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The University of the Third Age discuss their involvement in Grand Challeneges, and the project that some students created around improving mental health amongst older people.

Lead academic: Professor Paul Farrand (Psychology)
Press Release!

Mental Health Challenge academic Professor Paul Farrand featured in Daily Mail as part of #headstogether campaign!

Past projects

Past students discuss their project of bringing awareness of Mental Health to school students 

UN Sustainable Development Goal
UN Sustainable Development Goal
UN Sustainable Development Goal
Tim Francis, Mental Health Commissioning Manager

Tim Francis (Mental Health Commissioning Manager) shares his views on the work that students on the Mental Health Challenge produced as part of Grand Challenges 2017

Mark Blackmore - Time to Change

Mark Blackmore (Time to Change) shares his views on the work that students on the Mental Health Challenge produced as part of Grand Challenges 2017

Mental Health: Enhancing student wellbeing

COVID-19 update

Due to COVID-19, Grand Challenges will not be able to go ahead in its usual face to face format. Instead, we have launched an online programme similar to Grand Challenges called Challenges Online, running 22nd-26th June 2020. Please go to the Challenges Online website for more information and to sign up.

Grand Challenges will return in its usual format in 2021. 

Challenge overview

The prevalence of mental health difficulties in the community is increasing in the UK and in many countries across the world. This increase is also being mirrored by many specific groups, including University students. This Challenge offers real promise to make an applied impact: giving you the opportunity to come up with ideas and projects that have potential to be implemented within the University. Professor Paul Farrand, who is leading this Challenge, has recently been appointed the Academic Lead for Student Wellbeing and is looking for your help in enhancing wellbeing provision so students get the very best ‘evidence-based’ support. By involving you in this process, we hope the University of Exeter can reach its ambition to become the sector leader.

To help inform your understanding and current thinking you will interact with external experts or people with responsibility for student mental health from Universities UK, Department of Health and interested student-led organisations. A Question Time format on Day 1 will enable you to engage with experts and members of our own Student Wellbeing Service to follow your own interests.

So, if you wish to have your voice heard as a student, have lived-experience or just have an interest in this area please sign up for the Mental Health Grand Challenge on Enhancing Student Wellbeing.

2019 summary

Students had the opportunity to network with a range of external stakeholders and share their perspectives. They were also exposed to the work of clinical researchers and training academics within the Clinical Education, Development and Research (CEDAR) group within Psychology. Members of CEDAR have national roles within the NHS England Improving Access to Psychological Therapies programme

We also welcomed an exciting range of speakers related to each of the enquiry groups. These were Jon White, MSc Applied Psychology (Clinical) student, veteran of the Armed Forces and motivational speaker; the local branch of the University of the Third Age; and the University’s own multi-faith Chaplaincy Team. These speakers provided testimonies from people from ‘hard to reach groups’ who have lived experience of mental health difficulties.

Students worked in interdisciplinary diverse groups within their chosen theme. Having taken inspiration from the speakers, the students spent the week carrying out their own project looking at what could be done to reduce the mental health treatment gap. All students produced outputs as part of their project, which included campaigns, posters, educational programmes, and videos. 

On the Friday morning, students presented their projects to all other students on the Challenge and an expert panel. which included the NHS South West Mental Health lead, and the Head of Devon Partenership NHS Trust. In the afternoon, the students showcased their work at an exhibition in the Forum, which was attended by students from all Challenges, University staff and members of the general public.

Enquiry groups

In the spirit of collaborative working and to ensure Wellbeing developments address the areas you think are of importance, there will not be a set list of enquiry groups. Instead, there will be a consultation process before Grand Challenges, where you can let us know which areas are most important to you as University students, from a long-list of areas identified by the Wellbeing Service. Once selected these will form several enquiry groups that will run during Grand Challenges, with the opportunity to include an enquiry group ‘of your choice’ where enough interest exists in an area that did not make the long-list.

When you sign up to the Challenge, you will be able to identify the things that you are most interested in working on.

Student projects

This is the first year that the Challenge has focused solely on student wellbeing. Some student projects are shown below, from previous years where the Challenge was more broad in focus.

Square One: A campaign that breaks down the barriers preventing students from getting involved in the plethora of organised physical activities on campus. Raising awareness of the benefits of physical activity beyond physical health, signposting students to sports activities taking place on campus, and organising additional beginner activities.

Exe-Cise: Highlighting different areas where exercise can be done around Exeter. Each location and video suggested gives examples of certain activities that get progressively harder in different locations.

WOW (Working out Wellbeing): Working with clubs/societies to develop a mental health support system and ensuring all clubs have a beginner programme for social inclusion. Will provide training for a rep in each society.

Words with Wanderers: A shared reading group between students and the homeless, to support the homeless in their mental health and emotional well-being.

The Fresh List: A reading list for Freshers to ease the transition into university

Raising awareness of local services specifically for LGBT+ community

Promoting wellbeing services that are available to rough sleepers

MENtal Health Heroes: Providing wellbeing support for young male students (years 9-11) through a mentoring scheme run in monthly PSHE sessions.

Online Wellbeing Hub: A new section of iExeter for wellbeing information to further raise awareness of services to students

Wider advertising of student wellbeing services through changes to the iExeter app, a promotional poster and an introductory lecture for new students

S.W.A.E: "Our team, S.W.A.E, Stay Well At Exeter, is working to improve the Wellbeing and mental health services for international students at The University of Exeter. We recognise that overcoming the language barrier and cultural differences between international and home students is a grand challenge, and we- as students can make a difference, so that all students can stay well at Exeter- locally and internationally."

Bridging the Gap: Connecting students more with wellbeing services, by using student wellbeing representatives to raise awareness of what support is available on campus.

Brace: A website signposting support for foster care parents

Kenny the Chameleon: An app designed to teach children and young teenagers about emotions, and encourage them to open up