Nowadays, people are more aware about mental health than even a decade ago. There’s no doubt that it is an important social issue.
Recently, Radar spoke to Kieran Matthews who is the elected President of Sport and Physical Activity at RGU about his newly developed campaign: #FullTimeOnInitiations.
Find out what he had to say in this exclusive interview.
Radar Magazine: So what’s your campaign about?
Kieran: Basically, it’s to make clubs more aware that initiations are wrong. We managed to get all the sports clubs to share photos of themselves with the reasons why they’re getting involved in the campaign.
Now, for those of you who don’t know, initiations are a rite of passages that people have to attend in order to enter a group or society.
In Great Britain they are particularly common among sports clubs. Often, they involve eating or drinking food which is comestible or engaging in dangerous activities.
In recent years it has become an issue especially due to it impacting the mental and physical health of many students.
After a series of fatal cases Universities and student bodies have started applying zero tolerance policies towards initiations.
Yet, these represent a tradition many are finding hard to let go.
In this context, campaigns like #FullTimeOnInitiations are very important.
Kieran Matthews said he is aware “it’s not going to be an easy fix or a quick fix but it’s a start.”
Radar: What inspired you to do this campaign?
Kieran: I’ve seen stories such as the Newcastle story where someone died from it. We also had a story at presidents’ training day of something that happened at another university. It hit home for all our presidents. It was one of our clubs that came up with the idea of the campaign. It is made to stop this from happening again. We’re not trying to stop people having a good time but it’s just about being careful. Awareness and how we do it are important.
Radar: Definitely! And are there any future mental health campaigns you would consider doing during your time as Sports President?
Kieran: We’ve also got gender-based ones that we’re thinking on doing next semester and then supporting Emmanuel (President of Education and Welfare) and Ursula (President of Communication and Democracy) on whatever mental health campaigns they have. Because mental health is something you do all year round. I think it would be quite good to get people aware of it.
Radar: That’s for sure. And... why do you believe mental health is important at university?
Kieran: It’s important for people to realise they have a voice and that they can speak up if there’s a problem. I think we’re all sometimes guilty of not speaking up if we’re not feeling as good and we put on a fake smile. Especially in the sport environment, it’s something that sport athletes tend to hide because they don’t want to show it. We are trying to make people realise that they can speak up and won’t be judged but helped. That’s something we will have to change over the next couple of years.
Radar: I agree with you 100%. Mental health must be a huge factor in terms of your physical health as well.
Kieran: It’s massive but we’re not saying it’s just sports. Obviously, it’s across university. I think until I got this role, I didn’t realise how big of an issue it was. But it hits home a bit when you come into the role.
Being Sports President is something Kieran really seems to care about.
With the #FullTimeOnInitiations campaign he hopes he will at least raise awareness and make people think before acting.
He and his team are aware the campaign “may not be perfect but it’s a good start and we’re looking forward to keep building on it.”
And it appears this campaign is only the start of a brilliant year for Kieran as he has many other ideas.
Better keep an eye out for them!