This year’s Glasgow University charity fashion show, Horizon, is in association with the Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH), Scotland’s leading mental health charity who visions “a society where people are able to live their lives fully regardless of present or past circumstances”. Due to this association, Horizon will follow the theme of positivity and light. These elements were definitely shown at the GUCFS Launch Party held at Studio 93. The moment you entered, the charming candlelit courtyard welcomed you to what would become a night of genuinity and poise. The venue took on a homely vibe, as it was set within a modern type-house. Guests at the party favorably used the concept of B.Y.O.B. (Bring Your Own Booze) but it was also met with a tasteful tone. The event was exclusive to 100 people, and the dress code was ‘Dress to impress’, and let’s just say I was definitely impressed.
Upon entering the venue, you were met with Autumn and Jocelyn, the president and vice-president of GUCFS. Autumn, wearing an elegant combination of French Connection and Never Fully Dressed and Jocelyn wearing a stunning black dress from Topshop. For both, mental health is a matter they became more aware about over the last year and something that had come close to their hearts. It was during committee interviews when they realized it was not just an important topic to them, but it was a matter close to everyone. During the committee interviews, it was asked which charity they would want to affiliate with, in response, all committee members spoke about mental health. Just by that answer, Autumn and Jocelyn knew they would have a hard-working committee who are all in it for the same purpose. The commitment was shown as some committee members took part in the ‘Superhero Skydive’, organized by SAMH twice a year. Jocelyn was one of the members who decided to partake in the initiative in memory of her classmate who sadly lost their life to suicide. As an outsider to the committee, hearing all these genuine stories showed how committed the fashion show is to raising funds for mental health.
Don’t think many people would believe cork shoes are the new black, but the Director of Marketing, David Philpott, sure tried to convince me they were. David found the GUCFS committee a place where you were able to develop your own interest whilst doing something to make a positive impact on people’s lives. Although not much was given away on the fashion show, he expressed that a positive image would be shown of people’s differences; rather than using our differences against each other, it centers on something we can learn from each other. Similarly, the brand ambassadors I spoke to throughout the night showed that they were grateful for being able to do something to help others. Maddi, one of the BA’s, explained that there is a generational divide in regards to mental health. She finds that our generation is more concerned with mental health than perhaps older generations. Perhaps as there is more accessible information on mental health, and the stigma around it has lessened. She gives the tip of maintaining a good exercise routine to alleviate the mind, which is also a top tip given by SAMH!
What was further great to see is that not only was the immediate commitee genuinely committed, but also the models and sponsors. As an ambassador for Proper Corn, the very funny Clare McDevitt, found it important to sponsor this year’s fashion show as it raises an issue that is often stigmatized. Proper Corn pushes for everyone’s wellbeing, therefore an obvious link was made with GUCFS and SAMH who encourage the same vision. Holly Hepburn and Ossian Brosman, both models for this years fashion show, could not see why not to join. Every year is different, but every year it follows the same goal of helping a good cause. A psychology student himself, Ossian knows some of the issues mental health faces. The stigma around it can be the worst thing and that’s why the engagement and awareness is a vital part to why he joined this year’s fashion show. He further explains that having locally-sourced sponsors like Proper Corn creates a collective movement to help support the associated charity.
I had the chance to talk to Sarah Nicolson, the Corporate Partnership Manager of SAMH, who came along for a wee boogie. SAMH found that associating itself with a university body was applicable to its core values. University students often find themselves in a high-pressured environment. Between university work, a job, extra activities, and maintaining at least four pints of fun a week, you can’t blame one for being stressed or anxious. It came as a surprise to me that stress and anxiety were first of all, classified as a mental health disorder, and secondly the two most common disorders. These are feelings and emotions we are all guaranteed to experience at some point, but we are too afraid or embarrassed to talk about it. Sarah further explains that to an extent, stress can be healthy, but there is a flipping point to where it can lead to other things. It is that flipping point where SAMH tries to reduce the stigma with their ‘See Me’ campaign, focusing on changing the stigma and reducing it’s taboo status. The stigma is amplified when it comes to men talking about their mental health, as the social aspect of being a ‘man’ comes into play. It is important to remember that regardless of your gender, everyone has the right to be heard and listened too. Although cliché, you needs to know that you are not alone and that being a man sometimes only applies to having that extra pint.
Under an October full moon, I walked away from GUCFS launch event with two words in mind: genuine commitment. Everyone who is involved in setting up the fashion show was genuinely committed to its chartable association with SAMH. Even before semester started committee members volunteered during weekends collecting donations. But the most inspiring part of it all was the sense of collectivism and teamwork amongst everyone involved. From president, to brand ambassador, to model and sponsor, everyone was in it to win it for SAMH.
I’ll sign off here, but remember that mental health does not have a physical attribute, but it can be the simplicity of asking someone “are you ok?” that can make all the difference in one’s life. Don’t underestimate the Power of Ok.
If you’d like to donate or get more information about mental health, go to
GUCFS can be found on Facebook @GUCharityFashionShow.
– Tom Smits