Staff Mental Health and Wellbeing

The development of the Staff Wellbeing Strategy and action plan is being taken forward through the Mental Health and Wellbeing group. The group is focused on implementation activities guided by the Stevenson/Farmer review’s Thriving at Work report  and the Mind implementation guide

New Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) provider – Pro-Counselling. 

In November 2019 we began working with Pro-Counselling, who offer 24/7 telephone counselling via an online portal, an online wellbeing space and face-to-face counselling. The wellbeing space has a comprehensive collection of self-help resources which are updated regularly. The telephone counselling is particularly good as it is immediate and allows people to have a series of sessions with the same counsellor.  

An ongoing pilot is evaluating whether mindfulness groups can be effective at reducing stress and enhancing wellbeing in staff. 2 courses ran in October 2019 and a further two groups are running this term. Groups follow either the mindfulness based cognitive therapy for life, or the mindfulness based stress reduction curriculum. Colleagues came to these groups via responding to an advert in the Staff Bulletin or via Occupational Health referral, with 50 members of staff having or about to take part. The pilot scheme will be fully evaluated to decide whether it should be rolled out further.

We have recently trained 16 Mental Health First Aiders, accredited by Mental Health First Aid England. They are trained to be able to recognise mental ill health and help colleagues and students find the support they need to stay well. 456 colleagues have completed a 1 or 2 day mental health first aid course over the last three years. 

There have been improvements to information about Health and Wellbeing Services given to new colleagues as part of the on-line induction programme.  This includes support available from Occupational Health and our new Employee Assistance Programme provider – Pro-Counselling, as well as signposting other wellbeing services

Since April 2019 colleagues have had free access to SilverCloud – on-line CBT development tool that was previously available to students.  Around 72 colleagues are using the service, which offers secure, immediate access to online Cognitive Behavioural Therapy programmes, tailored to your specific needs. The programme has shown high improvement rates for depression, anxiety and stress and also has a programme on body image. Feedback is positive, with colleagues saying that the modules are helpful and helping them make progress. 

The HR Policy team are working on bringing in guidance to support staff and managers through issues regarding domestic abuse, as part of the PWE actions on staff health and wellbeing. We are working with Hestia on the project Everyone’s Business. This is supported by the Home Office. We offered training for Stakeholders, Managers and Champions on the Streatham Campus in winter 2019, attended by 50 people. We are continuing to work on running a course in Penryn in the future.

One participant said “Very proud that the University has invested in training for managers to recognise and provide support for those enduring domestic violence. Thought provoking training today.”

College Operations leaders took part in a training on ‘having conversations about mental health’. The training looked at the importance of talking about mental health, the business case for wellbeing, case studies, support and how to normalise mental health like physical health.

We have improved staff access to the NHS ‘TALKWORKS’ service. TALKWORKS is the local delivery of the national IAPT (Improving Access to Psychological Therapy) programme, and is based very close to St Luke’s Campus. As Talkworks is Exeter based we’ve been identifying the most similar service in Cornwall to build partnerships with them.

Still to come…

A university-wide wellbeing strategy is under development, led by Professor Tim Quine. This group is advising on the staff element to ensure alignment and re-enforcement rather than competition.  It is important that the staff focus is of equal importance to student wellbeing, although we acknowledge that the student investment is bigger due to numbers and students having less community options than staff.

The Staff mental health and wellbeing group that is taking this forward is made up of:

  • Professor Louise Lawrence, Associate Professor in New Testament Studies  
  • Professor Barney Dunn, Research Clinical Psychologist  (interim Chair)
  • Dr Rachel Fenton, Senior Lecturer, Law  
  • Karen Markes, Occupational Health Manager  
  • Russell Thomas. Equality, Diversity, Inclusion and Wellbeing Managers  
  • Alison Davidson, Director of Sport  
  • Katharine Harris, Senior HR Business Partner  
  • Mark Sawyer, Head of Wellbeing Services   
  • Kim McNicholl, Wellbeing adviser

Christian Carter, Head of Organisational Development, is the lead contact for Positive Working Environment.