Mental health and wellbeing

  • 14 February 2020
  • 09:30 - 16:30
  • Apex City of Bath Hotel, Bath
  • 0

Registration is closed

AMOSSHE winter conferenceAMOSSHE Winter Conference: mental health and wellbeing

The AMOSSHE Winter Conference 2020 explores challenges and opportunities around mental health and wellbeing for Student Services leaders in higher education.

With mental health and wellbeing services on everyone's agenda across the sector, and demand for services at an all-time high, Student Services are facing unprecedented challenges and calls for change. This conference is your opportunity to ask: how do we respond to this 'new normal' effectively and proactively? How can we innovate? What are our opportunities for collaboration and influence? How can we think radically and do things differently?

AMOSSHE members can find the event resources here:

Members only

This conference focuses on what Student Services can do going forward to ensure that students with mental health challenges are able to access and experience university life without barriers, and that all students and staff can fulfil their potential and enjoy a fulfilling and empowering experience in higher education. In the context of Student Minds' University Mental Health Charter and Universities UK's #StepChange framework refresh, this conference draws on inspirational practice and innovative thinking to help you explore how to facilitate student success in this changing world.

Location and prices

This conference takes place at the Apex City of Bath Hotel, James Street West, Bath BA1 2DA.

AMOSSHE is currently working on discounted accommodation rates for delegates staying at the conference venue. Watch this space for more information coming soon.

Here are the delegate prices (which include lunch):

  • AMOSSHE named member - £199 (log in to access this rate)
  • Member colleague (non-member, but an employee of an AMOSSHE member organisation) - £215
  • Non-member (individuals, not-for-profit organisations and higher education providers not associated with AMOSSHE) - £255
  • Corporate non-member - £285

You don’t need to pay VAT for AMOSSHE events. Before booking, please read our booking terms and conditions.

Accommodation discount

If you're staying overnight at the conference venue before or after the event, the Apex City of Bath Hotel is offering discounted rates for AMOSSHE delegates. These rates are for a single person per room per night, with breakfast:

  • Wednesday 12 February: £119
  • Thursday 13 February: £119
  • Friday 14 February: £159
  • Saturday 15 February: £179

To secure your discounted rate, please use this direct booking link.

There are only limited rooms available at these rates, on a first-come first-served basis. The discount is available until the available rooms are sold out.

Travel discount

If you're travelling to Bath by train, GWR is offering discounts of up to 80% for our conference delegates:

  • Book a fixed outbound GWR journey to Bath with a reserved seat on the train, with a fully flexible open return.
  • Discounted fares for travel to the conference are available from most stations on the GWR network.
  • You can book up to nine discounted train tickets per person to attend the AMOSSHE Winter Conference.
  • Discounted rates are subject to availability on the train, but the rate is available on all GWR train services.
  • When travelling, make sure you have your AMOSSHE conference booking confirmation to verify your discount.

Find out more and book your discounted travel here: GWR Conferences and Events.

Pre-conference programme

Delegates are welcome to join us for a complimentary drinks reception and networking sessions the night before the conference, from 18:30 to 21:00 on Thursday 13 February 2020. This is an opportunity to meet your fellow delegates and start discussing hot topics in advance of the main event. Here's the programme for the pre-conference networking:

