The return of No More Blue Mondays
We talk to PhD student, Vivek Santayana, about the revitalised student-led initiative to promote mental wellbeing among postgraduate students.
No More Blue Mondays was started in 2014 by PhD students, Sarah Sharp and Lucy Hinnie.
Fast forward four years, and Sarah and Lucy have now either finished - or are due to complete - their degrees, leaving No More Blue Mondays (NMBM) ready to enter a new phase.
Having placed postgraduate and early career wellbeing firmly on the agenda in the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures (LLC), Sarah and Lucy have now handed over to current PhD students, Vicki Madden and Vivek Santayana.
The aim is to create a community for students to support each other through the challenges they face during the course of their research, provide information about support and wellbeing services, and organise events about practical strategies for dealing with mental and physical health.
Dispelling stigma and reducing emotional burden
A two-time graduate of the University of Edinburgh, Vivek Santayana is highly active in postgraduate life in LLC and the wider University community. He is a volunteer for the charity, Health in Mind, and has been trained in mental health first aid.
Talking about he got involved in NMBM, Vivek mentions how “through discussions initiated by the Women’s and Non-Binary Group in LLC, I became more conscious of the gender politics of mental health and unpaid labour in the department, and the disparity between, on one hand, the high rates of depression-related suicide amongst men under the age of 45, and the disproportionate emotional burden on women to provide support for mental wellbeing in professional capacities or otherwise.”
“NMBM aims to dispel the stigma associated with mental illness, and encourage students to seek the required support by signposting them to resources available at the university and in the city. Vicki and I volunteered to take this over because mental health is an issue we feel strongly about. Moreover, it is important for the unpaid, emotional labour of this kind of work at the university to be distributed more equitably between genders.”
Creating a sense of community
What is it about LLC that makes it a good place for student-led initiatives? For Vivek, it’s the fact that “the staff are always supportive of such initiatives and are generous with their time and energy. The availability of the student-led initiative fund makes it possible for us to start initiatives like this, and it ensures we have the resources we need.”
On a personal level: “These initiatives help situate our research within a much wider academic culture, creating a sense of community and belonging amongst students and faculty. It also helps to know that we have the kinds of support we need for our academic work and our wellbeing.”
No More Blue Mondays hosts regular coffee mornings for graduate students in LLC during term-time, the next dates being 14th and 28th May. You can find out more on the new NMBM website, which also has a recently-updated resources page.