Derby College Group’s (DCG) Student Mental Health Society and the role of one of its key members have been recognised with national awards.

The society and the work of A Level student Bhavandeep Bains in this and other activities was amongst more than 500 entries for The National Societies and Volunteering Awards which celebrate student volunteering and societies in UK colleges and universities.

The student-led society won the Wellbeing Award and 17-year-old Bhavan was highly commended in the Extra Mile award.

DCG’s Student Mental Health Society aims to help students learn and share knowledge with each and instigate conversations to breakdown the stigma around mental.

It was launched initially for students at the Joseph Wright Centre and is now being rolled out across all colleges in DCG: The Roundhouse, Broomfield Hall and Ilkeston Community College.

Bhavan has drawn on her own experiences of mental health issues, bullying and the challenges of being a young carer to help improve services for young people by getting involved in local and national research into the issue which is then discussed with health professionals.

Now in her second year at college, she has been recognised for her work to help set up the society and, as a member of the Student Council at JWC, being an advocate for student wellbeing, the Students’ Union, clubs, societies and enrichment available in and around Derby College.

Bhavan said: “When I started my A Levels at the Joseph Wright Centre, I was keen to use my previous experience to support other students and help shape mental health and wellbeing support available here.

“As welfare officer for the JWC student council, I got a small group together to set up a Student Mental Health Society and we now have hundreds of members.

“The society is led by the students for the students because we know each other better than anyone else.

“We meet regularly to share knowledge, support each other and to work with the College welfare team to have our say on what services are available and how they are delivered.”

She continued: “Mental health and wellbeing is different for every individual but a common experience over the past year has been lockdown fatigue. Many young people have found it difficult to stay motivated to keep on top of college work and other challenges in life such as extreme loneliness.

“As well as supporting each other, the society focuses on student progression and skill enhancement. Students can use the society’s resources and connections to create materials related to welfare and wellbeing such as podcasts which can be shared across the different colleges.”

DCG Students’ Union development manager Mark Rugman, who nominated the Society and Bhavan for the awards, concluded: “The Student Mental Health Society was set up during November 2020, during the pandemic and has been an important part of the overall support available to students during the past year.

“Bhavan’s role in this and many other activities across the college and as part of the Student Union has been incredible and we are delighted that her commitment and that of everyone involved in the Society has been recognised in this way.”

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