Higher Education for a Healthy Nation: Student well-being and health
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“The benefits of Open “When I finally did tell one “I was really in a bad way University education in of my tutors that I was a prior to having regular prison were immediate. carer, I was amazed at how meetings with the mentor, The lessons helped me much support was given. He and seriously thinking about have a new positive focus explained that I could always walking away from the on rebuilding my life. The contact him if I needed course. My mentor helped challenging modules helped extensions and extra support.” in numerous ways and was rebuild my self-confidence.” supportive practically - Page 50 arranging meetings with Page 11 advice shop and drop in centre, using library facilities, and emotionally – giving perspective, prioritising, managing stress levels.” “The benefits of exercising Page 43 are improved well-being, a healthier lifestyle, more “It’s so important to talk positive attitude, and about mental health and improved sleep and fitness. I for it to be part of everyday have started to get to know conversation because with other people and it’s great one in four people struggling to feel part of a community, “Sharing my story was so with a mental health and I just feel generally more rewarding and I have already problem, it’s more common positive. Going to the Sports received feedback from than you think.” Centre has helped me to friends who related to my not only lose weight, it has experience and were grateful Page 13 improved my mental health that somebody had finally and well-being, especially spoken out”. around anxiety and stress in advance of exams.” Page 7 Page 27 “All my lecturers and student “If I hadn’t done this work services were very keen for experience then I’d be lost. me to take a break rather I’d finish university with a than give up. When you’re degree and not know where in that head space you to go. Doing the GO Wales feel like giving up, but they “Coming here is giving me programme has helped me to persuaded me to take a year confidence for the future. step into the next journey of off and come back.” Whatever tools I get from my life.” here I know I can carry them Page 22 on outside.” Page 62 Page 16
Health and well-being in HE Page 3 Contents Contents 3 Mindfulness programme 33 Introduction 4 Bystander Project 34 Mental and emotional health and well-being 5 ‘No Grey Area’ Campaign 35 The big white wall 6 Student well-being drop-in sessions 36 Building an inclusive community 7 Addressing violence and abuse 37 Stefan’s socks 9 Working together 39 Improving student mental health 10 Raising Awareness of Diabetes 40 My story: Leah Barfield 12 Arts and health 41 Promoting health and well-being 14 Well-being services with local charities 42 Reducing risk and building resilience 15 Improving the Health of Local Communities 44 My story: a student with autism 16 Improving social prescribing in north Wales 45 Improving to access to counselling in Welsh 17 Additional support 47 Mindfulness for International Students 18 Skills for Life 48 Building emotional resilience 19 Inclusive environment 49 Supporting LGBT+ students 20 Supporting students who are carers 50 Supporting students to succeed 21 Boosting resources for blind students 51 My Story: Ella Wilkinson 22 Well-being and health by design 52 Physical activity, health and well-being 23 Substance use and misuse 53 Fight to end Period Poverty 24 Supporting a safer attitude to alcohol 54 Couch to 5k 25 Sustainability and healthy environments 55 Resilience through physical activity 26 Award-winning healthy environments 56 Championing physical activity 28 Single use coffee cup pilot scheme 57 Promoting well-being with coaching 29 Building resilience through work placements 59 Safe environment, personal health, Rachel’s story 60 and relationships 31 Daisy Dewell 61 Safe and inclusive learning environments 32 Successful futures 62
Page 4 Health and well-being in HE Introduction Universities and colleges that invest in the well-being and health of their students are investing in their entire communities, and strengthening the resilience of future generations. The international Okanagan charter for health-promoting universities and colleges recognised that an institution that brings these principles into the core of its operational and academic affairs is a successful one. Furthermore, bringing health and well-being into the mainstream heightens compassion; improves equity and social justice on campus; improves the health of those who learn and work in our institutions; and strengthens the sustainability of our communities and wider society. Universities and colleges play a to access, including support for aims. Along with representative unique role in the daily lives of mental health. These case studies bodies such as Universities Wales, students, and they want to be well- show some of the ways in which NUS Wales, and Colleges Wales, equipped to support their large and institutions are currently working and other public bodies, we will diverse student populations. From with students and partners to create play a crucial role in shaping the supporting their academic progress inclusive learning environments, to support networks made available for early on, to providing a range of help ensure a healthy and resilient students in the future. services and advice when they face student body. challenges, interventions can make a Gwyneth Sweatman, 2018-19 real difference to student lives. “For most students, university is President of the NUS in Wales, a joyous experience where new outlined her vision for well-being We have been making progress friendships are forged, careers and health in higher education: in this area for a while. Working paths are chosen and lessons are with others, we strive to adopt a learned, both inside and outside “Wales is the perfect size for preventive approach through our the lecture theatre. But it is also a universities, students, and the policies, and we are acutely aware of time of transition which can bring mental health sector to work our need to contribute to a society its own challenges, such as living together to make sure that every that boosts people’s physical and away from home for the first time, student in Wales, no matter where mental well-being. This enables us managing finances or coping with or how they study, is able to access to progress the goals set out in the exam pressures.” Kirsty Williams AM, the services and support they need Well-being of Future Generations Education Minister, March 2019 to stay in education.” (Wales) Act, particularly around a healthy Wales and an equal Wales. Earlier this year, the Welsh This publication shines a light Government announced that it on how universities and colleges The Violence Against Women, would provide £2 million of new foster healthy and thriving higher Domestic Abuse and Sexual Abuse funding to support students’ health education environments. We know Act aims to support all people in and well-being, including mental there is more we can all do: we must Wales who have been subject to health, at our universities. I look challenge structures and processes violence and abuse, which impacts forward to seeing what this extra that create barriers; and continually on well-being and mental health. funding boost brings and its impact improve and respond. But we will on the lives of students. also continue to work with our Finally, the Equality Act protects partners to champion successes individuals from unfair treatment We want to go beyond merely and to promote higher education’s and promotes a fair and more equal complying with legislation. HEFCW is contribution to well-being society, and defines some mental committed to sustaining well-being and health. illnesses as protected characteristics. and health in higher education, and we will continue to work with David Allen OBE, Chair, HEFCW, Universities and colleges tend to our student partners, and with June 2019 have a portfolio of well-being and universities, colleges and Welsh health services available for students Government to help realise our
