Students discuss their experiences with antidepressants and deduce the stigma surrounding dependency and reliance 

By Kelly Gowe

The prevalence of antidepressant prescription is astounding with 70 million prescriptions written last year for the 7 million adults who used them.  

It is time to take a more nuanced approach: Antidepressants can be lifesaving for some people while having no effect on others.  

But who are we to say that someone is wrong if they see it as a last resort or something to make them feel better? The stigma must be lifted. 

I interviewed two students about their university experiences with SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) to see how the medication affected their lives. 

Valuable: Abubakr Razak (left) and Heebah Hussain found antidepressants helped them

Abubakr Razak, 19, began taking SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) while studying law.  

He had struggled with anxiety and depression throughout college, which led him to being prescribed an SSRI called Sertraline. 

“I often had anxiety in social situations,” he said. “But very traumatic situations as a child eventually built up to this. My SSRIs were paired with talking therapy, which helped massively.” 

He said they made him feel “level” throughout university and found dealing with difficulties a lot easier. 

Heebah Hussain, 18, said: “I’d encourage anyone in a dark place to think ‘If I were really physically unwell, would I take medicine to help me feel better?’” 

Unfortunately, many people are still reluctant to take medication for their mental health because society has often portrayed it as a sign of failure.  

In fact, making such a decision for yourself is a sign of strength. There is nothing to be ashamed of if you require some additional assistance. 

So, even if you are aware of the risks, your only option is to take it or leave it; our mental health system lacks ambition. 

If you are a student who is struggling, I strongly advise you to reach out to others, even if it is just one person.  

If you know a loved one who is struggling, you can  find out more about how to help here

You can contact the Mind helpline by calling 0300 123 3393.  

Active Oadby and Wigston has post-Covid vision to improve community wellbeing with physical activities 

By Lara Alsaid

The Covid-19 pandemic has shone a light on how important social life and exercise are for people´s physical and mental health, according to an activities group in Leicester. 

Active Oadby and Wigston is an organisation that aims to deliver programmes to get residents within the borough to improve their health and wellbeing. 

Ross Levy, Community Health and Improvement Officer for Active Oadby and Wigston, said: “A group walk for an hour around the park with the sun shining, reduces isolation and improves mental and physical wellbeing. It is fantastic to have that opportunity.” 

Group walks are one of their programmes

Seven district councils in Leicester have similar teams to Active Oadby and Wigston and share the same inspiration to increase activity for their residents.  

The organisation has a close partnership with the NHS (National Health Service) and operates a lot on the module of social prescribing, which is basically a prescription by medical practitioners to someone to do an activity. 

Mr Levy continued: “It is brilliant for people in our programme that have been referred because of low mood or bereavement etc.”  

The group walk is a growing concept within the organisation that has a powerful sense of community and commitment.  

Mr Levy added: “It is lovely how something as accessible as walking can have such a significant difference to people’s lives who participate.” 

After the Covid isolation, people have been excited to get back out and enjoy gentle exercise and have a chat with people from different walks of life. 

Mr Levy believes people have learned from Covid isolation and social exclusion that it is important to raise awareness of this organisation and for people to know their opportunities and what is available to them in their communities. 

Within the programme, participants have a close community with WhatsApp group chats where they inspire and cheer each other on.  

Most of Active Oadby and Wigston’s programmes are free of charge or incredibly low cost.  

Most activities have an age limit of 18 but they do more targeted activities for families, for example during February half term 2022 they organised family activity days in some of the social housing properties within the borough. 

There are a lot of opportunities to volunteer for students as well. The organisation is always looking for volunteers and urged students across De Montfort University (DMU) to contact Active Oadby and Wigston. 

For more information visit its website 

Web developer struggles in COVID-19 pandemic

By Kira Gibson

A web developer has learnt the struggles of being on mandatory lockdown from the government.

Scott Mokler (32) worked as a web developer for Profile Digital Agency in Huntingdon until they announced a temporary closure via their social media channels on March 23rd and let him go the same day via email due to a lack of income from clients.

The company ran off a number of clients bringing in an income and paying their retainers. However, due to the Coronavirus, clients have pulled out and aren’t paying the deposits so unfortunately the company had to make hard cuts as they couldn’t afford to pay a lot of the staff.

Scott is also a parent to five children and is having to deal with the ramifications of having the majority of his children under one roof all of the time.


