Two of our Student Wellbeing Advisers, Carolyn and Antonio, give us an insight on what’s been going on behind the scenes in the lead up to term and share information on what support is available for postgraduates.
What’s been going on in the Student Wellbeing Team in the lead up to term?
The Student Wellbeing Service has continued to support all students, including postgraduate students, over the summer period. We’ve been offering telephone and online services to enable students to have a meaningful discussion with an adviser about changes to their wellbeing. Much of our work with students prior to lockdown was face-to-face, so this has been a significant change for us, but one that students seem to have engaged well with.
The team are aware of the difficult situation faced by postgraduate researchers over recent months and the uncertainties this has posed for their work. We also understand that this has implications for their career progression, finances, visas, homes and families. We have been keeping up-to-date with changes in schools and support services such as Student Funding, Study Skills and Library Services, so that we can stay aware of what additional support may be available to postgraduate researchers. We have also been familiarising ourselves with the new COVID-19 guidance for staff and students, including guidance for postgraduate students on issues around safe access to campus.
Updates to resources and programmes
Wellbeing Advisers have been updating guidance on local and University resources that may have changed because of COVID-19. This includes information about NHS services, University services and local Bristol services. We’ve been creating new online resources that students will be able to access in their own time for support with ‘Being Well’ and ‘Living Well’, and we are currently working with Sport, Exercise and Health to refer students to the Healthy Minds Programme again now that sports facilities are available.
Digital wellbeing support
Over the summer, the Student Wellbeing Team have also been preparing for the new year by familiarising ourselves with the world of digital education supported by the Digital Education Office. We’ve been redesigning and moving our Wellbeing Workshops online to make sure we can offer psycho-educational and experiential resources to students, with particular focus on subjects like perfectionism, procrastination, resilience and relaxation. Our website will be updated with the schedule in due course.
What support is available for postgraduate students?
We work through listening and helping to plan and problem-solve with all students. We can offer emotional and practical support (eg how to handle challenging conversations) if students are experiencing difficulties. We would also encourage students to contact us if they are concerned about someone else and we can guide them through the options for supporting or involving other services.
We are aware that for postgraduate researchers, their primary supervisor should be the first point of contact for any issues they are dealing with. However, we are able to support research students with other issues affecting their wellbeing and progress such as stress, anxiety, academic pressure, family concerns, bereavement, isolation, financial problems, relationship issues or simply if they are feeling worried or upset about something.
There are, however, some things that we can’t help with:
- We are not a crisis service. We are also not a 24/7 service. Find out how to get help in an emergency or mental health crisis.
- We do not offer clinical or medical health services. If students need these services, contact our Students’ Health Service.
- We do not offer counselling. If you need think you need this service, Wellbeing Access will connect you to the right support which may include counselling.
How can postgraduates find the support available to them should they need it?
For support with wellbeing/mental health, students can contact the University’s Student Wellbeing Access. We continue to develop the Wellbeing Service and Wellbeing Access in order to support all students in the next academic year. Any student, whether undergraduate or postgraduate, can contact Wellbeing Access via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, on the phone at 0117 4569860, or by using the online form to request support. The student will then be contacted to discuss their referral and may be offered a variety of support options as detailed below.
Based on their needs, this service can set the student up with a Wellbeing Adviser for advice and guidance, signposting, one-to-one support, online workshops and/or refer them to the Student Counselling Service for more clinical therapy.
If students are experiencing a mental health crisis, they can also book a same day appointment with the Student Health Service.
If they are struggling outside of the University’s opening hours, we also provide information on out of hours services. All University students have access to support from Togetherall (previously Big White Wall), Nightline and the SHOUT text crisis service.