Future mindfulness master
As a student, the pressure to succeed – to achieve top grades and gain relevant workplace skills, while also making new friends and having experiences worth showing off on social media – can feel overwhelming. But sometimes, says University of Glasgow postgraduate psychology student Chloe Walsh, the best way to reach your potential is to do nothing and relax.
Originally from a small town in Newfoundland, Canada, Chloe saw how depression, anxiety and stress could affect the people around her during her undergraduate degree. Over a series of years, a number of students committed suicide around mid-terms. Now studying for a Masters in psychology, her ambition is to improve mental health by promoting mindfulness, normalising the language used to speak about mental wellbeing, and reducing the stigma of asking for help. Throughout 2017-18, she will be raising awareness of mental health issues on campus, and looking for ways to improve student wellbeing.
"If someone is off work, perhaps they’ve broken their leg, then there's no question that they're hurt. There's a doctor; there's an x-ray you can show. But if someone is depressed, then they can't show an x-ray. I want to make it as easy for someone to see a psychologist as it is for them to see a GP, by normalising that and spreading the message that mental health is important – just as important as physical health.
In the small town where I grew up, there are a lot of mental health issues. There was a three- or four-year period where mid-terms were cancelled because someone in the student body committed suicide. I think a big reason why I have been drawn to psychology is that there are so many things out there that can help people; they just need to be aware of them.
Seeing a psychologist – there can be a number of reasons why people find that hard. At home, I know there's a long wait list. A lot of people can't go because it's not covered by their health plan. Even if you can afford it, I think some people don't want to go because they can feel like it's weak to admit that they are feeling overwhelmed. Instead, they suffer in silence. They may not realise – oh there's actually a name for the reason I feel this way. It's not just me being silly and it's not all in my head.
My dad is a psychologist and my mum's a guidance counsellor, so I've grown up in this. I went to uni and I didn’t want to be a psychologist; it wasn’t even on my radar. But then I started learning about psychology and I realised: I love this. I literally can't deny it; I need to do this as a job. I worked with young people with autism for two years and that gave me a lot of insight. Even my own experiences at university, being stressed out and finding ways to deal with my own issues taught me a lot.
I started reading and learned about mindfulness-based therapy and yoga. It's just life changing once you learn about it. I’d like more people to be aware how useful it can be as way to cope. Mindfulness is about using your senses and being grounded in one moment. Taking a moment out can help if you’re feeling overwhelmed. I brought my yoga mat with me to university as a carry-on item on the plane and I go to a flow class at the gym.
In the future, I can't see myself doing anything else but this. It's just so much a part of my life now; I love it. I want to learn as much as I can about it and to make a difference to as many lives as I can."
Future World Changers
Chloe is part of the UofG Future World Changers group: students with ambitions that could improve the lives of many. Check the website and/or connect with us on social media to follow the progress of all of our UofG Future World Changers as they pursue their goals.