officer blog


em anderson

welfare, community & diversity

what is the courage project?

Back in 2015/2016, uea(su) carried out research into the impact of poor mental health on PGR students at UEA. From the 162 respondents, results showed that 77% of them had suffered stress while studying. Even more shockingly, 76% had suffered with anxiety and 58% had been depressed whilst studying. I think it is astounding that only 6% had no experience of mental health issues whilst studying.   

It was clear that more needed to be done to support postgraduates in their mental health whilst they study. So along came The Courage Project and here at postgraduate(su), we specifically focus on three key areas. Here is a run-down of what we are doing to help... 

We are developing a research community culture across UEA’s four faculties, Norwich Bioscience Institutes and the University of Suffolk 

  • Several PGR placements have been employed as part of the Courage Project in 2019 to research postgrad life at UEA 

  • The research will be informed by the findings of several cross-faculty and cross-institution focus groups, placing importance on the research community to postgrads 

  • The blog called ‘Lakeside View’ provides contributors a platform to write about their experiences of mental health, community and general PGR life at UEA. 

We are implementing resilience and wellbeing training for PGRs 

  • Introducing mindfulness sessions to provide PGRs with the opportunity to build a practical meditation toolkit to improve resilience in relation to everyday challenges 

  • We will soon be offering Action Learning sets to postgrads, it is a group-led approach to problem solving which will be useful for future research projects 

  • In early 2019, there was the introduction of six-week ‘Yoga for the Mind’ courses which were tailored to help PGRs manage stress and improve their wellbeing 

  • There was an Emotional Intelligence workshop also in February which helped PGRs identify and overcome emotional triggers that is common with PhD research 

  • uea(su) also recently provided mental health first aid training for 32 postgraduate researchers, qualifying them as mental health first aiders 

Providing more ‘low commitment’ sports and fitness activity, including exercise and walk groups to support health and build community among staff and PGRs 

  • We run many regular events and activities to build a sense of community instead of postgrads feeling isolated. Take a look here

  • Walk & Talk events emphasize the importance of regular work breaks and a small bit of exercise away from the desks.  

  • Exercise is a great way to feel good about yourself, PGRunners is a weekly running group where postgrads of all abilities are welcome. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t run in years or days. 

  • If you like getting outdoors, then PhDiggers are the gardening group for you. They carry out projects both on-campus allotments and by the garden near Earlham Hall.  

  • Outside the Courage Project, postgraduates(su) offer Scholars’ Bar weekly pub quiz, Open Mic Nights and 5-a-side football 

  • Finally, postgrads have access to sporting activities for a reduced cost. This includes yoga, badminton and swimming pool access for just £1 

Help and support is available for all our members, you are not alone. For specialist mental health support:  

  • Talk to your GP  

  • Go to Student Support Services (pop in, or call 01603 592761 or email  

  • Call Samaritans 24-hour helpline on 116 123  

  • Norwich Nightline are available for a chat from 8pm - 8am. You can find out more at or ring 01603 597158. 



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