Love Island star Dr Alex George urges Leicester students to seek early mental health support

Dr Alex George (middle) with SU President, Rhiannon Jenkins (left) and Head of Student Support Services, Sarah Cavendish (right)

Love Island star and Youth Mental Health Ambassador, Dr Alex George, has urged students at the University of Leicester to be open about their mental health and initiate early conversations if they are struggling. 

Dr Alex visited the University to deliver a special presentation on mental health support to students. It comes less than two years after he lost his own brother to suicide in July 2020. 

Addressing students, he said: “I don’t want anyone else to go through what we go through as a family every day.” Dr Alex then talked about the importance of getting help early on. 

“When I was at university, I had no real understanding or idea about where you get support. I think there was a huge barrier to accessing support because of stigma, because of fear about being judged or held back… and I think that’s changed a lot now but the more you talk about something and the more you raise awareness of something, the less of an issue it is. I think people think we talk about mental health a lot now but you can’t do enough of it.”

“I look back at my University days and I wish that they’d done talks on wellbeing… that they’d talked to me about how to look after myself… because I didn’t really find out until the end of med school when I’d got myself into a difficult situation. Sleep does matter, what you eat is important, getting some natural light, you need to talk to people and you need to think about how you maintain your own passions in life. Those are the fundamentals to being a well-rounded and generally well person in terms of your mind and your body.”

Dr Alex George takes questions about mental health support from students

Alex was appointed UK Youth Mental Health Ambassador by the Prime Minister last year and uses both his clinical expertise as a qualified doctor and his personal experience to champion mental health support for young people. He also sits on the Mental Health in Education Action Group, which is chaired by the Children’s Minister and Universities Minister, to look at how to support young people with their wellbeing in school and university environments.

Commenting on his collaboration with the University of Leicester, Dr Alex said: 

“Ensuring that young people can talk openly about mental health and have early access to mental health support is vital. I’m delighted to be working with the University of Leicester to encourage positive mental health habits. It’s been great to hear about the support that’s available at the university and to get an insight from students about how important they feel mental health and wellbeing is to university life.”

Sarah Cavendish, Head of Student Wellbeing and Support Services at the University of Leicester said: 

“We were thrilled to welcome Dr Alex George’s to the University for this important event. Mental health impacts our whole University community and we are really focused on early intervention and enabling people to create positive, healthy habits that foster good mental health and wellbeing.”

The University of Leicester has a dedicated Mental Health Hub, which promotes healthy habits for positive mental health. This includes the MyWellbeing app, which empowers students to make different kinds of healthy changes, including physical, mental, social and financial. The University has also established a working group to provide an ongoing review into mental health support services. This ensures that students have access to help whenever and wherever they need it.

As part of its centenary year, the University is also hosting a series of talks and exhibitions to debate key topics and challenges in 2022. The programme has been designed to engage and inspire as many members of the local community as possible.