With Mental Health Awareness Week in mind, I wanted to announce the success of one of this year’s campaigns.
When I was elected last year, one of my manifesto pledges was to lobby the University to introduce mental health first aid training for all academic advisors. I know that there are some brilliant advisors who go above and beyond at UEA - I was lucky to have one myself - but this isn't consistent across the University. I wanted to make sure that all students felt able to talk to their academic advisors about mental health if they needed to, but also for advisors to feel confident in signposting and providing appropriate advice.
I'm delighted to announce that the University has now agreed to fund this training!
So, what is mental health first aid training?
The first thing to say is that MHFA is not a replacement for counselling or professional support and it's not about putting the responsibility onto staff. It's about equipping the people you meet every day to be able to listen and understand the complexities of mental health. We want your academic advisors to be able to identify potential signs that a student might need more help.
It's giving people who are already having the conversations the awareness and confidence to be able to provide guidance.
Where students and academics have done the course already, there's been hugely positive feedback, with many saying that it's helped increase confidence and understanding as well as reducing the stigma surrounding mental health.
What have the university agreed to?
The University have agreed to recruit 3 members of staff to deliver the training over the next year, as well as suicide awareness training for staff with mental health as a key part of their role.
The University also has a new mental health and wellbeing taskforce with student representation on it. This taskforce will help to lobby for improvements as outlined in our 'We will be heard' documents, shaped by student feedback. (You can see what we're asking for here.)
With final deadlines and exams, this can be a difficult time of year so remember to make self-care a priority and seek help if you need it.
For general wellbeing and stress busting, check out the activities SSS are putting on here.
For specialist mental health support:
· Talk to your GP
· Go to Student Support Services (pop in, or call 01603 592761 or email firstname.lastname@example.org)
· Call Samaritans 24-hour helpline on 116 123
· Norwich Nightline are available for a chat from 8pm - 8am. You can find out more at https://norwich.nightline.ac.uk or ring 01603 597158.