In recognition of World Mental Health Day (October 10), Scottish Student Sport and NUS Scotland have launched the 2014/15 Healthy Body Healthy Mind Awards.
The Healthy Body Healthy Mind Awards are designed to promote good physical and mental health using creative and innovative means. To earn the award, institutions must run projects related to mental health and smoking prevention throughout the year and bring about practical changes on campus. Vital aspects include promoting healthy lifestyles and encouraging people to take care of their own physical and mental wellbeing given the well documented links between exercise and mental health.
The criteria and guidance have been refreshed and updated to include for the first year, actions around smoking prevention in support of the vision set out in the national tobacco strategy for a smoke-free Scotland.
Last year the first ever Healthy Body Healthy Mind Five Stars was awarded to Glasgow Caledonian University Students’ Association for their efforts to ensure that the sports facilities, the university, and external partners were engaged in a joint year-long programme of work that showed clear benefits to student health and wellbeing.
To gain a Healthy Body Healthy Mind Award, students’ associations and institutions work together throughout the year on a set of criteria defined by NUS Scotland and Scottish Student Sport. These criteria aim to improve the health and wellbeing of students and encourage practical, sustainable changes on campus. They then submit an evaluation report which is assessed by a panel of experts and awards are presented in June 2015.
The 2014/15 Healthy Body Healthy Mind Awards guidance can be found here.
Dr Andrew Murray, Physical Activity advisor, Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow, said:
"Taking care of your mental wellbeing is one of the most important things you can do, helping get good grades, improving health, and quality of life. The famous slogan ‘healthy body, healthy mind’ rings true, and it's been shown that small steps like walking regularly decreases rates of depression and anxiety, and actually increase happiness as well as improving academic performance. That's good bang for buck. Promoting regular exercise is important for students, colleges and universities, and policy makers. Each step is a step to better physical and mental health.
“Interestingly, rates of smoking have decreased in Scotland. This might be because smoking is seen as an unattractive habit by most, but also due to the cost of cigarettes and health implications, and the fact that colleges and universities have helped support smokers to stop through innovative and well thought out schemes which we want to ensure develop and reduce smoking rates in Scotland further.”
Michael Matheson, Minister for Public Health, said: m“The Scottish Government is delighted to support this excellent partnership between NUS Scotland and Scottish Student Sport.
“We want to create a tobacco-free generation by 2034 – meaning that less than five per cent of the population who smoke. We can only do that by discouraging young people from taking up the habit in the first place. That’s why this project is important, because it helps us to reach out to students and support them not to smoke.
“When you’re young and living away from home for the first time, health concerns might not be at the forefront of your mind. But smoking is extremely harmful to health, being associated with more than 13,000 deaths in Scotland every year. I look forward to hearing about the valuable work that universities and colleges are doing to get that important message across.”
Vonnie Sandlan, NUS Scotland Women’s Officer, said: “The Healthy Body Healthy Mind Awards ensure that a whole institution approach is taken to ensuring stigma and discrimination in relation to mental ill health is tackled, positive mental and physical health is promoted and student wellbeing is a focus for everyone. I’d urge students to contact their students’ association and make sure they are signed up, then get involved in the activities and projects, and have your ideas and voice heard.”
Stew Fowlie, Chief Operating Officer, Scottish Student Sport “Scottish Student Sport is delighted to be continuing its partnership with NUS Scotland in delivering the Healthy Body Healthy Mind Awards in 2014/15. These awards have been a real catalyst for driving change within HE and FE institutions across Scotland, outlining a flexible framework for planning and providing ongoing support for staff and student officers to get the most out of their development work. The awards are a chance to celebrate the great work of the sector and to reward those demonstrating an innovative and effective approach to promoting good mental health.”
Sheila Duffy, Chief Executive of health charity ASH Scotland, said: “If you’re already a smoker, becoming a student could be the ideal time to give up. It’s a fresh start and a chance to begin your new life in a positive, healthy way. Enjoying the exciting social life of a student can bring with it the risk that occasional smokers will develop a more regular habit that may prove difficult to quit, and that peer influences may encourage others to start using tobacco. So it’s important for universities and colleges to look out for the wellbeing of their students when it comes to smoking.
“Tobacco use does not help at stressful times like taking exams, as many believe. In fact, quitting smoking can actually help to relieve stress and lead to an improvement in the symptoms of anxiety, depression and other mental health problems – so a healthy body really does mean a healthy mind.”
For more information contact Laura Caven at NUS Scotland on 07595 057 391 or Ben Philip at Scottish Student Sport on 0131 650 9653