The last recorded University of Bristol’s annual Well Being Report revealed that 45% of its students were assessed to have moderate to severe symptoms associated with depression. The university has since made considerable effort to promote the availability of the support that is provided for students including weekly counselling, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and sports initiatives. The options provided are undeniably introspective - which is of course required in some points of people’s progressions and recoveries.
This is where charities like Off the Record come in. They cover issues spanning from anxiety, depression, OCD, struggles with sexuality and gender identity and cultural identity. Unlike traditional approaches to these issues, Off the Record takes the approach of discussing these issues, they not only offer private meetings but also more communal and tactile workshops.
The charity was established in late 1965, making it one of the longest running mental health charities for young people. They receive funding from various big-name charities like Comic Relief and Children in Need but also accept donations from anyone. Various University of Bristol societies such as Fusion and Rugby have previously run events in aid of Off the Record.
The sessions run by Off the Record themselves are truly novel and unique. All of their sessions are designed specifically for young people, from the ages 11 through to 25, of a variety of different age groups. ‘Nature Works’ (https://www.otrbristol.org.uk/what-we-do/nature-works/) for example is the ‘horticulture-based wellbeing project’ which aims to educate young people about their natural environment and the benefits of connecting to it.
And at the other end of the spectrum, there is ‘Off the Record Sounds’ (https://www.otrbristol.org.uk/what-we-do/otr-sounds/) which is a six week program where participants curate playlists and discuss the stories behind them.
Off the Record receives consistently positive reviews from participants with their one-on-one work as well as group work, and even their project in local schools. So, if you’re keen to get involved with Off the Record, you can do so in a number of ways…
1. If you’re looking for support.
Off the Record are currently unable to run their traditional drop in group ‘Hub’ sessions which is how you can usually get support. However, they are running these on Zoom instead which you can learn more about on their website. (https://www.otrbristol.org.uk/what-we-do/hubs/).
2. If you want to donate.
If you’re keen to pay what you can to support Off the Record and their fantastic work, you can do so via this link (https://www.otrbristol.org.uk/support-us/donate/). They accept both one off and recurring donations. Or alternatively, you can donate via text:
‘Just send “OTRBRISTOL 5” to 70085 to donate £5 to us (you can choose donations between £1 and £20 by changing the ‘5’ accordingly)’.
3. If you want to do a placement.
Off the Record regularly open the ‘placement’ section of their website’ which allows University students to apply to take a work placement as one of their Peer Representatives. You can keep an eye on this via this link (https://careers.otrbristol.org.uk/vacancies/) or by signing up to their mailing list.