Oasis blog: Belonging – Practices of care and communality
The Wellbeing exhibition at the Harald Herlin Learning Centre was a powerful opportunity to explore the theme of belonging and its relationship with wellbeing and mental health. The exhibition, which ran from 15.11.22-05.02.23, delved into the praxis of belonging, examining how care and wellbeing are not fixed states, but conditions that require constant observation, nurturing, and response to our internal, external, and shared environments.
Belonging is a fundamental human need, and it can be cultivated through practices of care and community. Practices of care involve taking responsibility for oneself and others, and can include self-care, care for loved ones, and care for the wider community. This can take many forms, such as making sure to eat well, exercise regularly, and get enough sleep, as well as reaching out to loved ones for support and being there for them in their times of need. Additionally, practices of care can include volunteering in one's community, supporting local organizations, and being an active and engaged citizen.
Community, on the other hand, refers to the connections and relationships we have with others. This can include friendships, family, romantic relationships, and even the connections we have with our co-workers or fellow members of a club or organization. Building and strengthening these connections is essential to belonging, as it is through our relationships with others that we find meaning and purpose in life.
The exhibition actions were created by a rotation of three different student collectives who each explored various factors that impact our ability to maintain good mental health, whether it is across changes in our environment, social structures, and performance, or the impact of intersectionality, gender, identity, neurodivergence, sensory-spatial accessibility needs, anxiety, and stress on our wellbeing and sense of belonging. These collective exhibition actions aimed to provide a wider reflection on this subject matter and promote a sense of community and support within the Learning Centre.
To cultivate a sense of belonging, it is important to actively engage in both practices of care and community-building. From setting aside time to connect with loved ones and volunteering in one's community to participating in local organizations and events, it is important to remember that belonging is not something that can be achieved overnight. Rather it is an ongoing process that requires time, effort, and commitment.
The exhibition actions and student collective also examined the role of support networks and peer support in building resilience and coping with feelings of isolation and overwhelm. The objective of co-creating these spaces was to initiate practices in how belonging is a fundamental human need that can be cultivated through practices of care and community, such as self-care, care for loved ones, and care for the wider community, as well as building and strengthening connections with others. By examining the complex relationship between wellbeing, belonging, and mental health, the exhibition aimed to provide a deeper understanding of these crucial topics and promote a sense of community and support within the Learning Centre.
The exhibition was a great opportunity to learn more about the importance of belonging and how practices of care and community can contribute to our wellbeing. It was encouraging to see that the exhibition focused on the role of support networks and peer support, as these can be crucial in helping us cope with difficult times and feelings of isolation. Attending the event was truly worthwhile and thought-provoking. I believe that everyone who joined us gained new insights and perspectives on this crucial topic.
The Starting Point of Wellbeing offers students easy access to counselling and advice on matters of well-being and study ability. The services available to you include drop-in (no reservation) advising/counselling sessions, peer support groups, and online materials. You can also make an appointment to receive individual counselling.