Page 6 Mental and emotional health and well-being Using the Big White Wall to support “We are delighted that the University supported the Students’ Union’s proposal well-being and health and that this service is available to all of our students. We know from talking to our students that The University of Wales Trinity Saint David, in partnership with mental health is extremely its Students’ Union (TSDSU), subscribes to the Big White Wall important to them. The initiative, which provides round-the-clock access to on-line mental availability of 24-hour online health support, and enhances existing campus-based counselling tools will be a significant and mental health support for students. step forward in promoting and enabling better student The initiative was launched support; group courses and mental health.” following feedback from students discussion on issues like negative who needed more support, thinking and stress; and courses Josh Whale, Lampeter were struggling to sleep, feeling and programmes to help students President, TSDSU stressed or having difficulty improve their well-being and coping. Big White Wall enables health. This safe online space helps them to get support, take control students to get things off their and feel better. chest, explore their feelings and learn how to manage their mental The service provides 24/7 online health and well-being. 93% of peer and professional support, members felt better as a result of with trained counsellors. Students using the service. can access anonymous online More: Dai Rogers, Director of Student Services • email@example.com Rhys Dart, Chief Executive, TSDSU • firstname.lastname@example.org bigwhitewall.com
Mental and emotional health and well-being Page 7 Building an inclusive “My advice is to remember you are not alone. Please reach out and talk to community someone. The minute you start to open up, the better it gets”. Emily, Student Cardiff University is working in partnership with Time to Change Wales and with three mental health charities: Gofal, Hafal and Mind Cymru – on a multi-media campaign to end mental health stigma and discrimination in Wales. “Following my involvement “Sharing my story was so in the University’s rewarding and I have already #LetsShare Campaign, I’ve received feedback from spoken to over 10 friends friends who related to my who wanted advice and experience and were grateful now feel comfortable that somebody had finally Cardiff University’s Time to enough to discuss mental spoken out”. Change Pledge is a public health openly”. declaration that an organisation Sophie, Student wishes to tackle mental health Callie, Student stigma, fear and discrimination, and commits to actions that will lead to change and the reduction of discrimination. As part of a whole-University approach to mental health, “Sharing who you are and Cardiff University’s Mental how you feel is always okay, Health Campaign for students and can make things a whole and staff called What’s on your lot better”. mind? #LetsShare focuses on encouraging everyone to open up Nicola, Well-being about mental health. Champion
Mental and emotional health and well-being Page 9 Stefan’s Socks: “Stefan was a much loved Tackling the stigma student by many in our clubs and societies, and Stefan’s around mental health Socks is a brilliant way for our students to open up about their issues and to start changing the stigma Stefan Osgood was a popular student at Aberystwyth University and surrounding mental health. a keen member of the Students’ Union Fencing Society. But he was Not only does our campaign suffering silently from depression and in March 2016, he took his do this, it is also raising own life. money for local charities tied to mental health and Aberystwyth University’s Students’ they stay happy and healthy during supporting our community. Union launched the Stefan’s Socks their time at university. Stefan’s Socks have been campaign in memory of third-year much more than a symbol undergraduate Stefan Osgood. A Washing Line of Well-being was for many, but a way to stand It aims raise awareness and created with students asked to up for people who struggle promote better mental health write an anonymous comment on to use their own voices to among students. mental health on a pink sock and break down those barriers so peg it to the line. Sports teams people can feel like they have Stefan always wore a pair of and societies were encouraged to someone to turn to.” knee-high, bright pink socks during buy a pair of pink socks from the sporting matches. His trademark union in memory of Stefan, which Molly Longfield, hosiery led in October 2017 to the raised more than £10,000 for Well-being Officer at launch of Aberystwyth Students’ Mind Aberystwyth. Aberystwyth University’s Union Stefan’s Socks campaign, Students’ Union aimed at ending the stigma around The Stefan’s Socks campaign and mental health and encouraging bright pink socks have become a students to explore different ways common sight on playing fields, in to look after themselves and ensure the Sports Centre and on campus. More: Bruce Wight – 01970 621 735 • email@example.com Esther Prytherch – 01970 622 365 • firstname.lastname@example.org
