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Charlotte Morris Research Officer Centre for Learning and Teaching University of Brighton

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Presentation on theme: "Charlotte Morris Research Officer Centre for Learning and Teaching University of Brighton"— Presentation transcript:

1 Charlotte Morris Research Officer Centre for Learning and Teaching University of Brighton

2 Open Minds Project – overview; Research Findings; Inclusive learning culture; Discussion: Rising to the Challenge; Feedback and questions.

3 February 2008 – 2010, Funded internally through HEFCE funds to support Widening Participation. Aims: to work collaboratively to enhance the learning experiences of students with mental health difficulties ; support the wellbeing of all students.

4 Anti-stigma activities – events; staff development; resources to improve knowledge, understanding and visibility of mental health & stimulate discussion; outreach. Wellbeing promotion to empower students to manage their wellbeing at university and beyond - work with Student Services (curriculum development worker); wellbeing events (Wellbeing Day, Wellbeing Week); evaluation, capturing staff and student voices; Wellbeing Development Group – collaborative reflection, discussion and forward planning. Research - positive teaching practices & student experiences.

5 Legislation DDA 1995, Special Educational Needs & Disability Act 2001 – Educational institutions required to make adjustments for and in anticipation of the needs of disabled students. Disability Discrimination Act 2005 – positive duty on public sector to promote disability equality – promote equality of opportunity, eliminate discrimination, promote positive attitudes and encourage participation. Duty of Care – health and safety of students, duties towards disabled students.

6 Key Research University life -complex stress factors and characteristics which may exacerbate mental health problems (transition, financial pressures, high risk behaviour); vulnerable age. Prevalence of mental health difficulties; Risk of suicide and self-harm; Factors in the learning environment which may have detrimental effect on mental health (implications for student progression, retention & achievement).

7 Recommend whole institution approach; challenge stigma & promote positive attitudes to mental health difficulties and seeking support; preventative approach to student mental health including wellbeing promotion for all; social model of disability.

8 What are effective ways of creating an inclusive, stigma free learning culture? How can we create a mental healthy university which supports the wellbeing of all students? What is the role of academic staff? What teaching practices can help to support student mental health and wellbeing? Survey of academic staff; Student mental health and wellbeing survey; Interviews of students with experience of mental health difficulties (ongoing).

9 Distributed during Wellbeing Week 2009; 202 respondents; 35 % of respondents reported experience of a recognised mental health difficulty; 50% formally disclosed/ received formal support; Non-disclosure; recovered / self-management / currently well; unsure how to access support; dont see as disability; disclosed other disability; external support; experience / expectation of stigma, labelling; emergent, non-disability under DDA – long-term, severity.


11 …uni for most people is the first taste of complete independence and if we are not in a good state of mind the responsibilities we have to ourselves and others are neglected. Being physically and mentally 'healthy' for example being able to cope with the levels of university work whilst also balancing some leisure time, exercise and healthy diet and maintaining relationships with friends and family outside of university. University can be incredibly stressful and affect wellbeing. Also, wellbeing is vital in attaining good results, attendance and high level of work that is needed at university


13 Factors related to academic work 60%; Poor work-life balance 10% ; Finances 9%; Administrative issues 6% (poor general information, poor communication, rooming issues, finance issues); Social & academic transition - Adjusting to independent living; social integration -problems with peers; academic transition; peer pressure; environment; accommodation; personal life; worries about the future.

14 Deadlines are always stressful but particularly so when you have lots around the same time making it difficult to prioritise time. An excess of work, the feeling of an inability to cope with all the pressures from all sides, means that I will put off or not be able to concentrate on work. The disorganised and uncertain structure of my course, feeling like I'm just a number not a hard working, conscientious individual.

15 Clear expectations, learning objectives; Clear, accessible course information (available online); Staggered deadlines; Approachable / available academic staff; Study skills development (especially groupwork, presentations, essay writing, coping with exams); Regular, clear feedback; More opportunities for peer interaction.

16 Good teaching practices; Mainstream; Benefit diverse body of students; Choice and flexibility built in to course design; Potential to minimize stress & maximise success.

17 Encourage social integration - more social opportunities (especially non-alcohol related) –encouraged as part of learning; More awareness of available support; Awareness of mental health issues; Less stigma; Environment / culture conducive to wellbeing.

18 Distributed online to all staff; 46 responses; Capture quantitative & qualitative data on (a) experiences, perceptions, positive practices in relation to student mental health & wellbeing (b) Staff concerns /development needs (c) What the university can do to enhance learning experiences of students with mental health difficulties / student mental health & wellbeing

19 Use of formative assessment to build confidence; Staff availability (e.g. surgery hours); Varied teaching methods (allowing for different learning styles); Feedback: Prompt detailed feedback; praise sandwich; Programme information and Course materials available online; More small group work.

20 Assessments that can adapt to different needs; Ground rules are very useful; Additional materials are critical as these will help to improve students confidence; Regular feedback from students and listening to what students say.

21 Learning Environment: Eliminating extraneous sounds can help concentration. Learning environments need to be made very safe for students to share experiences if appropriate. Good communication with Student Services. Highlighting available support to students. One-to-one support & positive interactions. People respond well to feeling as though somebody is taking a personal interest in their wellbeing.

22 Wellbeing is vital to optimise learning and academic performance; Wellbeing strategies as an essential part of personal, professional development; Inclusive teaching practices potentially contribute to student wellbeing; Learning development – organisational skills - can contribute to student wellbeing (alongside wellbeing strategies); Academic staff have a vital role to play in supporting student mental health and wellbeing (teaching practices, positive interactions, support, information); Wellbeing friendly environment characterised by good communication, accessible information, mental health awareness and positive interactions.

23 Fosters a strong sense of community; Values and celebrates diversity; Empowers students with strategies to manage their wellbeing / studies; Sense of responsibility for welfare and wellbeing of all members; Ensures support systems highly visible and accessible; Normalises discussion about mental health in variety of forums.

24 Ongoing regular staff development; Resources – in variety of formats; Developing, embedding inclusive practices; Curriculum Development; Learning Development – guidance for staff and students; Peer mentoring; Health promoting university ; Mental health & wellbeing promotion; Conceptual / theory development around Wellbeing and relation to learning.

25 Individual Departmental Institutional Any questions?

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