University Mental Health Day: What We are Doing to Promote Wellbeing | AECC University College

University Mental Health Day: What We are Doing to Promote Wellbeing

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Trees on campus at AECC UC

University Mental Health Day takes place annually on 14th March. Its aim is to get the nation talking about student mental health and working together to make mental health a priority. We caught up with Lisa Bates and Julie Gill from Student Services and Wellbeing, to find out what AECC University College is doing to promote wellbeing, not just on this day but every day.

What is Planned for University Mental Health Day on Campus

Lisa Bates, Head of Student Services and Wellbeing, said:

“We have lots of events happening on the day, which are a collaboration between Student Services and Wellbeing, and other teams, such as the Students’ Union, Access and Participation, HR, and Library and Learning Services. These include a coffee ‘afternoon’ from 12-2pm; a pop-up foodbank to help students with food during the cost-of-living crisis; a range of crafts and activities such as mindfulness colouring, and origami; a raffle; and free pizza! From 2pm onwards, the Student Services team is running an exam stress session in the run-up to the upcoming exams. All the details are on our Student Services Instagram page. Please pop into Student Services if you have any questions or would like to find out more.”

Above: Lisa Bates – Head of Student Services and Wellbeing

How the Day Fits in with our Overall Wellbeing Services

“We promote a whole institutional approach, to highlight wellbeing for both our students and staff.

“As well as organising events on the day itself, we provide wellbeing support throughout the year. There are one-to-one triage sessions available every morning between 10-12am with our Wellbeing team. Students can come and talk about anything with us, such as exam stress, bereavement, or family issues. We will then talk to students about the best support going forward.

“We also offer a wide range of student workshops. So far this year we have run workshops on anxiety, depression, eating disorders and suicide prevention. We also have a Disability Advisor who can support students with plans during their studies to work out what is needed to make the most out of their time here at AECC UC.”

Mental Health First Aid Support at AECC UC

Julie Gill, Manager of Student Services and Wellbeing, and a Mental Health First Aider, tells us more about the support provided:

“There are 30 trained Mental Health First Aiders at AECC UC. They are qualified to identify when someone may need help, then signpost them to the relevant places. It could be that they need help with something very small, or it could be working with people with suicidal ideology.

“Mental Health First Aid training is offered to AECC UC staff, Student Services’ Ambassadors, and the Students’ Union. There are two days of training, which can be very intensive and confronting, although it does create a real bond between the people on the course.

“The Mental Health First Aider Scheme is so important. Since lockdown, we are so much more attuned to our own mental health. This is a brilliant and positive thing. It also means that there are more people that recognise they need some help. That is where our Mental Health First Aiders can help and can be the first responders. We can then either signpost them to external organisations, or we can help them further at Student Services.

“AECC UC has invested the time and finance in understanding how important mental health is, and we are supporting as many people as possible to access the Mental Health First Aid training. The more we can support our community with Mental Health First Aid, the better.”

Julie Gill

Above: Julie Gill – Manager of Student Services and Wellbeing | Photo 2: Mental Health First Aider graduates – February 2024

Message of Support from Professor Lesley Haig – Vice-Chancellor

“I am passionate about promoting and supporting our student and staff members’ positive mental health and wellbeing at AECC UC. In line with the University Mental Health Charter Programme, we adopt a whole-university approach, which means that everyone is working together to support each other. For our university education to continue to be a positive and life-changing experience, and for students to achieve success from their time with us, it is essential that we continue to support our community’s wellbeing at the right time, in the right place and in the right way.”

Photo: Professor Lesley Haig – Vice-Chancellor

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