According to the World Health Organisation, mental wellbeing is a dynamic state in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community. It also entails an emotional resilience which enables us to navigate through and experience the ups and downs of life — the joy and pain, the excitement and disappointment. That ability to appreciate life despite its struggles also requires flexibility as one must continuously juggle and find a balance between conflicting needs, goals, duties and responsibilities. Together with the physical, social and emotional, mental well-being allows us to engage productively and effectively with family, peers and colleagues.

Efforts to strike a balance between the demands of academic life, societal expectations and reality have left many young people feeling frustrated, overwhelmed and deeply anxious. The expectation of ‘having it all together’ at all times plus the race towards unrealistic life goals has fostered a persecutory perfectionism among young adults and this often manifests as anxiety, self-harm, depression, eating disorders, and dissatisfaction with oneself and one’s personal achievements. This is compounded by the feeling of isolation despite various virtual connections and significantly impacts how students feel about themselves and how they engage with student life. Underlying causes vary from person to person, with some having nothing to do with the uni experience, although the demands of the academic journey can become potential stress triggers, ultimately impeding academic progress and personal development.

It’s taken for granted that good grades are achieved at the expense of disrupted sleep, anxiety, periods of stress and depression. While higher education can be overwhelming and challenging, the tendency to dismiss it as a norm, that university is just a period of stress and suffering that everyone has to go through creates a societal and personal stigma that makes the pursuit of mental well-being even more difficult. Students are then often reluctant to seek help, particularly for mental health illnesses, which studies reveal are alarmingly increasing as evidenced by the rise in cases of psychological distress and illness in universities. While mental health difficulties can develop at any stage in life, there has been growing concern in the student demographic as a highly vulnerable group.

Between writing long essays, studying for exams, pulling long hours into research for your dissertation and trying to maintain some sort of social life, it may seem like there’s just no time for anything else. It feels like there is an incredible pressure to excel in everything. It’s true that university is taxing and stressful but your mental well-being is crucial for you to get through that phase of life (and every other phase as well). Life only gets more complex and challenging as we transition and navigate through different stages ( just think back to how learning to write your name was such a big deal and the only worries you had were if you missed watching a certain cartoon after school). The pursuit of mental well-being, you will soon find, is a life-long exercise and it takes more than implementing “11 Steps to Boost Your Mental Health”. It involves taking care of your emotional, physical and mental needs constantly and consistently.

Now that you know this, it’s time to re-commit to taking better care of yourself ( it probably was one of those new year’s resolutions that never really made it beyond the list in your diary). Start today. On one of your study breaks, take a few minutes to jot down your achievements so far. Keep that note safe and every time you ever find yourself comparing yourself to your peers and apparently failing at life, look at that list of achievements. You did that! Now grab a bottle of water and place it within arm’s reach. Take a sip now and then, it’s amazing how keeping hydrated will keep you alert (plus all the trips to the bathroom will give you a bit of exercise). Try going to bed 30 minutes earlier tonight, and unplug — from your phone, from the internet, from social media especially. Instead, play your favourite song and just take those 30 minutes to relax and ease into a good night’s sleep.

Tomorrow is another day and you’ll tackle its challenges in the morning.

‘Tis the season of exams!

For many, the experience of entering an examination hall, locating a desk by candidate number or name and taking a seat to tackle a blank booklet and unknown questions evokes daunting feelings of mild panic and sweaty palms. One would think the anxiety would lessen as you climb the academic ladder, but for some, it only gets worse. With exams often constituting a large part of overall academic assessment, the only way to conquer the fear of exams is to prepare yourself adequately for them. Here are a few tips to get you started:

1. Study Timetable

Planning when and what to revise takes a bit of effort and establishing a schedule of your revision material is a great place to start. Set yourself a realistic and achievable timeline to cover the necessary material, outlining daily goals. With a schedule in place, it will be easier to breakdown your revision topics and assess your progress. While working styles and commitments differ, a daily planner will help you establish a routine for your day and compel you to prioritise your revision, with little room for procrastination. Allow for flexibility though, plans can change but having one will keep you in line.

2. Unplug

How often do you turn to your phone for the latest tweet, to check a notification or just simply to look procrastinate? As you prepare for exams, every minute counts and you cannot afford to spend two hours on YouTube watching babies squirming as they bite into a lemon wedge for the first time. Eliminating distractions is hard! Most of us struggle with self-discipline when it comes to social media and will need to uninstall our Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat apps during exam season. And, if you really cannot unplug completely for a few weeks, allocate yourself time to catch up with your friends’ stories on the revision schedule, so that you keep account of how much time you are spending on social media.

3. Take care of yourself

The temptation to live on fast food, energy drinks and coffee during exam season is understandable because there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to make a wholesome meal. However, its equally important to consider what you are consuming as much as what you’re reading as eating well and drinking lots of water will keep you energetic and refreshed. Take a walk to the park during one of your study breaks and just clear your mind with a change of scenery. And while you may be inclined to pull a few all-nighters, get some sleep and allow your body to rest well.

