaboratively across sectors, they share best practice and ensure that the student voice influences decisions about student mental health.

Starting university can be a wonderful and exciting experience, but it can also bring its own unique challenges. It’s natural to feel nervous or overwhelmed during the first few weeks at university, and it can be a while before you feel like you’ve found your feet. Student Minds works to transform the state of student mental health so that all in Higher Education can thrive, including you!

A picture of an Apple Mac computer keyboard.

It is common to worry about moving to university, and is important to remember that you won’t be the only one feeling this way. Read about other students’ experiences of starting university and what they wish they had known when they started. Find tips for students, written by students on the Student Minds Blog.

Hannah Morton is a University of Portsmouth alumni and is now employed as a Students’ Union Advice Administrator. She was previously featured on The MICE Hub. You can find out more about Hannah’s experience and how she has learned to manage her own mental health issues through our previous post.

Before moving to university, it is helpful to find out what support is available on your campus. At the University of Portsmouth, student support services includes; the Student Wellbeing Service, The Wellbeing Café and the Student Union Advice Centre to help support with adjusting to student life and general wellbeing. For specific support with studying, the University of Portsmouth has ASDAC – Additional Support and Disability Advice Centre.

Prior to your arrival at university make sure you do the following:

  • Disclose any pre-existing mental health difficulties to your university
  • Register for a doctor in your new city
  • Find out about your university counselling services
  • Read our Look After Your Mate guide to find out how you can support your peers
  • Check out our further support page
  • More tips are available here.

 

*With special thanks to Grace Anderson, Fundraising and Communications Manager, Student Minds  and Hannah Morton, Student Adviser Administrator, University of Portsmouth Students’ Union*

 

Please reference this article as follows: The MICE Hub and Anderson, G., 10th November 2017, Student Minds – Mental Health Support for Students. 

 

Research Seminar: The Value of multi-sited Ethnography for Researching and Informing Effective Adoption Education in the United States

The School of Education and Childhood Studies was pleased to host its October research seminar with The MICE Hub. The session was presented by Dr Rachael Stryker, Associate Professor, Department of Human Development and Women’s Studies, California State University. The research focus included the holistic well-being of the adoptive families who formed part of the study, as well as how to effectively inform adoption education programs. Ten years of ethnographic research was summarised, indicating cultural differences which influenced the expectations of US parents who adopted from Russia. This highlighted the impact of geo-political agendas and cross-cultural influences when considering attachment socialisation throughout the adoptive process.

The research was well received and a quote from one of the delegates summarised the talk by saying,

“I thought Rachael showed a strong level of knowledge and expertise which is clearly something you need from a speaker. I was also impressed by the way she took a subject that wasn’t of inherent interest to my work and made it totally compelling.”

 

Dr. Stryker introduced the qualitative studies that were carried out to uncover themes that informed the adoption experience of US parents and Russian children. Since Russian adoption began in 1991, choices are driven by religious beliefs as well as cultural influences such as babies not adopted before 6 months of age. Clear social differences emerged, such as the use of language – describing children as ‘idiots’ and ‘imbeciles’ and high instances of fetal alcohol syndrome.

It was explained that parents were having difficulty bonding with their adopted child and social expectations of attachment were not met. The biomedical model labelled these children as having an inability to attach and inadvertently blamed the child which led to the use of therapies that involved discipline in order to force the child to attach, including cathartic (holding) therapy. This raised questions about how children are socialised in Russia and implored the use of the ethnosemantic methods so that the story (narrative) could be heard.

It emerged that Soviet socialism and the nativism approach had a great impact on how children viewed themselves. These children believed that they belonged to the state. The Russian approach to parenting includes non-responsive care in order to ‘toughen-up’ up their children which changed the children’s expectations and trained them out of attachment. It was necessary to expand US adoptive parents’ perspectives on what they thought they know about wellbeing so that they could create the space that their adopted child needed and acknowledge that different issues originated from different places.

Prospective parents reported feeling nervous and anxious as they wanted to ensure that they were doing the right thing. Following adoption, parents were asked what they wish they had known beforehand. It is also important to acknowledge that different parents have different experiences and may not always seek support. An important aspect for any parent is the provision of education for the children and many parents expressed concern about this. The program sought to explore ideas about what education should look like for the adopted children.

The Institute for Internationally Adopting Families collected data over the course of the project to identify themes. This led to the ‘Whole Child’ Program which was centred on the whole family and focused on discussing specific issues they were experiencing with anthropologists and why these issues may have arisen. Parental satisfaction was reported through the filling of gaps in knowledge which reduced their anxiety.

Dr Stryker concludes that, there is value in cross-cultural, trans-national adoption but the overlaps need to be addressed. Future studies will look at institutional versus family culture and follow-up studies will be carried out. This was a fantastic insight for staff and students at the University of Portsmouth to consider cross-cultural aspects and influences of children’s wellbeing and how approaching issues from a different perspective may be the key to finding solutions in terms of supporting the holistic wellbeing of families and the education of children.