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Headshot of A. Shipton sitting by a coffee table with the Royal Foundation logo on the wall behind them.

Empowering University Students: Navigating mental health research, royal encounters and vision to make global impact

Words by Amelia Shipton

Having recently graduated from the Arts University Bournemouth with a first-class degree in Acting, initially, I hadn't considered returning to study for a Master's, especially in research. As an experienced actor and facilitator, I wanted to use my skill set to make a difference in this world.

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Having been bereaved by suicide and seen the effects that mental health can have on young people, I knew I wanted to do something that prevented others from going through something similar. I wanted to ensure that individuals felt supported and that no other community experienced such a significant loss. Hence, I turned to training as a crisis counsellor for a crisis line. Since then, I've undergone rigorous training and many hours on shifts, engaging in over 500 conversations.

Prior to this, I'd worked as a facilitator in various diverse settings, ranging from individuals with learning differences to young people with long-term health conditions. My practice focuses on creative arts and wellbeing with the use of creative methods and techniques to enhance participants' mental health.

During the final year of my undergraduate course, we were given the opportunity to create and negotiate a project as part of an assessed unit. Here, I developed, designed and delivered a series of workshops. This program was aimed specifically at university students with the hope it'd enhance their wellbeing through self-compassion and creative art techniques. These were such a success that I then founded Talk More Together, a brand-new company that I aspire to turn into a wellbeing service for university students in the future. It was in this unit that the words Master of Research floated around. My lecturer suggested that I look into the MRes Arts course and take these ideas further.

Having always had a passion for mental health and continuously thinking of innovative ways to enhance the recovery processes and prevention strategies for young people, the MRes felt like the perfect next step of action to contribute to building a safer and healthier society.

Last month on World Mental Health Day, I was lucky enough to be invited to attend an inspiring event in Birmingham called Exploring Our Emotional Words, held by The Royal Foundation and The Mix charity. The day consisted of multiple interactive workshops, keynote speeches, discussions, panels and presentations. We were joined by high-profile guests, top mental health professionals and experts such as Dr Alex George and even the Prince and Princess of Wales.

They were all incredibly friendly and enthusiastic to hear from participants, along with understanding our drives and desires to provide and improve mental health services and support for young people. It was an absolute honour to attend and engage in vital conversations.

Networking at such an event gave me confidence in my research project, which will centre on mental health facilitation and creative arts interventions to act as preventative tools in crisis for university students.

Together, let’s support the next generation of individuals in seeing the value in themselves and ensure that the world is a safer and kinder place to live in.

If you’d like to follow my journey within my research or get involved, please find me on LinkedIn and on Instagram.

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