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An inspiring placement

Taking part in sports and physical activity has a positive impact for our mental and physical health. During a placement, BSc Psychology student Leyla Owen saw for herself the wellbeing benefits that being active can have. This inspired her to try and make a difference for her fellow students.

Like all undergraduate psychology students, Leyla was given the chance to undertake a short-term placement during the second year of her degree.

With placement opportunities in a variety of clinical, professional and voluntary organisations, Leyla chose to work with Sport in Mind. They are a local charity that supports people experiencing mental health problems through sport and physical activity.

Over several weeks, Leyla worked closely with people with a wide range of mental health issues and delivered a variety of physical activity projects.

Following her placement, Leyla looked at ways she could apply what she had learned to help boost wellbeing on campus. She teamed up with MSc Psychology Conversion student Mark Jeavons and other passionate students from the School to launch the Sport in Mind Student Society.

Helping her fellow students

University of Reading students are already able to access counselling and mental health support during their studies. The aim of the Society is to provide students with additional support – whether they’re facing mental health challenges or just looking to reduce stress.

Working with the University's SportsPark, the Society runs six free sessions a week covering yoga, tennis, badminton and other low-impact sports. Each session aims to be relaxing, fun and non-competitive, and is led by student volunteers and trained coaches. Students can sign themselves up for sessions or can be referred by the University's GP service.

The Society’s activities have proven to be hugely popular since its launch in early 2019. Both student volunteers and those joining the sessions have seen huge benefits to taking part. One student participant said:

"Before I started playing tennis with Sport in Mind, I was a total beginner. I was also very inactive because of my anxiety disorder. But now I have more confidence and a wonderful group of friends. I am also eating better and have begun to lose a lot of weight.

“The coaches are very considerate of my mental health needs and are supportive. Tennis has helped me cope as I came off my antidepressants and I've now developed a sustainable lifestyle."

Positive changes

Leyla has also seen positive changes in herself that have come from leading the Society. It has helped her realise she wants to focus on a career in mental health after university and provided her with unique insights into her studies:

"After working with Sport in Mind and setting up the Society, I’ve realised that your physical health is completely on par with your mental health. I’ve been able to apply this theory to other assignments and learning of my modules."

Learn more about the BSc Psychology course

Developing a clinical intervention and making a difference

On her year-long placement, Shannon Smith-Whelan had the chance to develop her own mental health intervention to help children cope with the transition from one school to another.

Giving people a voice in the legal system

Our School collaborated with the School of Law to provide students with an insight into Registered Intermediaries, who help vulnerable people at every stage of the criminal process.

Gaining research skills and hands-on clinical experience

Simon Brett is a psychological wellbeing practitioner (PWP) with the Anxiety and Depression in Young People (AnDY) Research Unit at Reading. He's been part of our School from undergraduate level onwards.

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