Conscious Edinburgh is a student run mental health charity founded in the wake of a tragic student suicide. The charity’s primary aims are raising awareness of student mental health through hosting panel discussions, and the provision on online information. Conscious also aims to create a support infrastructure for students suffering with their mental health in the form of grief support groups, mental health first aid courses and subsidising therapy. If you would like to get involved with Conscious Edinburgh or learn more about they do the best way to do it would be to check out their website at https://www.consciousedinburgh.com
“Hi, I’m Isa. I’m a fourth year psychology student at the University of Edinburgh. I am also a committee member of Conscious, a mental health charity that has recently partnered up with JNF.
During my first year of uni back in 2020, a few weeks after we all got sent home due to the pandemic, I lost my older brother Nacho to suicide. It came as a great shock, as those of us in his inner circle had no idea he was struggling with his mental health. I was hit with waves of heavy and confusing emotions.
I had been struggling with my mental health in the months leading to the pandemic. I was dealing with seasonal depression and adjusting to being away from home for the first time. I was able to get help: I told my parents and close friends and saw a therapist regularly.
I had to face the fact that my brother was in so much pain that he decided to take his own life, knowing this left me feeling, amongst other things, incredibly guilty. I felt guilty about being the surviving child, guilty that I was able to ask for help and he wasn’t
Grieving at such a young age, and with the trauma and tragedy that comes with it, forces you to grow up suddenly and that can feel really isolating. This is especially the case at university, which can feel lonely for a lot of people.
This feeling of isolation was alleviated one afternoon when I was scrolling through social media and I came across a post by Conscious. It was this that led me to find the Grief Support Group. Being able to find other people of my age that knew what it was like to lose someone close to you was like coming up for air when drowning.
The grief group reached out a hand when I thought I was all alone. Sure, I had friends who tried their best to sympathise and I’m truly grateful for their effort. But they couldn’t understand exactly what it was like to lose a life way before you expected it to. My brother was 28, I never ever thought I would lose him when I was eighteen. It made no sense, it still doesn’t. There wasn’t and still isn’t much I can do to rationalise his death, but talking about it helps a great deal.
Every other week, for an hour during grief group, I feel seen. I feel accompanied. I feel understood. I can talk about my brother freely, without worrying that I’m bringing a damper on the conversation or bringing the mood down. Session after session we’re all there for each other. We share a connection that, although came about for unfortunate reasons, bonds us and allows us to process the unimaginable. Allows us to share the weight of arguably the heaviest thing we’re dealing with.
As I navigate processing the loss of my brother and the knock-on effects that his passing has had in my family, I continue to turn to my support system at uni. Going to the support group greatly helped my own mental health. During the days where juggling normal uni life while processing a loss felt impossible, and especially during those days where I simply didn’t want to face a world that my brother wasn’t a part of.
It led me to want to apply to be on the Conscious committee and help others who are going through a difficult period just like the grief group did for me. I was grateful to be appointed as the Peer Support Group Coordinator, passionate to facilitate the creation of more spaces where people can come together, share their experiences, and help one another through whatever they may be going through.”