4. Teamwork

‘If you want to go fast, go alone. But if you want to go far, go together.’ You can cover a great deal by reading alone, but having a group of mates to study with will help you cover more topics and give you new insights into a topic that you may have overlooked or would have simply never considered. This is not to say you ought to substitute your own reading time for group sessions, rather strike a balance between the two and ensure that you’re reading enough to contribute to the study group. Use the group as a place to bounce off ideas and seek help when you’re stuck on alternative opinions on a topic.

Ultimately, doing well in your exams is a careful balance of a number of skills: being intentional and productive with your time, staying focused and through taking care of yourself throughout this stressful period.

All the best!

When it comes to views about Europe, it’s well known that Germany and the UK differ sharply. Research after the Brexit vote shows that 68% of Germans are in favor of the European Union and only 11% would support withdrawal. Compare this with 54% of UK respondents who are favorable to the EU.

Similarly, during the 2017 general election campaign in Germany, nearly one third of Germans backed politician Martin Schulz’s idea for a “United States of Europe” by 2025. The corresponding figure for Britain was just 10%. And it seems these differences might run as deep as the way children are taught about Europe in school—as the findings of our latest research indicate.

We analyzed the treatment of the European Union in a sample of social studies and politics textbooks from both Germany and England. And we found that the way Europe is depicted in some English and German textbooks for secondary schools differs considerably. In English books there is less coverage of Europe and a more critical approach compared with the German textbooks.

In the English textbooks, Europe was seen almost exclusively in political terms—with strong emphasis on the EU being a controversial issue. In one book for example, although there are references to the European Convention on Human Rights along with the European court and a brief mention of the European Economic Area, most of the limited space given to Europe is about the European Union—and about “different viewpoints on EU membership.”

In the German books there was a very different approach: Europe is seen more expansively and positively with an integrated approach to politics and identity. The German textbooks also had references to Europe being “our historical, cultural and intellectual home,” a “community of values,” and, a place where “enemies became friends.”

The research

We looked at four English textbooks and nine German textbooks and compared the way Europe was covered. Overall we found that the textbooks from Germany deal with Europe in much greater detail and with more of a positive angle than those published in England.

We found that Europe not only receives more prominence in German textbooks but is covered with more breadth. Both sets of textbooks place a major focus on the political system of the EU but German books also include economic and cultural dimensions. And a number of German textbooks had separate chapters or sections on the political system of the EU and Europe as a cultural entity. Unlike the English books, some German materials also presented clear anticipated loyalties to Europe.

The project was informed by previous research, particularly, work undertaken by one of the project team which involved interviewing 2,000 young people across 29 European countries. The project aimed to find out how young people in Europe construct their political identities—which we found often transcend traditional boundaries of state and nation.

But we found that although both the English textbooks and German textbooks largely reflect the prevailing political climate in each country, they don’t necessarily reflect the views of young people. Young people in Germany and England share rather similar views about Europe. They are committed to certain values (which are seen as both general and European) and although young people are not just accepting of European identity and European loyalty without questions, there is, among both groups—but particularly the Germans—a sense of being European. This is not reflected in English textbooks.

Young voices

The range of activities in the German books is also far wider than those provided in the English books. Whereas the German books build on a sense of European identity by providing opportunities for varied student interaction including more work than the English books on advocacy, representation, and informed and responsible action.

By contrast, English books use brief individual reading exercises to consider the pros and cons of European membership. One book, for example, provides a list of “benefits and costs of EU membership” and then asks students to “design slides or charts to summarize the benefits and costs of EU membership.” The English texts also encouraged students to visit the websites of UK political parties for news on their position on EU membership.

This echoes the political context in England, where the Brexit debate is not one concerned with dynamic engagement but one associated with an equally balanced weighing up of pros and cons of membership. And in this way, we found that the nature of the educational activities that are available to teachers and students in our sample of textbooks tends to reflect national narratives.

Education in both countries is principally a matter of socialising young people into an established national narrative. This may seem to be easier to justify in Germany where there is a stronger alignment between the views of young people and (according to our textbook analysis) the content of learning resources. But in both countries, there are issues about the extent to which schools are the mirror of society and essentially engaged with promoting established views.

It seems then that in both countries, the most contentious issue of the 21st-century—the European Union—is simply being presented as a reflection of the existing national narrative for future generations.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

ISH want every young Londoner to be safe.
London is one of the safest cities in the world. Yet knife crime is ruining far too many lives, devastating communities and leaving families bereaved. We want the young people of London to realise how incredible they are and the potential they have.

As part of our new Volunteering Society, we are planning to get involved with local community projects and work with young people to help them shine and inspire them. We need inspirational young adults such as yourselves to be involved. Would you be interested in helping transform lives? Get in touch now.

If you are worried about knife or gun crime you can contact fearless.org anonymously online at www.fearless.org/en for more information about gun and knife crime and the law. Or, call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 if you want to report a crime that has already happened.

If you don’t feel safe in any situation you should leave/run and then tell someone why you have left. Go to a nearby home of somebody you trust, a friend, ISH, police station or local government building i.e. town hall, where you will be safe. Also, speak to your Universities International Student Adviser / Security Officer who can help you find a safe route to and from University.

Don’t be afraid to be strong and do the right thing.

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