Page 10 Mental and emotional health and well-being Improving student mental health and well-being in secure environments The Open University (OU) gives students in secure environments the chance to achieve a higher education qualification through tailored adjustment and support which is sensitive to their circumstances and environments. This gives them a sense of hope for the future, and in turn improves their mental health and well-being. For a number of students, it is • A designated ‘students in • Flexibility and understanding their first experience of education secure environments’ team by the OU when students in a supportive environment in Wales, who liaise with are unable to meet where their academic ability support agencies working module registration or is encouraged, and their self- with students. assignment deadlines. esteem is developed. It provides • Course materials versioned • One-to-one discussions about a positive focus while serving a for use in prison, with ‘off line’ study requirements or support prison sentence, and emphasises packs and alternative formats for students who have the education and employment for courses that normally disclosed mental opportunities that could be require online engagement. health conditions. available to them on their release. • Using the Virtual Campus, • Supporting students through In 2017/18, 89 students were a secure intranet system a period of ‘unexpected’ studying with the OU in secure for specific modules where transition (such as transferring environments in Wales. 13 per students can access a prison or being released) to cent of them declared a disability. range of information, continue with studying, as The OU works closely with prison communication facilities studying provides a consistent education officers in Wales to and other resources that are focus when they are unable to support students, and to enable otherwise available online. control other aspects of HE qualifications to be accessible. • One-to-one tutorials with a their lives. This is done through: specialist tutor, empathetic to the student’s circumstances The OU continues to support and environment. students in secure environments and is planning to develop further the ‘through the gate’ support for students on release when they are More: exceptionally vulnerable. Michelle Matheron, • Michelle.Matheron@open.ac.uk www.open.ac.uk/wales
Mental and emotional health and well-being Page 11 “I tutor students in prison because I feel privileged to have worked closely with so many hard working and talented students, seeing them blossom. I have enjoyed the relationships that have developed. When they leave, they take with them new skills and a pride in what has been achieved. The OU has made a difference.” David Hatherley, Maths Tutor “The benefits of Open University education in prison were immediate. The lessons helped me have a new positive focus on rebuilding my life. The challenging modules helped rebuild my self-confidence.” Student “I was made to look at my life differently.” Student
Page 12 Mental and emotional health and well-being My story: Leah Barfield, University of South Wales Leah Barfield is from Cambridgeshire and is a second year Documentary Photography student at the University of South Wales. “When I originally moved to ensuring that my mental health university, I lived far away from doesn’t affect my quality of work home and it made it difficult to and focus on my studies. adjust to my new environment. My support network was small and I “USW also provides counselling found it difficult to connect with services which many people I peers and others around me.” know have accessed and have had great experiences with them, Having suffered with clinical whether it be about their studies depression and generalised or personal aspects of their anxiety disorder for many years, well-being.” Leah is now working to raise the profile of mental illness within the A former Young Champion for student community. the Time to Change campaign, which works to change the “Within the University, I was lucky way people act and think about enough to receive some mental mental health problems, Leah now health mentoring. This support uses her talent for photography network allows me to have help to document important when it comes to my studies, conversations and stories which
Mental and emotional health and well-being Page 13 “It’s so important to talk about mental health and for it to be part of everyday conversation because with one in four people struggling with a mental health problem, it’s more common than you think.” Leah Barfield, University of South Wales some people who suffer with a “Most people I meet find me they pick up on when I’m not mental health problem may find outgoing and bubbly, but this is feeling great and will help me out difficult to share. just one way I choose to hide how or arrange to do something to I really feel inside. distract me. “#INSIDEMYMIND is a collaborative project which I “My triggers tend to come “It’s so important to talk about created with Time to Change to from social situations or when mental health and for it to be part help the current Young Champions I don’t know anyone - I tend of everyday conversation because express themselves. Mental health to stutter and talk randomly. I with one in four people struggling issues do not discriminate. This worry that people are judging with a mental health problem, it’s project works with individuals me, or don’t want me there and I more common than you think. of different backgrounds, ages find it hard not to spiral off into and ethnicities.” darker thoughts. “Reaching out to the right group of friends or family will help The project is an important tool “Since being at university, I have because they’ll be able to notice for the fight against discrimination forced myself into social situations those indicators and help you and stigma that people face as to try and distract myself from through those darker times.” they share first hand experiences sitting alone and circling my and the importance of own mind. I’ve also confided in speaking out. people who are close to me. Now
Page 14 Mental and emotional health and well-being “Being a Well-being Champion is extremely rewarding and enables you Promoting health and to help fellow students, all while improving important well-being using support skills that are attractive to future employers, such as from peers communication, listening, and teamwork. I would highly recommend becoming a Champion”. Cardiff University’s Student Support and Well-being department provides a Peer Support Programme. ‘Well-being Champions’ are Jasmine, volunteers who support fellow students to enhance their student Well-being Champion life and sense of connectedness at University, while gaining valuable skills and experiences themselves. Well-being Champions offer in the wider group with Well-being advice ‘on the move’, with a Champions and other students. regular presence at libraries, halls, Postgraduate Peer Supporters cafés, specific school buildings volunteer to help fellow students and other University Hotspots. at regular group meetings “Having used the (Student At a Hotspot, students can get to throughout the year. Support) services at the know the Champions, learn tips Well-being staff supervise University myself, this is for improving their well-being, trained Well-being Champions, my way of giving back and take away self-help resources and Postgraduate Peer Supporters and helping others. You don’t receive signposting information. LGBT+ Champions during their need to feel alone because time in the role. The University we are here to help.” Well-being Champions offer hopes to develop the Peer regular ‘Tea & Talk’ sessions, where Support Programmes to provide Sum, students can come along and specialist training for LGBT+ Well-being Champion chat through any difficulties in a Champions and to introduce and Postgraduate Peer relaxed, informal, environment. additional peer support such as Supporter Students can chat one-to-one or Disability Champions.
