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Student success for mental health awareness society at University of Leeds

Megan Sockling, 19, is the founder of SSAFE (Suicide Support and Awareness for All).

The association was created to help improve the “mental well-being” of society.

For Meghan’s family, lockdown has been very difficult.

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Students started a group called the University of Leeds Suicide Prevention Society.. Photo by Megan Sockling: Simon Holme

Speaking to YEP, she told how her brother struggled with his mental health and attempted suicide several times over the course of six months.

Meghan, who is from Eastbourne but moved to Leeds five years ago, said her family had seen a “lack of support” for relatives of those affected by mental health in this way.

Keen to make a difference, she returned to university and set out to create a community to inform and educate her peers. Her ambition is to work with mental health charities and education platforms to spread the message.

with Secretary Chloe Davison, 19; Treasurer Alex Simpson-Hayter, 19, and Edwina O’Connor, 21, school liaison, Meghan had hoped the community would succeed in their goals.

Students started a group called the University of Leeds Suicide Prevention Society.. Pictured from left is Edwina O’Connor, Megan Sucking and Alex Simpson Eater. Pic: Simon Holme

Since its inception, the association has gained hundreds of followers and hosted a number of lectures within the university.

Speaking to YEP, Megan said: “We now have a seven-member panel that helps with promotional events and welfare as well.

“There are 15 members who have signed up with us but over 70 members to our mailing list, 160 followers and more members to come when we host a booth in our new start week at the University of Leeds.”

Alex Simpson-Hayter, 19, said the group hosted a “give it first” event in October.

She added, “It was a tea and talk session that focused on the word ‘stigma’.”

In general, it means a negative opinion or thought associated with a particular activity, word, or feeling.

“In the session we talked about stigma in relation to mental health and suicide, as everyone shared their experiences of stigma and ways to get rid of it.

“We had a fun activity at the end where we all wrote on a piece of paper and collected our feelings and thoughts which provided a helpful experience for those negatively affected by this! It was a lovely session with a good turnout for a new new association!”

“Everyone who attended the session expressed how they found the session really useful and can’t wait for future events.

“He showed us that community is a really positive thing that can have a huge impact on students on campus and hopefully go beyond that.”

Rhiannon Stiller, 19, is the association’s publicist.

She said, “I love producing different graphics and content so I am very happy with my position on the committee.

“My goals are to raise awareness of suicide prevention and mental health online, as well as showcase the various fundraising events that we hope to carry out throughout the new year.

“This community has really progressed so far this past year, I can’t wait to see how far it will go in 2022.”

Planned events for the New Year including a well-being event with therapy dogs, papyrus training on suicide prevention, fortnightly tea and talks and various fundraising activities such as a pub quiz.

The group also plans to go to schools from next year to give advice.

Anyone interested in following the community can visit their Instagram page at @luussafe

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