Supporting the mental health of staff and students
The School of Civil Engineering has partnered with Leeds Mind and Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England for members of the School to be trained and become Qualified Mental Health First Aiders.
The mental health and wellbeing of students and staff are key priorities to the School of Civil Engineering, which is why 14 members of the School have recently completed their fully accredited training and become Mental Health First Aiders (MHFAiders).
The School partnered with Leeds Mind, an independent charity affiliated with National Mind and the Mind Federation. Leeds Mind was founded in 1972, and has evolved and grown significantly since then. Leeds Mind provides advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health difficulty.
The training was also in partnership with Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England. A social enterprise, which means a company without shareholders. They offer expert guidance and training to support mental health, in the workplace and beyond.
There have been times in my career where I’ve had to support students with poor mental health, and those are the occasions when I felt my work was having the most impact. Training as a MHF Aider has given us a more structured knowledge and set of tools to be there for colleagues and students when things get difficult.
This initiative, driven by Dr Emilio Garcia-Taengua, the Director of Student Education and the School’s Student Education team, has the main focus of enhancing the pastoral care dimension of the education they provide and doing everything they can for the student's academic success, by prioritising their wellbeing.
Dr Emilio Garcia-Taengua, the Director of Student Education, said “There have been times in my career where I’ve had to support students with poor mental health, and those are the occasions when I felt my work was having the most impact. Training as a MHF Aider has given us a more structured knowledge and set of tools to be there for colleagues and students when things get difficult.”
The School comprises undergraduate and postgraduate students, academics, researchers, technical staff, student support and services staff and is proud of working together in partnership. This is why this initiative was open to everyone to be trained, and as a result, the new MHF Aiders in the School include academics, laboratory technicians, undergraduate student representatives and staff from the Language Centre who work closely with the School.
The two new undergraduate student representatives for 2023-2024 are now fully qualified MHF Aiders. This makes the network of Mental Health First Aid support in the School fully inclusive of the students, with whom the School will be working in partnership in this area as they try and do in all aspects of their education and university life.
MHF Aiders are qualified and trained to recognise those who may be experiencing poor mental health and to facilitate early intervention and support in identifying and accessing professional help when needed.
Mental health is a key part of our lives and the consequences of poor mental health cannot be ignored. It is estimated that in the UK every year deaths by suicide are between two and three times as many as deaths in road collisions and that about 25% of us experience poor mental health each year.
The University of Leeds also has a dedicated Support and Wellbeing team, who are there to support students during their time at Leeds, as well as a Health and Wellbeing team, which includes counselling and psychological support, for any member of staff experiencing personal and/or work-related challenges.