Mental and emotional health and well-being Page 15 Reducing risk, building resilience: supporting “As the course was delivered in a university setting, and involved university suicidal students counselling service staff as well as clinical psychology staff, our initiative removed A ground-breaking collaboration between Bangor University’s many of the barriers and Counselling Service and the North Wales Clinical Psychology stigma associated in Doctorate Programme was shortlisted for a Times Higher Education accessing specialist help. ‘Outstanding Support for Students’ Award in 2018. Students often fall between what their university provides, and what is Students are provided with a risk of self-harm and suicidality, available in their home bespoke course in Emotional alongside improvements in settings. We have found Regulation Skills from Dialectical emotional regulation skills. Of a way to bring specialised Behaviour Therapy experts, which those that completed the course, support directly to these teaches them a number of skills there was an 88% demonstrated students. This intervention to help them understand their clinical and reliable improvement has not only been able to emotions, alongside strategies rate, with notable decreases in significantly reduce risk to manage the emotions in levels of academic distress. amongst this group of difficult situations. The courses students, but has also helped are led by Dr. Michaela Swales, to equip them with skills that an international expert in will support them beyond Dialectical Behaviour Therapy their life as a student.” (DBT), a NICE-recommended treatment for suicidal and Kate Tindle, self-harming behaviours. Head of Bangor University’s Counselling Comparing measures of emotional Service well-being at the start and at the end of the course has shown significant reductions in the More: Kate Tindle, Head of the Counselling Service, Bangor University • email@example.com
Page 16 Mental and emotional health and well-being My story: A student with autism “Coming here is giving me confidence for the future. and complex mental Whatever tools I get from here I know I can carry them health issues at Cardiff on outside.” Metropolitan University A student with autism and complex mental health issues moved to Cardiff Metropolitan University having previously struggled to develop the social and communication skills needed for a vocational, people-focused degree. “The support has been really helpful. Every time I seek support, I come in trembling Cardiff Met helped the student to and did not feel safe in their home. and I leave with my head understand their condition and The University worked with the held high at the end of a to approach the aspects of study student and Women’s Aid, with a session, knowing that there they found most challenging. The contribution from the university is a solution to my worries University worked closely with hardship fund and mentoring and all is not lost.” their course and placement to support, to enable the student to manage expectations and ensure plan for and leave their domestic that they were being given the situation safely. Local charities, necessary time and support to their advisor and their mentor develop their skills. This helped gave them additional support to them to be more confident, taking develop the skills necessary for risks and challenging themselves independent living, something in an environment in which they they had never done before. felt safe. Now a graduate, they feel positive As the student developed about their future and are confidence, their understanding continuing to develop the skills of their situation changed. They necessary for both independent recognised that they had been living and working. They feel for vulnerable as a result of their the first time in charge of their life condition, disclosing that that they and where they are going. did not consent to their marriage More: Neil Davies – Head of Student Well-being • firstname.lastname@example.org www.cardiffmet.ac.uk/studentservices
Mental and emotional health and well-being Page 17 Improving to access to counselling mental “The steps taken by the counselling service at Bangor University over the last health support in Welsh year not only ensures that counselling support is offered in Welsh but also enables a For many, mental health and well-being support through the better understanding of the medium of Welsh is a key part of a service that meets their needs. needs of Welsh-speaking service users. Together Bangor University is committed to counselling in Welsh, and with our Students’ Union, ensuring access to mental health has met with other local the counselling service has provision for Welsh-speaking external bodies to promote played an important role in students. The Counselling Service, the importance of the bringing the need to develop in conjunction with the Students’ ‘Mae gen i hawl’ campaign, mental health services Union (Undeb) and the University’s and Welsh-language and resources through the Welsh Language Task Group, counselling provision. medium of Welsh to the has been involved in a number forefront of the national of initiatives: • A Welsh-speaking student was debate about this topic.” appointed to an internship • The Counselling Service to support the work of Dr Lowri Hughes, has seen the number of the University’s Student Head of Policy and students requesting (and Mental Health Strategy Development at Canolfan having) counselling in Welsh Group, to enhance Welsh Bedwyr – Bangor double. The University’s language provision for University’s Centre Welsh-speaking counsellor student mental health and for Welsh Language is now looking at clients’ explore viable external Welsh Services, Research experiences of having language resources. and Technology More: Kate Tindle, Head of the Counselling Service, Bangor University • email@example.com
