Mental Health conference report

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Grey background with words Mental health awareness in black text with Union logo in yellow

I have been to a few conferences in my time as a student but none as stimulating as the 2019 East Midlands Mental Health conference that I attended on the 4th of September at the University of Derby. This was funded for me by the Union of Students who had acknowledged that this was an amazing and unique opportunity for me to not only gain some valuable experience, but to also network with professionals while representing the university as Part time officer for Mental Health awareness.

The conference was hosted by First Steps the Eating disorder support organisation which was set up in 2004 to provide non-judgemental support for people suffering with eating disorders living within the Derbyshire area. Cathy Cleary the organisations founder and First Steps ED CEO Kevin Parkinson welcomed 150 delegates including myself to a day of interesting talks and lectures from world leading experts.

Key note speakers included Paediatric psychologist Doctor Ian Frampton who gave a talk on the neurobiology of eating disorders, Professor Paul Crawford who spoke of using creative practice to bring human back to mental health and wellbeing, Doctor Dominique Thomson who was part of the original UK universities Student mental health services task force introduced us to key themes to consider with student mental heath and to top all this we also had a talk from the University of Derbys own Professor Paul Gilbert, founder of Compassionate focused therapy who I was glad to say was able to inspire us all with his theories.

At lunch I was honoured to be sat among all the amazing delegates that had visited and had some fantastic conversations with wellbeing professionals, doctors and even the keynote speaker Doctor Dominique Thomson who spoke about and showed us her book ‘How to grow a grown up’ that at the time had not been published, she was very excited.

After lunch there were further talks which included one about alternative therapies to improve mental health and a lecture given by a new charity organisation called happy space that outlined a case study on improving transition between colleges into university.

This was a day filled with so many brilliant learning opportunities and I also gained Continuing Professional Development (CPD) accredited points to help with my future career aspirations.Now I have returned this has supported me in my role, championing Mental Health Awareness via our new facebook group (all welcome) and supporting upcoming events such as Wobble Week (4th-10th November, helping students adjust to the new academic year), the Student Wellbeing Advisory Group on November 7th and the Love Your Mind event on 12th November.

Annaline Jones, Equality Officer (Mental Health Awareness)

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