Over my working life, I have seen a very positive shift in society’s attitudes to mental health and wellbeing and a greater recognition of the importance of mental health. In an inclusive and supportive community like Royal Holloway, being able to provide the services our students and staff need around their mental health matters to us.
Our Student Advisory and Wellbeing team assists students with all kinds of issues every year, for example, in 2017/18 more than 2,000 engaged with Student Wellbeing and almost 1,000 students used Student Counselling. We have wellbeing events and work with the Students’ Union to focus on student mental health and wellbeing.
We also support our colleagues’ wellbeing and, over the last 12 months, a number of programmes have been developed to raise awareness with colleagues about the importance of their health and wellbeing. These include walking challenges, a carers event and lunchtime wellbeing activities such as Mindfulness Mondays, on-site complementary therapist sessions and yoga. We also have the Employee Assistance Programme
which is free to access.
The next step for our colleagues is the introduction of more formal line manager training and access to more individual support. I feel strongly that good mental health relies on us both being able to access help, but also that as managers we’re asking the questions that might encourage a colleague to seek support, and then know where to turn to. Plans include the introduction of Mental Health First Aid Training, Awareness Sessions for managers and the establishment of a Mental Health Network that is open to all colleagues.
Tomorrow (Wednesday 10 October), on World Mental Health Day, Dr David Ashton our Chief Operating Officer will sign the Time to Change Employer Pledge
on behalf of Royal Holloway. Signing the Pledge and committing to an action plan confirms our commitment to acting and thinking about mental health in ways that I hope will make a positive difference for all of our community.
Professor Paul Layzell