We’ve crowned the second Wellbeing Champion of the Year!

University College London student, Aaman Khan, wins Student Wellbeing Award for advocating and encouraging wellbeing practices within his pharmacy school.

In April, our Marketing and Communications Officer travelled down to Norwich to represent the charity at the BPSA’s 82nd Annual Conference and Awards night, and to present the Student Wellbeing Champion of the Year Award!

Pharmacist Support has been working with the BPSA for many years with the joint aim to support pharmacy students throughout their studies and introduce our charity to students at the start of their pharmacy journeys. As well as attending the BPSA conference to chat with students and highlight our charitable support, this year we were lucky enough to crown our second Wellbeing Champion of the Year!

We created this award to showcase students who have done great work to ensure their peers stay on top of their wellbeing whilst studying at university. We had some fantastic nominations but we had to decide on a winner and that was Aaman Khan, third year pharmacy student at University College London. Aaman won because he dedicated precious evenings during the busiest term of his third year of university and during the holy month of Ramadan to take part in regular classes to qualify as a Mental Health First Aider. Aaman saw this skill as an important force to foster a culture of wellbeing within his university. He decided to use his skills as a Mental Health First Aider to support vulnerable first-year students going through the transition into their MPharm degree. He took on the role of a transition mentor for a large group of students, dedicating multiple hours a week to provide group discussions with his mentees, providing support, advice, and signposting on ways to seek support and they were inspired to consider pursuing training in Mental Health First Aid, as per his recommendation. During Mental Health Week, Aaman helped with fundraising efforts within the student union to raise awareness and support for those suffering from poor mental health. He also suggested to members of the student union ways in which they can help to promote mental health awareness and support, such as more regular campaigns.

We caught up with Aaman and asked him what the award meant to him and his wellbeing journey.

Aaman with his trophy, alongside our Marketing and Communications Officer, Martha.

University College London student, Aaman Khan, wins Student Wellbeing Award for advocating and encouraging wellbeing practices within his pharmacy school.

How did you feel when you found out you’d been nominated for the award and then went on to win?

I wasn’t actually told that I had been nominated until I unexpectedly received an email notifying me that I had won the Pharmacist Support’s Student Wellbeing Champion Award. It is fair to say I was completely unaware but, as they say, I guess ignorance is bliss! Having been told I was the winner, I was naturally intrigued who had nominated me but after asking around several people, I found it was 2 friends of mine who had both observed my contribution to student wellbeing and had decided to write a nomination together to put my name forward for the award. Naturally, I was rather humbled and surprised, but most of all very grateful to have been deemed worthy of a nomination. I’d like to thank everyone that I have worked with over the course of my university studies who has helped with improving the welfare of my colleagues as I would not have been able to win this award without their support!

What made you decide to qualify as a mental health first aider?

Seeing a world where mental health is so frequently overlooked and undervalued never sat right with me. As a 3rd year pharmacy student at the time, I was passionate about the pivotal and unique role of pharmacists within the local communities and felt underwhelmed by the lack of integration of mental health care within the MPharm programme. When I heard about the opportunity to do a Mental Health First Aid course, it felt like it was the most logical and straightforward decision I would ever have to make. I really felt this was an opportunity to develop skills essential to my role as a future pharmacist, and I hope one day this becomes expected of all pharmacists rather than an optional CPD! I’m also delighted that during the BPSA’s 82nd Annual Conference in Norwich in April, BPSA delegates successfully passed a motion whereby pharmacy students, foundation trainees and pharmacists should be Mental Health First Aid trained. This will be a policy that the Association will work on during the next mandate, so I look forward to seeing what progress we can make towards mental health as a profession.

Can you provide a little detail on why you decided to establish such great wellbeing efforts during your time at UCL?

As a Muslim, my religion, Islam, teaches me about the importance of fulfilling one’s rights not only to God, but to the creation, as a fundamental component of faith. The Holy Qur’an says “let not a people’s enmity incite you to act otherwise than with justice. Be always just, that is nearer to righteousness” (Chapter 5, Verse 9). For that reason, my religious upbringing has instilled in me that it’s important to look out for one another and ensure everyone has a support network. This is because at the end of the day, no matter how much society romanticises an individualist mindset where independence is seen as a strength, it has its limitations as this can drive people into isolation and poor mental health. I believe that humility is a positive trait and allows us to rely on one another rather than pure independence, and this is why I’ve always been passionate about pushing for a more compassionate society.

What are your plans after university?

I am pleased to have been offered a foundation training post at Croydon University Hospital where I will primarily be working in the hospital sector, and will also have experience across the Trust in community pharmacy and general practice. I’m looking forward to this as I completed an internship in a west London GP surgery last summer, so the I look forward to seeing what is similar but also how things differ across practices. I am very excited for the hospital side as this is something new to me, I would say I do love taking on new opportunities!

Are you planning on carrying on your wellbeing efforts once you’ve finished university and headed on to your placement?

Absolutely! I never expected to be nominated for an award like this, and my work has always been driven by my personal passion for fostering a culture of good mental health and mutual compassion. This award served as a reminder to me of the importance of continuing the drive for caring for others and trying to form an environment where people feel empowered to speak up when they don’t feel at their best, and that together we can make the world a better place, one kind deed at a time. For that reason, I look forward to continuing to help student and colleague wellbeing throughout my career!

If you could provide 3 top wellbeing tips to pharmacy students nationwide, what would they be?

1. Don’t make studying take over your life! It’s cliché, but it really is important to find a healthy work-life balance. Whatever your interests might be, make sure you take time out regularly from studying so you don’t get overwhelmed.
2. Have a strong support network. Don’t forget the important people around you. Don’t forget about your family and friends who will always be there for you. Be there for them and they will be there for you. Remember to look after your relationships with people that matter so you have support 🙂
3. As someone who loves food – eat well! Paying attention to the basic things really makes all the difference. Make sure you’re eating a good well-balanced diet. They aren’t lying when they say you are what you eat, so ensure you have a fulfilling diet. Remember that the gut-brain axis is a real thing, and that your eating really can affect your mind short and long term!

If you want to pioneer wellbeing in your university, become a student ambassador for Pharmacist Support!

Apply here