College marks World Mental Health and Homelessness Awareness Day with formidable guest speakers

College marks World Mental Health and Homelessness Awareness Day with formidable guest speakers

10:07 12 October in Member News

Barnsley College marked World Mental Health and Homelessness Awareness Day by welcoming six speakers who gave powerful talks displaying the realities of homelessness and mental health.

Each of the six guests spoke from personal or professional experience, and sessions were held across campuses, so a wide breadth of students were reached.

Among those who delivered sessions was Claire Throssell MBE, who spoke about her relationship with her abusive ex-husband who, in 2014, killed himself and their two sons in a deadly fire that he deliberately started.

She spoke about domestic abuse, which can cause serious mental health issues for victims, and how young people can spot the signs.

Claire said: “I would say the more young people know about domestic abuse, the more experienced they become and the better they can identify the signs.

“When they learn what the signs are, in their hearts and in their minds, they can identify them.

“The more we talk about love bombing, gaslighting and the modern issues around stalking and social media, the more equipped young people will be for going off to university and for adult life; being able to identify any potential abuse in their romantic relationships or even friend and family relationships.

“Educating young people about the signs of domestic abuse really can help to prevent it.”

Jaz O’Hara, a Human Rights Defender, also spoke from a deeply personal perspective. She shared the story of her foster brother, Mez, who came to the UK with nothing after being forced to flee his home in Eritrea in Eastern Africa.

She spoke more widely about refugees and asylum seekers and some of the common misconceptions surrounding them, and her experience of visiting the Calais ‘Jungle’.

Other speakers included Nick Knowles, a South Yorkshire Police Force Suicide Prevention and Vulnerability Officer; Michelle Kaye, who spoke about teenage homelessness; Depaul, who advised on understanding youth homelessness, and Craig Walton, who spoke about overcoming mental health struggles following a head-on collision last year which caused his leg to be amputated.

Jess Leech, Assistant Principal for Students at Barnsley College, added: “It will always be immensely important for us to raise awareness of and address issues such as mental health and wellbeing.

“As a College, we’re dedicated to making services available, and aim to equip our students with information, skills and techniques that support them to manage their mental health wellbeing, both during their studies and beyond.

“I would like to say a huge thank you to the guest speakers who kindly came in and shared their knowledge and personal experiences with our students.

“Sessions like these really hit home and remind us how real these issues are and how important awareness, recognition and support for wellbeing is.”

Kieran Bridges
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