One of the less discussed impacts of the rise of mental health issues amongst students and graduates is the impact this is starting to have on our staff teams in SUs. In particular we have identified resilience in the face of setbacks as a key concerns for us across our staff and the need to develop capacity at middle management level that can either assist with preventing bouts of sickness or can improve “bounce back ability” through effective interventions, stress risk assessment etc.
Here’s a summary of responses from SUs around the country:
I think the mental health issues are most pertinent when evident in officer teams and/or student leaders – as these are often the people our staff work most closely with.
We are looking to enhance and increase our leadership training for staff, to help them be more resilient and able to bounce back and hopefully this will also help them support students and other staff with mental health issues.
We introduced a Coaching system for our managers where they have a one hour session each month with a qualified, professional coach. This also means any issues that are impacting more than one of them can be picked up. I would say this has helped build their resilience this year.
We’re looking at our health disclosure forms, to see how we can encourage early disclosures of poor mental health to make sure we support staff from day one, and have various other actions lined up to encourage good mental health (eg. we had a staff wellbeing fair with the University).
We have done the following: Sessions from the local Mind about mental health first aid, and building resilience and University staff courses on mental health topics.
This has probably been the most difficult issue we have faced and we should talk more as a movement as I don’t think there are many coherent solutions.
We’ve been rolling out a Mental Health First Aid course – initially to the Sports Development Co-ordinators as part of an initiative the Sports Officer two years ago started, it’s been so good we’re rolling it out to Societies Co-ordinators and it will go wider. Schools (as in secondary education schools) do a really strong mental health first aid course which I’m investigating this summer.
We’ve signed up to be a Mindful Employer, which comes with various resources and training (as well as showing our front line staff we’re open to talking about Mental Health). http://www.mindfulemployer.net/
We’ve sent most of our line-managers and senior managers on this two day course: https://mhfaengland.org/adult-mhfa/ This was very intense course, and more aimed at identifying the signs of poor mental health early and how to talk to people about it. They sell it as every organisation has physical first aiders, but nowhere has mental health first aiders.
We’re looking at a Train a Trainers course on resilience- we want a solution we could flex up and down for career and student staff, and a solution that works for advice volunteers and for our security staff.