Teaching & Learning


Student Support and Wellbeing enhances service to better support students

24 July 2018

UCL health provision strengthened with expanded team, daily drop-in sessions, training for staff and new app under development

Student support and wellbeing

UCL Student Support and Wellbeing (SSW) provide a wide range of information, advice and support services to help students maintain positive wellbeing. With student mental health an increasing priority for the entire HE sector, the department is growing and has made a number of enhancements over the past year.

SSW now has more Mental Health Coordinators with solid experience of mental health provision, including within the public health sector.

This expanded resource has helped boost the capacity of the department’s daily drop-in sessions. These allow students to speak to an adviser about wellbeing or health issues affecting their studies, with no need for an appointment. Students are seen on the day, and then offered varying levels of support according to their needs.

The drop-in initiative, launched in September, has seen huge success, with more than 1,800 individual consultations held in the 2017-18 academic year compared to only a few hundred in the previous academic year, when the drop-in was held just 2 days a week.

Drop-in sessions and appointments are due to move to the new Student Centre building on Gordon Street from its opening in early 2019, providing students with easier access to support at the heart of the Bloomsbury campus.

The additional Mental Health Coordinators are joined by other staff in new posts, in areas such as the Disability Support team, Student Psychological and Counselling Services (SSW’s therapeutic support section), the Study Abroad and International Student Support team, and the Communications and Projects team. This overall increase in resource has enabled SSW to provide an even better level of service to even more students.

In one example, Student Psychological and Counselling Services have recently added a pilot of a new therapeutic model known as Brief Solution-Focused Therapy, adapted fromCardiff University’s counselling service, to their existing provision. This provides students with the option of longer appointments if appropriate. It is hoped that it will contribute to ongoing reductions in waiting times, allowing students to see a counsellor earlier if they need therapeutic support.

Staff in SSW have had training on suicide intervention from the National Centre for Suicide Prevention, while other staff across UCL faculties and departments have access to Mental Health First Aid training, some of which is delivered by SSW itself.

SSW have also been encouraging all staff to complete a free online training module from the Charlie Waller Memorial Trust, which seeks to equip non-specialist staff with the skills and knowledge needed to support students experiencing mental health difficulties.

Lina Kamenova, Deputy Director of UCL Student Support and Wellbeing, said: ‘University is about more than just academic study, and UCL recognises that the wellbeing of its student population is of the utmost importance. For students to excel on their programme, they need to maintain a balanced lifestyle and positive physical and mental health. With increasing attention being paid to student health and wellbeing across the sector, we have been expanding and enhancing our service to make sure all our students can maintain positive wellbeing and perform at the best of their ability.’

SSW will be launching a new app this year to help students manage their feelings, thought patterns and emotional responses more effectively, enabling them to thrive in their personal life and excel on their academic programme. Developed by the Positive Group, the PIE app takes students through a 4-month, self-directed programme of learning and self-reflection, providing them with practical tools such as the Emotional Barometer to help them track their mood states on a daily basis. It will be free to students and will be widely shared following the start of term.

Student Support and Wellbeing forms part of Student and Registry Services, under the Vice-Provost (Education and Student Affairs). For any enquiries related to this article or Student Support and Wellbeing services more generally, please contact the department by email.