Page 18 Mental and emotional health and well-being Mindfulness for International Students “The course was a great platform for international students to learn about techniques and tools to manage stressful situations. The Counselling Service at Bangor University received a grant from The fact that it was targeted UKCISA to pilot a Mindfulness-Based Stress-Reduction (MBSR) towards international course, tailored specifically for international students. students made it more engaging for them, but also The Service has been providing a International students are most gave them extra confidence variety of psychological services, likely to make use of counselling to discuss their thoughts and including mindfulness courses, resources through group feelings in their non-native for all students for many years, programmes. One of the course’s language, knowing everyone but there was less uptake from groups was run in the environment was in the same boat. It was international students. The of the University’s Faith a safe space for all and the new eight-week course offered Centre, familiarising additional internationalisation of the psychological support to a international students with this course definitely helped in group of international students, venue as a useful resource at that sense.” frequently under-represented in their disposal. one-to-one counselling. Marcel Clusa, Participants learnt skills that International Student The project also aims to: enhanced their personal Support Officer • research the effectiveness of development and capacity to this intervention; manage stress and difficulty. Friendships and cross-cultural • enhance cross –cultural relationships developed within relationships between supportive communities where The University’s Counselling different International student participants felt safe, free to Service will continue to promote groups; and be themselves and able to its mindfulness programmes to understand and support each international students, and will • investigate the other. Nearly 70% of participants work to maintain the positive appropriateness and showed improvement in levels of contact made with International effectiveness of providing functioning and well-being. Student Support Office staff. such group work in a HE institution. More: Kate Tindle, Head of the Counselling Service, Bangor University • firstname.lastname@example.org
Mental and emotional health and well-being Page 19 Building emotional resilience “This training is important because it allows us to give Aberystwyth University Students’ Union won a National Lottery our students and staff ways Community Fund grant to provide Resilience Skills and Suicide in which to help each other Prevention training to staff and to 2,000 students over three years. cope and the skills to deal A series of three-hour interactive and Society officers were among with the situations that come workshops are being held on the first cohort to receive the with being a student. campus, designed and delivered training, followed by a series of by an external, specialist training Train the Trainer courses to enable “We’ll be working closely organisation. The workshops staff to deliver regular sessions with the University’s Student explore how emotional resilience to students. Support and Careers Services can be an effective defence to ensure students who against depression and teach The training is in addition to the are in need continue to participants how to take practical regular workshops and sessions have access to appropriate actions to reduce the risk offered by the University’s Student well-being support where of suicide. Support Service to support needed, while ensuring students’ mental health and the training complements Students’ Union staff, student well-being. existing provision. I’m academic representatives and Club looking forward to rolling this out to our students and staff, particularly our Clubs and Societies who have been asking for additional training in these areas.” Molly-Jean Longden, Aberystwyth Students’ Union Well-being Officer More: Martin Dodd • email@example.com www.abersu.co.uk
Page 20 Mental and emotional health and well-being Supporting LGBT+ students’ mental and emotional well-being Cardiff University’s Student Support and Well-being team has been working to improve access to support for LGBT+ students. The team created a set of activities with the Students’ Union, LGBT+ Society, “Our work with our LGBT+ a Student Focus Group, and in response to evidence published by student community to Student Minds, the UK’s student mental health charity. improve access to support for them is something we A number of new options now exclusively for students and feel is really important. We support LGBT+ University staff members who identify know from the evidence students, including: with the term trans. base of national research • The option for first year that there is a greater • LGBT+ Champions: fellow students to elect to live in vulnerability around LGBT+ LGBT+ students trained by ‘LGBT+ students & Allies’ people’s mental health. University student support accommodation. We wanted to work in professionals in the essentials • Specialist support and partnership to improve the of peer support and LGBT+- information to those support we offer.” awareness training, and who have experienced offer well-being-related and domestic abuse. Ben Lewis, practical peer support. • One-to-one support from the Lewis Director Student • Workshops, including café- University’s LGBT+ Chaplain Support and Well-being style, peer-led workshops for students wishing to and workshops based around explore spirituality. Coming Out at University. • A Trans Support Pathway Additional, specialist training is for students transitioning provided for Student Support and at University. Students can Well-being staff to enable LGBT+ make contact anonymously if students to feel as supported as they do not wish to identify possible when accessing support themselves but would like to services. Further work with share information about being organisations such as Stonewall trans at Cardiff University. Cymru and Student Minds and • Making a safe space available, creating an inclusive virtual regularly at the University and environment are to come.
