• Ridge Michiels

Robin hosted the live Q&A about mental well-being

Edited: May 25

Robin Thomas, student in social and economic sciences and PR officer at Unifac

"The idea for the live Q&A was actually developed on this website. I submitted an idea through the contact form. I thought it would be nice to set up a podcast on mental well-being. The people behind this website contacted me and we sparred until we came up with the idea of this live Q&A. The advantage of a live Q&A is that you show your face. You are vulnerable. It’s also a way of showing that you can break through the stigma and the taboo that is associated with mental well-being. This was one of the main reasons why I organised this.

Hosting a livestream is anything but easy. I had never done anything like it before, so I felt some stress, especially in the beginning. But I wanted to share the students’ story and gradually I felt less nervous. We wanted to give open and honest answers to the questions that people submitted instead of creating model answers. What’s more, we also had to keep our eyes on the time… Not easy, but I think that we pulled it off. Although I haven’t been able to watch the livestream again just yet. It really makes me cringe when I see myself and hear myself talk. Ha ha!

During this period, mental well-being is more important than ever. The quarantine has really had an impact on me too. Thanks to my mum, I don’t have to worry about seeking help. When I was twelve years old, she really made a huge effort to get me to a psychologist, which was the best choice that I ever made. Thanks to my therapist, I really became a completely different person, and I feel capable of so much more than I used to. I wanted to share this experience with others, so that they would also stand to benefit from it.

I met DJ Eagl through Unifac and Calamartes. He’s super open about mental health issues and uses his reputation to get rid of the stigma that surrounds it. I think that’s really amazing because most people associate a DJ with partying, fun and other things that are ‘loud’. So discussing a topic that is ‘quieter’… I really admire him a lot because of this.

The fact that I ended up at UAntwerp was already quite something. I didn’t have any friends here from secondary school and I was living in student accommodation. The first week was extremely hectic. I visited the STIP because they had to verify my dyslexia certificate. I met with a psychologist there, who immediately realised that I was overwhelmed by all these new impressions. She asked me to come back the following week. The second chat went a lot better because by then I’d gotten used to things. But I won’t forget the STIP’s assistance. They can really be a help when things aren’t quite going as they should.

During this stressful period, I can only advise my fellow students to put things in perspective. Look at what makes you happy and strive for this, however unconventional this may seem. And take advantages of the resources that are provided to you. This will definitely help you.”

You can watch the livestream again here.

This article was written for fromyourkot.be, an online platform that was created in times of corona at the request of the University of Antwerp.

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