Mental Health can be a struggle for people under normal circumstances. Given the COVID pandemic, many people have found it even more challenging. However, having outlets can be helpful. For Ulster English student Beth Cairns, the English and Poetry society on the Coleraine campus has been a useful out let.
“Since I was thirteen, I’ve been struggling with my mental health, general anxiety and depression usually and that sort of thing. Over lockdown and through COVID, I’ve had to look at myself a lot and a lot of mental health issues resurfaced during that time that kind of shut down was I was like sixteen so that was a big thing and then this year it’s been hard coming up here to Uni for the first time. It’s hard to cope,” said Cairns.
This year marked Beth’s first year attending university in person as the pandemic prevented any in-person classes for a year. However, joining the English and Poetry society has been an outlet for her. “It started me writing poetry, which like I’ve never done in my life. I wrote one haiku in P7 when I was like 10 and that was like the only experience, I ever had of writing poetry and then in English and Poetry, I just started again after hearing other peoples and it’s been a good way to get things out of my head and help process them and make them seem more valid. So, it’s been a help definitely,” said Cairns.
“Meeting people who have gone through it as much as me. You know like people who’ve, and this is gonna sound mean, but who’ve gone through worse than me because it kind of helps put things into perspective. I’m a listener. I’m like a therapy friend, I like to help people and helping people helps me in a way, helps me work through my own stuff.”
Cairns wants to encourage others who may be struggling to try English and Poetry and make sure that they reach out to others around them.
“English and Poetry can be intimidating for some people with the way that you get up there and a lot of people feel pressure to read. You don’t have to if you don’t feel like it. Even just being there and hearing people read and hearing what people are going through can help. Being there is more than just reading poems and writing, it’s about having a community and having a support system there because I feel like everyone in that society, I can talk to about what I’m going through and they’ll help me.”