Mental and emotional health and well-being Page 21 Supporting students to succeed “Following years and years The OU in Wales works closely with students to discuss disabilities of being told that I was and the help they might need to study. This includes identifying the class clown and being support needs as early as possible; suggesting coping strategies and dismissed and thrown by the sources of support; recognising students’ concerns related to study; wayside of the education and signposting support options. system – the OU began to assist me in finally starting At some point during their mentoring and study my higher education journey studies, many students with skills support. at the age of 38. I was mental health conditions will • Encouraging students to given a disabled students’ experience anxiety about use peer support, such allowance, a computer that submitting their assignments or as Nightline, operated could read to me, and the taking examinations. Students in by volunteers from OU correct software to help with distance-learning environment Students Association. my condition. This was the might also feel isolated and need • Encouraging students to use first time in my entire life a regular point of contact. The OU well-being resources such that anyone had ever helped OU’s Student Support Teams work as the booklet ‘Studying and me in the education system with tutors and Disabled Students’ Staying Mentally Healthy’, and the OU continued to help Services to identify students who relaxation techniques and me throughout the duration need support and establish the mindfulness videos. of my degree.” most effective ways to provide this • Working with students’ Mental support at a distance. Health Support Teams and an John Spence, OU Mental Health Adviser. OU Graduate and Wales This might include: • Promoting equality and Adult Learner of the • In-depth conversations diversity values to help Year 2018 with educational advisers students talk about their to make students aware difficulties and combat any of available arrangements perceptions of stigma. such as requesting extensions, reporting One student experienced extreme special circumstances or anxiety around assignment deferring study. submission for over two years. • Arranging additional support Working with their tutors, Student sessions with tutors to focus Support and the Mental Health on a specific assignment or Team to develop an action plan study topic, or revision and for managing their anxiety and exam preparation. seeking help, they constructed • Encouraging students to coping strategies and achieved apply for a Disabled Students distinctions in their modules. Allowance to access specialist
Page 22 Mental and emotional health and well-being My story: Ella Wilkinson, University of “All my lecturers and student services were very keen for Wales Trinity Saint David me to take a break rather than give up. When you’re in that head space you feel like giving up, but they When Ella Wilkinson started her final year at university, the anxiety persuaded me to take a year and depression that surfaced during her first year returned with a off and come back.” vengeance. This time it was so bad she left her course for a year. Ella Wilkinson, “The first thing I noticed was a “I managed with medication and University of Wales Trinity change in my sleeping patterns. I weekly appointments near to Saint David was sleeping very erratically and where I lived from the university then my attendance at lectures counselling service, but when I dropped. That made me more came back in the third year things anxious and it spiralled.” began to slip. I played down how bad I was feeling but I think When Ella first reported feeling my parents had an idea and my anxious and depressed in her first dad came down from home in year she was seen by UWTSD Leicester to check on me.” counselling services within a month. She says that and Ella believes young people are medication from her GP helped under pressure to “have the best her cope. time of their lives” at university, when the reality is that it can be But when symptoms returned a lonely. She’s taken the step to few weeks into her third year, she describe her experience hoping told lecturers she wanted to leave. it will help break the stigma of They persuaded her to take a year mental health and ensure other out rather than quit outright and young people get the rapid supported her to do that, she says. support she says her university gave her. Extract from: ‘I didn’t realise how ill anxiety was making me’ by Abbie Wightwick Education Editor at WalesOnline/Media Wales. Reproduced with permission.
Physical activity, health and well-being Page 23 Physical activity, health and well-being
Page 24 Physical activity, health and well-being A Students’ Union fights to end Period Poverty “I am so proud of our students for getting behind this innovative campaign. No woman should have One in ten girls in the UK has been unable to afford sanitary wear. to worry about missing a The University of South Wales’ tackling this form of gender lecture or class because Students’ Union (USWSU) has inequality; they were tired of she cannot afford basic introduced a Period Exchange to the tampon tax; and it was sanitary products.” provide free sanitary products unacceptable for students to lack in all of its facilities. The Period access to essential period products Sian Taylor, Exchange ensures that a lack of because they couldn’t afford them. Chief Executive Officer, access to sanitary products does USW Students’ Union not act as a barrier to a student’s Since the campaign launched, ability to fully participate in students have reacted positively university life. by contributing items to the exchange and engaging on social The campaign was inspired by media. While The Period Exchange the Red Box Project and research was established as a short-term conducted by the BBC, which solution to the larger issue of found that free menstrual Period Poverty, the willingness of products helped improve school students to contribute sanitary attendance. USW Students’ Union products to the exchange wanted to send a clear message has created a successful and “I was elected as a student that: they were committed to sustainable solution. officer two years ago and this is easily the campaign I am most proud of.” More: www.uswsu.com Liam Powell, Vice President for Education and Welfare.
Physical activity, health and well-being Page 25 Promoting physical health and well-being “Starting C25K has made such a difference to my attitude towards exercise. I with Couch to 5k would never have had the confidence to run on my own, but now in week five Cardiff Metropolitan Sport has rolled out its own version of Couch I can run for 10 minutes to 5K (C25K), which is suitable for all, to students on both of its without stopping. I feel so campuses and the uptake in participation has been positive. much better and confident since starting, and have now Couch to 5k was set up by the instructor or on their own. The started regularly attending NHS to get people moving. It is sessions are a mix of walking fitness classes within Cardiff aimed at those who have never and running, gradually improving Met, something I never run and would like to, or those stamina and fitness in the nine thought I would do before”. who want to be more active. weeks, and completing a 5k run. Both of Cardiff Metropolitan Gwenllian Wilson, University’s campuses are Due to the popularity of the C25k, Business Management surrounded by large and accessible the University runs this event student parks, and those who do not want every 12 weeks. This year Cardiff to go outside can complete the Met is sponsoring the Cardiff 10k, programme in the University’s and all students who successfully fitness centres. complete the C25K program will have the opportunity of a free Students are given a free place to run the 10k along with programme to follow for nine 8,000 runners. weeks, in sessions with an More: Allison Jones, Fitness Manager • AGJones@cardiffmet.ac.uk www.cardiffmet.ac.uk/sport
