UWTSD supports #UniversitiesMentalHealthDay


07.03.2019

It’s University Mental Health Day today, a campaign run jointly by Student Minds and the University Mental Health Advisors Network (UMHAN).  The campaign is focusses on the power of people using their voice to shape the future of student mental health.

Rising concerns in the HE sector has prompted UWTSD to launch a number of initiatives to support student mental health.

Director of Student Services, Dai Rogers says: “I’m pleased that the University has launched a number of initiatives to support our students’ mental health and wellbeing.  The Big White Wall initiative, in collaboration with the University's Students' Union, provides access to on-line mental health support and our Mindfulness sessions for students provides a focus on general their general wellbeing and support the fantastic work done by our professional team mental health advisers across our campuses”.

In January 2019, UWTSD, in partnership with Trinity Saint David Students’ Union (TSDSU), subscribed to the Big White Wall initiative, providing access to on-line mental health support to enhance existing campus-based counselling and mental health support for students.   

The initiative was launched following feedback from students who needed more support, were struggling to sleep, feeling low, stressed or not coping.  

Big White Wall provides:

  • 24/7 online support, meaning support isn’t dependant on campus access 
  • Structured self-administered courses that promote mental wellness
  • Peer support and networks monitored by mental health professionals

 

The initiative provides a safe space online to talk about issues, explore feelings and learn how to improve and self-manage mental health and wellbeing.   93% of members feel better as a result of using the service.

Josh Whale, Lampeter President at TSDSU, said: “We are delighted that the University supported the Students’ Union’s proposal and that this service is available to all of our students. We know from talking to our students that mental health is extremely important to them. The availability of 24-hour online tools will be a significant step forward in promoting and enabling better student mental health.”

The initial monitoring and evaluation have been very positive and the newly established Student Support and Wellbeing Forum at the University will look to enhance the emotional support provided to students.

 

In addition, UWTSD has launched a free 8-week Mindfulness courses for students as part of a broader offering of self-reflection, life skills development and personal development content.

Mindfulness is the practice of fostering greater awareness of the present moment and can assist managing stress, sleep, focus and concentration, and comfort with taking risks. To date, three introductory sessions and four 8-week Mindfulness courses have run across UWTSD campuses since 2018. The student response has been overwhelmingly positive, describing the courses as “a good way to tackle life's problems”, by providing a “variety of tools for every situation” and helping to “relax before assignments, exams and deadlines”.

This is in line with the literature; a study conducted at the University of Cambridge showed that provision of mindfulness training could be an effective component of a student mental health strategy (Galante, et al., 20181).

Mindfulness tutor Heather Fish says: “A sense of community is built up in the groups, as sharing practice tends to deepen it.  The tendency is to notice those things that resource us, rather than deplete us, and make choices to enhance well-being.”

 

1Galante, J. et al., 2018. A mindfulness-based intervention to increase resilience to stress in university students (the Mindful Student Study): a pragmatic randomised controlled trial. The Lancet Public Health.