Scott Mokler (Photo credit Kirstie Mokler)

He said: “The kids are struggling without the routine of not going to school.”

He added that because of the financial problems coming with being laid off, and companies closing due to this country lockdown, he is “trying to keep busy at home but limited to what we can do really.”

Unfortunately, the restriction on what you can do and where you can go has also had a negative impact on Scott’s mental health which has significantly changed his life.

There are pathways to get help for the mental health side of things but they are hard to access at this particular moment.

Despite all of the troubles that Scott faces being at home and dealing with this crisis, he still manages to smile and make his kids feel less stressed and upset whilst everything is going on.

For any help with your mental health in Cambridgeshire the crisis line is 111 and option 2. In Leicestershire, the crisis line number is 0116 305 0004. This line is open office hours and for an out of hours crisis please call 0116 255 1606. The Samaritans are open 24/7 in all areas on 116 123.


Depression & drugs: The dark side of rap

By Charlie Bourne

Drugs and Addiction are issues that have taken hold of modern rap. Charlie Bourne spoke to Joanna Corsie to understand how the two can be a danger to young musicians.

lil peep pic

Lil Peep 

Often inciting a brash lifestyle of partying and carelessness, the modern rapper’s relaxed approach to drugs has been increasing prominently over recent years, but after the tragedy of Lil Peep, has the Rap game started to realise ‘lean culture’ has gone too far?

In a nutshell, lean culture is a US trend where rappers often gloat on their songs about taking an obscene amount of Xanax, Molly (MDMA) or lean (Purple Drank) – a drink consisting of soda, sweets and codeine – too get ridiculously high.

At first this was not seen as a dangerous problem. No one batted an eyelid, until the death of Lil Peep.

On 15th November 2017, the American rapper was en route to perform at a show in Tucson, Arizona. Unfortunately, while on the tour bus an accidental overdose of Xanax and fentanyl (an opioid used as pain medication) took his life.

The shocking news was quick to transcend around the world, as a video recorded by a friend on the tour bus captured Peep, appearing to be asleep just hours before his death. The reality was Peep’s dead body was just broadcasted to the world.

Lil Peep, who was just 21 when he passed, definitely optimised the lean culture trend, his carelessness towards life itself constantly shocked those concerned.

His attitude towards tattoos portrayed this, in an interview with GQ, Peep explains how one night he woke up with “Get Cake Die Young” branded across his forehead before going on to say “I had no idea I’d even got it, I was so f***ed up.”

The rapper made no attempt to hide his feelings when recording music, known for being part of a post-emo revival style of hip-hop he often rapped about his depression and drug addiction on his tracks such as “Better off (Dying).”

Although the rapper was aware of his addiction and depression, nothing was done to prevent his death.

To find out more on these two important problems regarding mental health lead to the death of Peep, Joanna Corsie, a counsellor at the Sir John Moore Foundation in Swadlincote, who provides therapy to aid clients with mental health problems, helped to explain.

Joanna Corsie interview

Joanna Corsie

While discussing drug addiction in young adults, Joanna explained how peer groups can often lead individuals to get hooked on drugs, saying: “The impression that I get is that, it can be a problem within a peer group, if one friend took it and recommended it to others, they may also try it and then become addicted.

“I’ve had other clients that would take drugs and that was a part of their friendship lifestyle if you like, to such a point where it became a problem for one of them. Where it got to the point where they began to revaluate their lives – surely there is more to life than this?

“Being a part of a peer group that starts something and makes it feel acceptable can lead somebody to have a real problem.”

Was this the problem with Lil Peep? From the viral video recorded on the tour bus, we know drugs were socially accepted within his clique.

To them, and like many other rappers popular today, Xanax was no longer a dangerous drug but a pastime.

When putting a link to connect addiction to depression, there isn’t a definitive answer.

Does Joanna feel there is a direct link to drug addiction and depression, she said: “That’s a difficult one for me to answer, I suppose for some people, the depression and what is behind the depression may trigger addiction to alcohol or drugs.

“Workaholics for example, they work to distract themselves from uncomfortable feelings that they’re having when at home. Any addict will tell you for a long time that they didn’t care, whatever the consequences even if they were detrimental to their health.

“Any addiction is a distraction from what they are feeling.”

