Week Five of an intense Oxford term typically leaves students feeling overwhelmed by academic pressures. Many colleges have responded by making Week Five a dedicated welfare week, organising activities to take care of mental health. While the majority of students have benefited from this, others feel that their colleges haven’t done enough.
‘Week Five Blues’ is a well-used phrase at Oxford, referring to the overall sense of fatigue and insecurity caused by a build-up of deadlines mid-term. Students suffering from depression or imposter syndrome often struggle most at this point too, and the collective mood is low.
This term, Michaelmas 2021, most colleges have kept up the tradition of organising a range of week-five welfare activities. This has included alpaca petting at Lady Margaret Hall and St Hugh’s, visits from welfare dogs at Pembroke, and a free welfare brunch at Wadham. Other colleges, such as Corpus Christi and St Hilda’s, have planned full welfare timetables, with dog-walking, ice cream trips, movie nights and more. Most students say they have benefitted from these activities, or simply find it helpful to have strains on mental health acknowledged at this point in term.
However, some report being too busy to attend welfare events, especially at colleges where they have only taken place on a single day. Graduate students also say they have received little or no support, despite their mounting essay deadlines. Many hope that Week Five welfare initiatives will be implemented more consistently across the University in future.
Now, as Week Five draws to a close, students are looking forward to the final stretch of term. Meetings at the Student Union are ongoing to help those who haven’t been able to access support in college, and anyone feeling really blue is encouraged to consult the Student Wellbeing Subcommittee for advice.