Time Session
18:30 Drinks and networking.
19:00 The role of sport in mental health
Cathy Gallagher (Chair of the Senior Managers’ Executive Group, BUCS - British Universities & Colleges Sport, and Director of Sport, University of Stirling) discusses the role of sport in enhancing mental health for students and staff.
19:45 Great expectations: what should universities do - and where are the boundaries - in addressing major societal issues?
Universities are under increasing pressure to respond to (and arguably solve) major societal issues such as mental ill health, gender-based violence and inequality. While there's no doubt that universities have a responsibility and a unique opportunity to help address these issues, the expectations of students, parents, funders, the media and lobby groups are continually increasing. This networking discussion led by Jill Stevenson (AMOSSHE Executive Member and Head of Student Support Services and Dean for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion at University of Stirling) is an opportunity to explore these issues and talk freely with other Student Services leaders about the challenges posed by these growing and changing expectations. What should universities legitimately be expected to do, and what should be the limits and boundaries of our involvement? How can we make the greatest impact? How should we, as a Student Services movement, approach this complex issue? How could / should we respond to increasing media pressure? And how can AMOSSHE help?
Mental health vs wellbeing: what’s the difference?
This networking discussion led by Rotimi Akinsete (AMOSSHE Executive Member and Associate Dean of Students, Wellbeing & Inclusion at University of the Arts, London) is an opportunity to explore the difference between student wellbeing and student mental health, and how Student Services leaders might (re)name our support-related services.
20:15 Drinks and networking.
21:00 Finish.

Main conference programme

Registration opens at 08:30 on Friday 14 February 2020, and the first session starts at 09:30. The conference finishes at 16:30. Here's the programme for the main conference:

