Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Provost, Professor Bernie Morley

It has been almost a year since my blog for World Mental Health Day 2018, and I wanted to share some of the progress we’ve made towards enhancing health and wellbeing for our staff and students.

I’d like to pay tribute to the commitment of the Health and Wellbeing Steering Group (which has representatives from the University, trade unions and SU), and the dedication of front line staff, who have all helped to make real progress on our action plan. The aim that unites us is creating a learning environment and organisational culture that enhances health and wellbeing across our community.

Some of the key initiatives in the action plan include:

  • Introducing the role of Wellbeing Champions and developing a role profile and training plan to support this network;
  • Establishing and rolling out Wellbeing Recovery Action Plans and Wellbeing Action Plans for individuals, Departments and Faculties;
  • Developing specific support packages for a range of staff groups such as academics, people on placements and personal tutors;
  • Extending Mental Health training to student leaders and volunteers within SU groups and clubs;
  • A campaign on male mental health, led by the SU;
  • Re-tendering for Occupational Health and Employee Assistance to meet the needs of a wider range of requirements; and
  • Developing a wellbeing web page to enable staff to access self-help resources.

This programme is a work in progress and we will be learning and adapting as we go. As I mentioned, it has also been a real team effort and I thought colleagues would appreciate hearing from others who have been instrumental in driving change.

Health and Wellbeing Manager, Heather Girling

I was really excited to be appointed to the new role of Health and Wellbeing Manager earlier this year, focussing on a range of projects to support University staff. It has been a great pleasure engaging with the Health and Wellbeing Steering Group to bring alive the ‘Whole University Approach’ to mental wellbeing, considering the needs and opportunities for our community.

I am part of the Safety, Health and Employee Wellbeing (SHEW) team and we recently moved from several separate offices in Wessex House to a new home in 2 South. We hope this will not only help us work together more effectively but also offer a space in which we can better support our colleagues.

One of the key projects I have been leading is a series of workshops for staff on managing mental wellbeing and it has been great to have the opportunity to connect with around 300 colleagues to date, to discuss this important topic and develop their knowledge, skills and confidence.

The feedback from these workshops has been really positive and more will be scheduled this autumn as well as a programme of workshops for colleagues in the Education and Research job family throughout. More information on these will be announced shortly.

To align with ‘Be Well Week’ which is taking place across the University week commencing 14 October, our team will be organising a range of wellbeing events for staff. Keep an eye out on the staff homepage in October for further information.

Deputy Director Student Services, Catherine Bailey

In addition to its support services for students, the Student Services Team is also focussing on more preventative programmes. Recent initiatives include Read Well, a joint project with the Library to offer books that can support wellbeing. Prescription for Exercise is a joint initiative with SU, STV and academic departments. The pilot was very successful with a large number of student volunteers supporting students who engaged well with the programme and who showed good outcomes in improvements in their mental health. The University has granted more funding for this initiative to run again next year. Our online self-help platform for wellbeing and mental health is also up and running, and you can read more about Silvercloud here.

The Student Services Team is working closely with the SU to prepare for the start of term including Welcome Week and induction activities for new students, so they are aware of the support that is available as soon as they arrive at the University. In addition, we’re already working on a series of activities for students during October’s ‘Be Well Week’ which has become a regular part of the calendar for each Semester.

One of the projects I’m really excited about for the coming year is a partnership with Mind, the mental health charity. I can’t reveal too much until the project is launched, but we’ve been working with the Bath branch of Mind on a programme which may involve gardening and allotments! We are looking forward to sharing more information with our community in the months to come.

Finally, I’d like to remind colleagues that student Wellbeing Drop In sessions operate every afternoon (including weekends) throughout the summer months and the 4321 Staff Advice line is available if staff have any student related concerns.