Page 26 Physical activity, health and well-being Promoting health, well-being and resilience “We hope that by allowing students to access the through physical activity Sports Centre freely, it will encourage more students to participate in sport, health and well-being activities. From free fitness classes to daily swims during exam time, Working collectively with Aberystwyth University is taking positive action to boost the others, we are keen to numbers of students using its Sports Centre facilities to improve understand and address their mental health and well-being. barriers to engagement, and innovate our offer to reach While exercise builds resilience for five different gym areas, more out to those who might not both physical and mental health, than 60 exercise classes a week, automatically consider sport many people find the barrier to a pool and sauna, a climbing and active lifestyle is for exercise, either real or perceived, wall and a 400m floodlit running them, ultimately improving stops them from taking that first track. The Platinum Pass for the student’s experience and step. Overcoming this barrier and non-residential students costs enjoyment of University life.” encouraging as many students £125 per year. As a result of these as possible to take up some form initiatives, student footfall through Darren Hathaway, of exercise is a priority for the the Sports Centre increased by Manager of the Sport University’s well-being agenda. 25,000 visits in 2017/18 compared Centre at Aberystwyth to the previous year. University Aberystwyth’s flagship initiative Other measures taken by the gives students who live in University to support access to university accommodation free exercise include: and unlimited access to its Sports • A Well-being Pathway to Centre’s Platinum Pass, offering Health for students suffering
Physical activity, health and well-being Page 27 with their health, with a • Discover Aber – Freshers’ choice of: five sessions Week walking and jogging with a personal trainer; sessions to familiarise “The benefits of exercising group exercise for mind students with the town are improved well-being, and body; or three months’ while exercising. a healthier lifestyle, more gym membership with a • Couch Potato to Spring Bean, positive attitude, and buddy system. a four week introduction to improved sleep and fitness. I • Free daily fitness and well- exercise for students with have started to get to know being classes, and swimming high anxiety. other people and it’s great during exam periods. • Dance-Fit Dark (luminous to feel part of a community, • Short promotions of £1 per outfits and exercise in the and I just feel generally more day for unlimited Sports dark with disco lights for positive. Going to the Sports Centre use. those who have body image Centre has helped me to or co-ordination concerns). not only lose weight, it has The University also offers improved my mental health short courses to inspire The Sports Centre now opens and well-being, especially those who may otherwise earlier in the morning across around anxiety and stress in not venture into the Sports seven days to meet demand. advance of exams.” Centre including: The University continues to • Quiet Inductions for support health and well- Stephen Johnstone, autistic students. being through making sport Student and exercise accessible and attractive to all students. More: Darren Hathaway • firstname.lastname@example.org www.aber.ac.uk/en/sportscentre
Page 28 Physical activity, health and well-being Championing physical activity “I am currently a professional rugby player with the and mental health Ospreys and have recently completed my introduction to counselling course. I have a keen interest in mental Bridgend College has introduced rugby sessions available to all health and would like to help female students across its two main campuses. This is led by a in any way possible.” Professional Graduate Certificate in Education student and qualified rugby coach, who is positive about the impact of sport and physical Lloyd Ashley, activity on mental health. Student Rugby Coach The College is trying to increase poor mental health to try different the number of students involved strategies to try to improve it. The in physical activity to improve College hopes to further grow the their confidence, self-esteem number accessing this opportunity and general physical and mental and overcoming the barriers of health. The Student Well-being participation in sport and Team reached out to students to physical activity. find out what they wanted and bring their ideas to fruition. To develop the team further, the College offers taster sessions to A significant number of female groups of students, and supports students requested a female rugby students in improving team team at the same time as the building skills, communication, student offered to coach a rugby physical and mental health, team. The support of the new social networks, self-worth rugby coach made it possible for and confidence. students who were suffering with More: Mrs Samantha Gunnarsson (Well-being and Safeguarding Manager) • SGunnarsson@bridgend.ac.uk • www1.bridgend.ac.uk
Physical activity, health and well-being Page 29 Promoting physical health and well-being with coaching A hands-on Foundation Degree in Rugby Coaching and Development is the result of a partnership between the University of South Wales, the Welsh Rugby Union, Cardiff Blues and the Dragons. As part of the course, students gain practical coaching skills with Dragons or Cardiff Blues community rugby teams. Students “This partnership is a great “This is an excellent initiative go on to work as coaches within example of that investment, and the collaboration communities, developing and with key partners working between the University, WRU delivering sports initiatives. together for the good of the and the regions will provide students and the game.” the next generation of The course allows students community coaches in Wales to study all sub-disciplines of Ryan Jones, to support the development coaching and fitness, and gain WRU Head of Rugby of the game at grassroots industry-recognised qualifications. Participation level. Integral to the course They learn all aspects of children is that students learn about and youth coaching, rugby the importance of their own coaching, rugby development, health and fitness as well social inclusion and sports as that of the children and management skills. young people with whom they engage throughout their course.” Paul Rainer, Head of Sports More: Paul Rainer • email@example.com
Page 30 Physical activity, health and well-being Photo: Promoting physical health and well-being with coaching
Safe environment, personal health, and relationships Page 31 Safe environment, personal health, and relationships