The lyrics from Yung Bans track ‘Lonely’ spring to mind, repeating the phrase “I got all kinda drugs for when I get lonely” to form a catchy hook, Yung Bans reflects that addiction often is a distraction to mask whatever a person may be feeling.

From his toxicology report, Peep had nearly ten different drugs in his system when he died, ranging from Xanax to cannabis.

With both a range of medicinal and recreational drugs, Peep may have been using a variety of drugs to self-medicate and mask his problems in his personal life.

A situation that can create a false sense of protection from the negative issues that troubled him.

Through her therapy, Joanna deals with clients that face similar issues. She believes being open to discussion by addressing past issues, is a positive step forward for anyone seeking to get better.

“What I personally believe is that you have to sometimes look at what is behind the problem. It’s all well and good addressing how you deal with it now but if there is still stuff that is unresolved from back in the past then it’s good to be able to bring that out into the open, to unpick it and find some resolve or peace with that problem, because then I believe the outcome, which obviously we hope is positive, will be more stable.” She added.

Joanna had a message to anyone that may be suffering in silence.

She said: “Try to be real and honest, because depression usually comes about through holding on to thoughts and feelings and repressing them. From as young as possible, try to be as real as possible with how you feel and what your thoughts are.

In terms of lean culture, the turn of 2018 saw many rappers that previously took Xanax and lean to now reject the trend entirely.

Rappers Lil Pump, with the hit single ‘Gucci Gang’ that features lyrics such as “Me and my grandma take meds,” along with Smokepurpp, took to social media to announce on New Years Day that they were both quitting Xanax as sort of New Years’ resolution.

Furthermore, Famous Dex announced back in November that he was “done with lean” after being rushed to hospital.

Moreover, a movement on social media with the hashtag #KickDaCupChallenge is aiming to inspire others to stop drinking lean.

With the recent times suggesting their may be an internal uprising within the Rap game against hard drugs, the genre may be beginning to clean up it’s act before anyone else suffers the same fate as Lil Peep.

For more information regarding mental health visit the website or contact to get in touch with Joanna.

Thoughts of some other rappers:

Vic Mensa said in a lengthy interview with Billboard: “To be honest on one hand I almost don’t even feel that I have the right to chastise anybody because I’ve f***ing done it. I’ve rapped about Xanax. I regret it. I don’t rap about it anymore, but I have some lines about taking Xanax.

vic mensa photo

Vic Mensa

“I just think that we’re in such a dangerous place now because it’s been normalised and the drug abuse has been reduced to a marketing tactic.

“it’s horribly irresponsible because you got kids that idolize these people and will do anything they do. They’re being misled but their f***ing heroes and getting addicted to Xans or Percocets and dying from them. So it’s pretty f***ed.” (per”

One of the biggest rappers of today’s generation, 21 Savage, posted hs thoughts on the issue of drugs in rap to his twitter page.

“They say we make drug user music like making drug selling music is better, what’s the difference? What about the fact that rap is the number one genre of music right now, none of y’all acknowledge that?

He Added: “Artists been snorting cocaine and smoking crack since the 70s and 80s did y’all forget that?

“Our music is a reflection of what is going on in our community and all we doing is using our talent to escape that community.”




By Joel Wood

Mental Health and Wellbeing Day kicked-off at DMU with exams poking their head just


DMU students trying out the variety of stalls at the mental health and wellbeing day.

around the corner.

A wide range of events, lectures and activities are being held to promote issues and stigmas around mental health.
The array of events are taking place in the atrium of the Hugh Aston building from 11am-2pm today.

Andy Brown, Manager of the Mental Health Inclusion Team, said: “ We always see an increase of students coming to us during deadlines and exam time as the pressure is starting to grow.”

Eighteen different areas of mental health are being covered during the events with Vice-Chancellor of DMU, Dominic Shellard, attending and speaking on the issue.

Mr Brown, continued: “We want to move away from naming people with mental health problems and start striving to work on the resolution instead.”

Studies from 2015 show that there has been a large increase in the number of people coming forward about mental health issues with the generation of kids who have been put through exams for a majority of their life being a big contributor of this.

Gareth Glover, a member of DMU’s Library Disability Team, said: “It’s true that we do see spikes around the exam period.

“We also have a lot of students coming to us for help in periods where holidays are coming up wanting advice on how to utilise their time efficiently.”

For more information on the day and further help around mental health issues please visit