At Ecole polytechnique our students' mental health is important, that's why we supported the creation of this event.
This week was the oportunity to raise awareness around mental health issues and its prevention.
Students agreed to share with us their experience and motivations.
Can you present yourselves?
We are a group of six bachelor students: Nina (French/ Brazilian 2nd year Maths & Economics), Gloria (Spanish 2nd year Maths & Physics) Selim (Tunisian 1st year) Mina (Serbian 2nd year Maths & Computer Science), Virgile (French 2nd year Maths & Computer Science) and Kevin (French 2nd year Maths & Computer Science).
What’s your motive behind the organisation of this event? How did you get the idea?
Mental Health Awareness Week was actually launched 2 years ago by BX21 students. They believed that mental Health was something to be talked about, especially in a program as intense as the Bachelor.
Thanks to the improvement in the sanitary situation, and the determination of the students who took over the organization, this year’s week was the most impactful we have had so far in the Bachelor. We divided the events of the week into categories: “care for yourself” events and more learning oriented events, such as conferences etc.
It is easy to get caught up in studying and forgetting about the importance of self-care and being kind to oneself. We hope the events we organized helped students shift their focus and reflect.
Why is mental health important for you and why is it important to hold this kind of event?
Mental health is important to me because I have heard people around me suffer from mental illnesses and mental health issues and I think that we all deserve access to tools to be happy.
What is your angle on dealing with mental health issues and how to address it with other students? What were the main topics proposed?
Of course when one discusses a topic as serious as mental health we must be extremely careful of potential triggers and the validity of the information we share. One of our main goals was to let people know that their struggles are valid and that they deserve help if they want it or if they feel they need it.
On the one hand, the 'care for yourself' events were more lighthearted and we didn’t have too many concerns with triggers, but for the information events, we had all the information checked by both ourselves and by the psychologist. For instance we had posters put up all around the building depicting some mental illnesses such as eating disorders, depression, and anxiety. We also organized a conference on eating disorders, which was thoroughly reviewed to make sure that we did not convey any diet-culture ideas for example.
How did you organise the event, manage and distribute tasks ? Did you find interesting partnerships?
To organize events we normally had daily meetings since two months before the week happened. Each person was in charge of an event and then we could contact other people to help us during the event.
We tried to communicate and advertise the events as much as possible, for example via our Instagram account or the posters we had in the building and through the TV in our building which also advertised the events.
For some of the events the coaches also helped us to organize them (eg dodgeball or a sports afternoon with the coaches). To ensure that as many people as possible came to our events, we gave a card to each person who came to our events and for each event that person came to, we put a stamp on it. The people who had the most stamps at the end of the week would win a plant.
Are you satisfied with the results of this event?
We are very satisfied with the results of the week and we received a lot of positive feedback from students and a general feeling of gratitude for the organization of that week. I think it’s a very rewarding experience to provide such support for our fellow students.
Did the week bring to light other issues that you had not thought of?
I think all of us came into the organization of the week with a certain perspective on mental health and all of our ideas within the organization team were different. In the end we all learned from each other and the week converged to a combination of all of our personal stances. For instance I was very focused on mental illnesses such as depression and eating disorders while Gloria put a certain emphasis on stress linked to schoolwork and grades, in fact she organized a conference with teachers to talk about that matter, allowing students to ask their own questions regarding career and success and their relationship to grades.
What’s your next project regarding mental health awareness? Do you plan on organising something else on this topic?
As many of us are second year students and will be in exchange next year, we do not have any projects so far but we really want mental health awareness week to be a legacy and for it to be an important and valued yearly event in the bachelor.