Page 32 Safe environment, personal health, and relationships Creating safe and inclusive learning “The Students’ Union welcomes opportunities to open the dialogue environments surrounding student safety and well-being. By working with the University to deliver Shared respect for one another should be embedded in the these opportunities, we university experience. Universities should be inclusive learning and aim to foster a culture of working environments, where all learners and staff are supported, acceptance and respect for feel respected and can demonstrate their potential. all students and staff, and work towards Wales’s goal As part of its induction harassment, and the importance of being an inclusive and programme for all new students, of consent. proudly diverse nation.” the University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD) has The sessions encourage open Becky Ricketts, introduced dedicated sessions discussions across courses and President Carmarthen to create conversations around boundaries about these important Campus Trinity Saint David equality, diversity and respect topics, creating a supportive Students’ Union to the forefront of the students’ community and aiming to go experience. These sessions, beyond raising awareness, developed with the Students’ The University plans to introduce a Union, introduce a range of topics short online course about equality including barriers to equality, and respect for new students the impact of inappropriate to complete as part of their behaviours, becoming an active induction process. bystander, what constitutes sexual “These sessions have been welcomed by our students, who are fully engaged with the process. We have developed a great partnership with the Students’ Union to ensure that these sessions are embedded across the University.” Dr Lewis Pearson, Head of Life Design More: Lewis Pearson • Lewis.firstname.lastname@example.org
Safe environment, personal health, and relationships Page 33 Mindfulness programme: a proactive approach to “A sense of community is built up in the groups, as mental health provision sharing practice tends to deepen it. The tendency is to notice those things that resource us, rather than Rising concerns in the higher Mindfulness - the practice of deplete us, and make choices education sector call for a more fostering greater awareness of to enhance well-being.” proactive approach to student the present moment - can help to mental health. A cultural shift manage stress, sleep, focus and Heather Fish, is needed to move away from concentration. Three introductory Mindfulness tutor reactive problem solving, towards sessions and four eight-week a heightened focus on well- mindfulness courses have run being that is embedded into across UWTSD campuses since the student experience. The 2018. The student response has University of Wales Trinity Saint been overwhelmingly positive, David (UWTSD) has responded by describing the courses as “a good offering free mindfulness courses way to tackle life’s problems”, by for students as part of a broader providing a “variety of tools for offering of self-reflection, life every situation” and helping to skills development and personal “relax before assignments, exams development content. and deadlines”.
Page 34 Safe environment, personal health, and relationships “The transition from thinking you are a victim to a survivor is one that is long and can be a struggle. Having made this transition myself through various types of abuse, it Bystander project: is important to me to aid others with this transition if working to create they seem stuck. I have also now acquired skills, from the safer communities Bystander Intervention, to help prevent someone having to go through this transition The #MeToo movement shone a global light on the experiences at all.” of those who have experienced sexual harassment, violence or abuse. To help raise awareness of the issues and how witnesses can Charley Rodgers, respond, Aberystwyth University has partnered with Welsh Women’s student Aid to offer Bystander Intervention training to students. 150 Aberystwyth University rape and sexual assault, domestic students have so far attended abuse, and how to develop the a free “Bystander Intervention” skills necessary to safely intervene training programme showing them as a trained Bystander. how to recognise and intervene “The Bystander sessions to stop harassment, violence have not only made me more and abuse. The training gives aware of pressing issues in students the skills and confidence “Aberystwyth University society, particularly those to respond appropriately when has been very successful in concerning interpersonal they are worried someone may promoting the Bystander violence, but have also be experiencing abuse or sexual Intervention with students taught me how to approach violence. It takes a preventative and staff, and the support potentially difficult situations approach, and looks at changing for the project has been in an appropriate manner. cultural norms that condone fantastic. The University These skills are invaluable sexism and harassment. has shown a tremendous and I’ll use them throughout commitment to addressing my life. Everyone should The programme is offered twice violence against women, think about what they can do a year in workshops led by a domestic abuse and sexual to be better, this course can qualified trainer from Welsh violence on campus”. help be the first step.” Women’s Aid, with contributions from Aberystwyth University staff. Alice Lilley, Emily Winfield, Students cover a range of topics Welsh Women’s Aid student including culture and gender, More: Jeremy Newman – 01970 6222516 • email@example.com Esther Prytherch 01970 622365 • firstname.lastname@example.org
Safe environment, personal health, and relationships Page 35 ‘No Grey Area’ Campaign: Promoting a ‘Zero-Tolerance’ “In the last twelve months, Bangor University has approach to sexual harassment increased its work to prevent and provide support in the area of sexual violence. A member of staff has In 2018, Bangor University Students’ Union began a University-wide been appointed to provide campaign to tackle sexual violence and to promote the University’s specialised support for Zero-Tolerance approach to all forms of harassment. No Grey students and work across Area’s message was simple – that the University takes all incidents the University training staff of harassment seriously and believes that there is no ambiguity and leading an institutional between acceptable and unacceptable behaviour. strategy on the prevention A short video featuring prominent University’s multiple campuses, of harassment, hate crime members of the University’s senior engaging with students, and and sexual violence. Peer- staff team and students raised promoting the zero-tolerance to-peer awareness raising awareness of the negative effects message. The campaign is an important part of any of sexual harassment, driving culminated with a march through strategy to address sexual home the message that it is safe the city’s high street to ‘Reclaim violence in universities, and to come forward and that the the Night’, a national campaign the No Grey Areas campaign University will respond. raising awareness of violence has been an important part against women and demanding of this awareness raising.” The week-long campaign included justice for rape survivors. outreach work across Bangor Maria Lorenzini, Director of Student Services, Bangor, and member of the Universities UK Taskforce on Harassment, Hate Crime, and Violence Against Women. More: Helen Munro, Student Equality and Diversity Officer, Bangor University Students’ Union, • email@example.com
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