STUDENTS discussed the issues surrounding mental health in a bid to reflect and raise awareness of Mental Health Awareness Week.

Activate Learning students from Bracknell, Wokingham and Reading raised concerns about issues which affect mental health on May 15 and 17.

The week coincided with Mental Health Awareness Week and the Love our Colleges week of action.

Debates were held at Bracknell and Wokingham College and Reading College and the idea was to bring together students, staff and public body representatives, such as Thames Valley Police and the Samaritans.

Topics of debate were discussed, such as social media exposure, exam stress, toxic masculinity and young people's mental health issues from black and minority ethnic (BAME) OR LGBTQ+ communities.

Paul Newman, activate learning's executive director for faculties, said: "Love our Colleges is a great opportunity for us to shout from the rooftops about the amazing work that colleges do and the lives that we transform.

"Each year, this becomes more and more challenging due to financial constraints of the sector, and yet we continue to rise to the challenge."

Further topics were discussed on the two days, such as how local businesses could provide corporate social responsibility support, lobbying MPs, developing peer support systems in addition to sharing concerns with a friend or speaking to a GP.

The Thames Valley Police, NHS, Healthwatch Reading and counselling services No.5 and Youthline were also on hand to give students advice on how to seek support for their mental health.

Activate Learning stress the importance of helping students with mental health issues while they are in school due to resources being 'squeezed' in further education.

Students who experience exam-related stress were presented with alternative options than further education, such as apprenticeships which involves more practical learning than taking examinations.