A St Catharine’s undergraduate student has been confirmed as Co-Men’s Officer and College Representative for Student Minds Cambridge. Kit Treadwell (2019, ASNC) will be drawing upon his personal experiences of mental illness to raise awareness of mental health issues among students, liaising with the University to improve support for students with mental illness, and running events and creating resources to aid student welfare.
Student Minds is a nationwide mental health charity that aims to empower students and members of the university community to look after their own mental health, support others and create change. The University of Cambridge branch is led by a committee of students, with representatives for every College.
Kit’s new position on the committee complements the different ways that he has already been supporting others and discussing mental health issues during his first year at Catz. He has published articles in the student newspaper Varsity and shared insights about his own mental health as @cambtweetasnac for the #CambTweet project, which helps prospective students find out about life at Cambridge. Until recently, as part of his department’s student committee, he was running sessions for 14 offer-holders (all of whom secured places in August).
While Kit has experienced an open and supportive culture at Catz, he is eager to seed this across the University and set an example for others by speaking out about his own mental health:
“My mental health started to suffer during A Levels and worsened in the summer before I arrived at Cambridge. I was diagnosed with depression, which caused self-harming and suicidal behaviours, but the help I was offered only went so far because I honestly didn’t realise the severity of these issues. It took a few months, and support from my friends and the Catz Welfare team, to recognise the issues I was facing and find the right sort of help for me. I’m now four months clear of any self-harming behaviour, thanks to regular sessions with a therapist organised by Catz.”
Kit adds, “Due to these first-hand experience of mental health issues and natural curiosity, I wanted to find information on access to mental health provision in Cambridge so I approached Mary Simuyandi, the College’s Welfare Officer. She referred me to Student Minds and the rest, as they say, is history!”
Now he’s in post, Kit will be focusing on key milestones in the coming weeks: World Suicide Prevention Day 2020 on 10 September, World Mental Health Day on 10 October and the arrival of Freshers and other students for the new academic year.
“In the run up to the start of term, it is important to promote the open culture at Catz and encourage anyone who feels like they might be starting to struggle to reach out for support – and to try however many routes you need until you find the support that works for you. Whether your mental health challenges are impacting your studies or limiting your enjoyment of life at Cambridge in other ways, please raise this with your friends, Tutor, our Welfare team or whoever you feel comfortable talking with.”
Longer term, Kit plans to contribute regularly to the Student Minds Cambridge blog and raise awareness of the challenges presented by the stigmatisation of mental illness.
Find out more about student welfare support at St Catharine’s, including information about helplines for independent confidential support.