The first in our series on what it’s like to work in purpose driven organisations, one of our alumni, Nick, shares his experience working at Student Minds.
What does Student Minds do, and what’s your role in the organisation?
Student Minds is the UK’s student mental health charity. By training students to run support groups or awareness campaigns, running workshops for staff, or working with HE sector leaders to recommend best practice, we’re doing what we can to transform the state of student mental health. While I’ve been at Student Minds, I’ve been responsible for leading our communications (social media and the Student Minds Blog), working on awareness campaigns such as University Mental Health Day and coordinating a network of student campaigners.
What’s challenging about working at Student Minds?
Working for a small charity, you get given a lot of responsibility very quickly and that’s an incredible opportunity, but it’s also quite intimidating! While I came into the role with a fair amount of relevant experience from university, getting the freedom to choose my targets was a big learning curve.
The challenge of working in communications is working out the impact of my work. When working in mental health and on behaviour change campaigns particularly, it’s tricky to measure how impactful your actions are, so I’ve had to learn to decide ‘how can I use my time to best impact student’s mental health?’ quickly.
What would help someone to thrive in a role at Student Minds?
Empathy and experience of giving or receiving support. We’re a very emotionally aware bunch, and this helps us to empower our volunteers in the best possible way. In particular, when I’m helping students write stories about their mental health, I want to be as supportive and compassionate as possible to ensure they have a positive experience of talking about their mental health. I learned a lot during my time as a Nightline volunteer at university, so I would definitely recommend others to get involved in a student society or volunteer for a mental health group.
What makes working for Student Minds so great?
Attitudes towards mental health are moving in such a positive direction at the moment, it feels like we’re riding a wave as more and more people join mental health campaigns or open up about their experiences of mental health difficulties. There’s still a long way to go, but knowing I’m playing a part in the movement is a huge motivator to keep me excited and looking forward to coming to work every morning. I also work with an amazing team who really love what they do and are endlessly supportive, and get to work with passionate volunteers at a grassroots level with their mental health societies.
If you’re a recent graduate or current student looking to work for a similar organisation, take a look at the Worthwhile graduate scheme.
This blog was adapted from one originally published at worthwhile.org.uk