College students in charity fundraiser

Owen Fiddy and Josh Arrow are raising money for Beat, the UK’s number one eating disorder charity. 

Owen Fiddy and Josh Arrow are raising money for Beat, the UK’s number one eating disorder charity. - Credit: Beat

Just last week it was University Mental Health Day, and the importance of awareness seems to grow every year alongside the number of those affected.

Last year, between October to November, 11 university students took their own lives. 

In 2018, The Guardian reported that, according to the Office of National Statistics, the year leading up to July 2017, 95 students died by suicide. This means one student suicide every four days.

Students’ mental health can also extend to substance misuse, eating disorders, severe anxiety and so on.

A study exclusive to The Guardian, which polled 37,500 students at 140 different universities across England, Wales, and Scotland, reported 75.6 per cent concealed their symptoms to friends over the surrounding stigma of mental illness.

University mental health awareness has always been a big topic concern, however we can only assume that mental wellness is under a more serious strain with the current circumstances.

The glamourised student experience creates a certain expectation when considering higher education.

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The statements ‘friends for life’ and ‘the best years of your life’ are recycled year after year from alumni friends and family.

So, what do you do if your own experience is not the happy-go-lucky movie montage? 

Two students from South Devon College, Owen Fiddy and Josh Arrow, are creating awareness for mental health with a sponsored walk, which you can donate at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/owen-fiddy-josh-arrow. 

All proceeds will be given to Beat, the UK’s number one eating disorder charity. 

Owen Fiddy said: "Eating disorders are the one of many mental illnesses students can battle. It is not only detrimental to their physical health but mentally, it is scarring. 

"According to the Beat website, around 725,000 people are affected by eating disorders each year in the UK, and one in five females aged 16 to 24 battle with one.

"Looking at our female cohort of students and staff at South Devon College, Josh and I have decided that we will hold a ‘socially distanced’ sponsored walk around the college... in maid outfits.

"Completely PPE friendly and with the pavement as our runway, it will be a statement to say it is OK to not feel comfortable in the way you look but to also be kind in loving your appearance. 

"Eating disorders, or any mental illness, can trick the brain into thinking the cruellest things.

"So when you see us, let it be a reminder that even on a bad, terrible, no good, completely nerve-wrecking day that you can conquer it."

Beat’s helpline is available online or by phone at 0808 801 0677. The helpline is open 365 days a year for anyone suffering, no matter age or gender.