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Showcase: Wellbeing at the Heart of Campus - LUU and UoL

Showcase posts will highlight an activity or programme we've found that we think is worth celebrating and sharing widely.

Today we're focussing on:

Leed's University Union's (LUU) and University of Leeds putting Student Advice, Health and Wellbeing at the heart of their Student's Union (SU) building.

Advice and Welfare Centres at Universities and Student's Unions

Many universities and SUs in the UK host a variety of wellbeing and mental health support and advice services.

Examples of support could be in the form of:

  • Wellbeing/Support Officers - these are often non-academic, non-clinical roles which support students in their welfare and support, including helping students navigate to further support.

  • Counselling Services - your university may offer access to their own counselling, which will often be several appointments on a short-term basis. Following this, you may be advised to access further support or self-care advice. This allows you to access this support independent of the NHS.

  • Advice Centres - often hosted within your SU which offers you support in a range of different student concerns including academic misconduct (for example, plagiarism), housing, finance, appeals.

  • International Office - some universities offer a one-stop location for international students where they can access specific international advice, for example, to VISA and immigration.

  • Mental Health Advice / Advocacy - this specialist service will support you in navigating your mental health care and treatment, including liaising between yourself, the University and the NHS.

  • Pastoral Care - often this is offered through perhaps a Personal Tutor, or you may have a Residential Officer in your university accommodation. These are available to listen and signpost you to support further.

Student Minds has, as part of Student Space, a directory of support services that you can search:

What makes Leed's University Union so special?

The University of Leed's and Leed's University Union have worked together to ensure that the support that they offer cannot be missed or hidden away. In fact, they host a lot of their support right at the SU buildings main foyer!

This makes the face of the SU from the main entrance being student support and welfare, and clearly shows to students that their mental health and wellbeing is at the forefront of their minds.

The main foyer hosts a Help and Support desk, which is hosted by trained student staff. This was deliberate to encourage a diverse and relatable face to this front-facing service. This first port of call can provide some active listening and someone to talk to, and then sign-post for further support.

The main foyer also regularly hosts wellbeing events and stalls to ensure that the area remains dynamic and engaging.

The area also hosts areas for the SU-led Advice Centre, which allows you a quiet space to meet with their advisors privately. Here you can chat to the advisors about issues around your accommodation or worries you might have around finances.

The SU building foyer also hosts a University-run Student Counselling and Wellbeing in partnership with LUU. This offers students to be seen by one of the University's team directly on the same-day.

These short focussed appointments are for those who might be experiencing mental health and wellbeing challenges but are unsure of where to turn to or what to do. A student should leave this appointment with a clear idea of how to move forward. It may be undertaking some self-care exercises, speaking to their GP or reaching out for further support from the University.

But what about COVID-19?

Very true - I've described above what the normal service is like. But what about now while we live through a global outbreak and social distancing.

Well, like many universities and SUs, Leeds have proactively moved their support services online, including counselling appointments, meetings with advisors and wellbeing workshops, for example, have all migrated online.

However, their in-person Help and Support desk remains open in the SU foyer.


Working in Partnership

The project is nation-wide, and we're making a real effort to engage with everyone interested in international student mental health, including universities, mental health services, students unions, sector bodies, charities and organisations such a private student accommodation.

The project is led by the University of Nottingham, in partnership with the University of Nottingham Students' Union, University of Leeds, Leeds University Union, SOAS, SOAS Students' Union, Student Minds and Campuslife Ltd.

Project funded as part of the Office for Students Mental Health Challenge Competition.

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