The University of Worcester’s work to support students and promote positive mental wellbeing has been shortlisted for a major national award.
The University has been shortlisted in the Times Higher Education Awards 2018 in the category of Outstanding Support for Students.
It recognises the University’s innovative approach to mental health and wellbeing, through its unique ‘Suicide Safer’ initiative and a range of other support programmes.
Vice Chancellor and Chief Executive, Professor David Green, said: “Student mental health has long been a top priority at Worcester. Back in 2004, we were one of the very first universities to appoint specialist mental health counsellors, who play a vital part in our truly inclusive approach to student personal development and achievement.
“We are very proud of the outstanding work done by our counsellors and our staff generally, who, day in day out work to improve student mental health and to promote wellbeing and resilience. In recent years, we have sought out national partnerships to promote suicide safer initiatives around the country. We are delighted that the efforts of all of these staff have been recognised through the shortlisting for this award.”
Professor Green continued: “As a University we very actively support the National Suicide Prevention Alliance and have worked closely with the James Wentworth-Stanley Memorial Fund and other charitable and voluntary organisations, with whom we share a deep commitment to prevent suicide.”
The University’s 'Suicide Safer' project is a multi-agency initiative, bringing together local authorities, NHS Trusts, student, voluntary and charitable organisations in a co-ordinated approach to suicide prevention. The initiative has delivered extensive training opportunities, awareness raising, and research, leading to improved student support, and has been identified as a best practice example in several national guidance, student and sector publications, including Universities UK’s (UUK) Suicide Safer Universities toolkit, which was launched this week.
Students at Worcester have access to an extensive range of support services through the University’s Student Services team. The Mental Health and Counselling Service offers a daily triage service for crisis assessment and immediate support, while other initiatives range from visits by Pets as Therapy dogs, weekly informal drop-in sessions and campaigns throughout the year, promoting wellbeing services and encouraging conversations about mental health.
All domestic and security staff at the University of Worcester have ‘supporting student wellbeing’ included in their job descriptions and have received training in Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) and the University has also employed student residential ambassadors who are also MHFA trained.
Pro Vice Chancellor, Ross Renton, said: “We make every effort to ensure our students are very well supported throughout their time at the University, and have introduced some really excellent initiatives, many in partnership with the Students’ Union, who are equally committed to promoting positive mental health and wellbeing.
“We have an annual University Mental Health Day which, along with many other events throughout the year, helps to raise awareness and signpost students who might need support to the services on offer. We have excellent student satisfaction at Worcester, with many students praising the support they receive during their studies with us.”
Two PhD studentships are currently under way at the University, the first exploring student suicide incidence, recording/monitoring, and current prevention and response strategies in UK higher education institutions, which has received national support from UUK, Public Health England, the Department of Health and the Office for National Statistics. The second is exploring postvention support needs and roles for staff in HE following a student suicide.
The winners of the Times Higher Education Awards will be announced during a ceremony in November.