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Tea and Empathy society

MB ChB student William Martin has set up a new society at WMS called 'Tea and Empathy', with the aim of improving medical students' mental wellbeing. We caught up with him to find out more about it.

Why did you decide to set up the Tea and Empathy society?

Mental wellbeing is a key part of any healthy lifestyle. However, I often feel that it's overlooked by individuals, institutions and society as a whole. During my first degree I experienced first hand how my own individual failings significantly impacted my health and wellbeing. So before joining Warwick I was determined not to make the same mistakes.

Coming to Warwick was a breath of fresh air and I was greatly encouraged by the fact that student welfare is taken seriously by the medical school. However, I have often found it disheartening to see that sincere attempts by the medical school to promote and improve welfare have sometimes been looked down upon by students and simply seen as "another hoop to jump through" or a "sign in" they had to attend to keep up attendance.

So when I heard about the Tea and Empathy society at Brighton and Sussex Medical School at a student psychiatry conference, I instantly saw the potential of such a society at Warwick to solve these problems!

What happens at the sessions and what do you want them to achieve?

The main goal of the society is simple: to improve the welfare of medical students by creating an informal space for them to relax, chat and talk to other students about things that may be bothering them. We create this space by offering free tea, coffee and cake and a room to sit and talk in.

The sessions are kept deliberately informal as we believe that by simply creating the right space and atmosphere students will engage and leave feeling better without actively thinking about the process. In this respect, the society should also appeal to students who find a more formal approach to welfare a bit patronising.

How have participants reacted to the sessions so far?

We ran our first session with first year students before Easter and it was great success. I was stunned by how well everyone engaged in it. We received a lot of positive feedback and I did hear people open up about the issues that where affecting them, proving that the consequent could work within the medical school.

Have you got any plans to expand the scheme?

Thanks to the success of the first session I have great faith in the concept and want to offer the same service to 2nd-4th years by recruiting more people to run the sessions on behalf of the main committee. I am also aiming to run one or two sessions in the final semester as "exam-stress busters".

How can students get involved?

Come to the sessions, drink tea and eat cake! We will post on the GEP Facebook page whenever we have a new session. We also have a Facebook group which all Warwick medical students can join.

We will also start recruiting passionate students to help run future session. Again all the relevant information this will be posted on the GEP Facebook page and our Facebook group.