Time Session
08:30 Registration and refreshments.
09:30 Welcome and context
Introduction to the conference by Jill Stevenson (AMOSSHE Executive Member, AMOSSHE and Head of Student Support Services and Dean for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, University of Stirling) and Simon Lee (Executive Member, AMOSSHE and Deputy Director Resilience, Sport and Wellbeing, Teesside University).
09:40 Student and staff mental health: a ‘perfect’ storm
Dr Dominique Thompson is an award winning GP, young people's mental health expert, TEDx speaker, author and educator, with over 20 years of clinical experience caring for students. She was most recently Director of Service at the University of Bristol Students' Health Service. She was named Bristol Healthcare Professional of the Year in 2017. She is author of The Student Wellbeing Series (Trigger Press) and co-author of How to Grow a Grown Up (Penguin Random House). She is a co-author of Student Mental Health & Wellbeing in Higher Education: A Practical Guide (Sage). Dominique is a Clinical Advisor for NICE, the Royal College of GPs, the Anorexia Bulimia Care charity, and for Student Minds, the UK's student mental health charity. In a thought provoking, engaging and strategic-level keynote Dominique sets out the current context of student and staff mental health in UK higher education, what is happening, why it might be happening, and what we can all do to try to improve things.
10:15 What does the University Mental Health Charter mean for Student Services?
This practical workshop explores the implications of the University Mental Health Charter for Student Services leaders. The charter, developed by mental health charity Student Minds in consultation with the sector, is a tool for higher education providers to assess and articulate their student mental health provision. Rosie Tressler (Chief Executive Officer, Student Minds) and Gareth Hughes (Psychotherapist and Research Lead for Student Wellbeing, University of Derby) give an overview of the charter and then lead practical exercises to help you assess its impact on your work.
11:15 Refreshments, networking and exhibition time.
11:50 Taking a whole-university approach to student and staff mental health
Amy Dicks (Policy Researcher, Universities UK) introduces Mentally Healthy Universities, the revised #StepChange framework, which will be published in March 2020. The framework aims to support higher education providers to embed mental health as a strategic priority across all aspects of university life, for both students and staff.
Working together for better student wellbeing
The New Realists report, published in September 2019 by Unite Students and HEPI (Higher Education Policy Institute) showed that while 17% of first year students consider themselves to have a specific mental health condition, only about half of them have disclosed it to their university. Moreover, 26% of all students were often or always lonely towards the end of their first year. Jenny Shaw (Head of Student Services & Insight, Unite Students) explores how university Student Services teams and accommodation providers (both in-house and third party) have a real opportunity to work together to address these issues, following guidelines from the student wellbeing good practice guidelines published by the British Property Federation (BPF) Student Accommodation Committee in June 2019.
Key elements of an effective delivery of mental health and wellbeing support
The dramatically increased number of students with mental health issues presents challenges at strategic, operational and personal levels for professional staff in the sector. In this session Iliyan Stefanov (Head of Student Support and Wellbeing, University of Wolverhampton) provides an insight to an integrated, proactive and effective approach to delivering support to students who need it and - crucially - at the time when they need it, called the Stay-on-Course Programme. The session explores the key elements of student support provision (service user, service provider, organisational structure, and support process with its aims), and discusses the pros and cons of the available approaches in each of these.
12:40 Lunch and networking.
13:40 How should I invest in my mental health services? The value and impact of different approaches
If you had an extra £100,000 a year to dedicate to student mental health in higher education, how would you spend it? This panel discussion seeks to showcase and explore different perspectives about the optimum approach to meeting students’ needs in relation to stress / distress and mental ill health. Compare and reflect on different approaches and the unique value and impact that each offers, including traditional counselling models, models focused more towards specialist mental health support, and alternative or mixed models, alternative counselling approaches, matched care models, and partnership approaches.
Mental health is core business: utilising the resources we have to create a sustainable model of student mental health and wellbeing
Resilience can help individuals to bounce back from failures and recognise and build on areas of weakness. However, there is a danger of pathologising individuals within the ‘snowflake’ stereotype. As learning support professionals we support an approach that helps to empower students for learning and life within a holistic model of student wellbeing, which integrates personal identity within a constructivist paradigm of knowledge gain and skills development. This session, led by Dr Anne Llewellyn (Deputy Director Student and Library Services, Learning Development) and Simon Lee (Deputy Director Resilience, Sport and Wellbeing) from Teesside University introduce Teesside’s journey towards being an institution increasingly at ease with the promotion and discussion of mental health. This includes utilising existing resources available as a university, and partnerships developed across the university and with external agencies, including a successful partnership with a local branch of Mind. This workshop is an opportunity to consider the resources you have across your institution to help promote positive mental health.
International students' mental health and wellbeing: sector research and projects
This session explores a range of projects undertaken by higher education providers across the UK, focusing on the mental health and wellbeing of international students. Julie Allen (Director of Policy and Services, UK Council for International Student Affairs) discusses the outcomes and progress of projects including a mindfulness course for international students, approaches to help Chinese students navigate life in the UK, increasing access for international students to wellbeing services, making counselling and wellbeing services accessible and inclusive, and supporting international doctoral students.
14:30 Refreshments, networking and exhibition time.
15:05 Counselling as a change agent
This session, led by Alan Percy (Head of Counselling, University of Oxford) explores the key components of counselling as a "change agent". Counselling / therapeutic interventions are made in the spirit of understanding and empathy, but the key aim is to effect change in feeling, thought and behaviour. Most students presenting at counselling services don’t have "diagnosable" clinical depression, anxiety disorders or other mental illnesses, but they feel "overwhelmed by life" – which can create depressive or anxiety symptoms as a continuum on the spectrum of mental health problems. Effective short-term counselling can address these problems as well as being highly efficient in developing a range of life skills, such as a greater sense of self-agency, emotional resilience, self and other compassion, and coping skills. This session explores case examples to demonstrate this, as well as evidence that short-term counselling can effect real change. The session also questions whether mental wellbeing initiatives can be really preventative, and whether they increase demand on counselling services rather than reducing them.
A change in direction: integrating care – the Matched Care model
In this session Ruth Unsworth (Deputy Director of Student Services, University of St Andrews) discusses in depth the St Andrews Matched Care model, which addresses rising demand and promotes the autonomy, resilience and independence of students. St Andrews matches a student's individual difficulties with the practitioner best suited to deliver the lightest effective intervention. Student Services was accredited by APPTS (Accreditation Programme for Psychological Therapies Services, developed by the Royal College of Psychiatrists in partnership with the British Psychological Society) in January 2019. The accreditation process involved measuring the service against 56 standards that assess whether a service is safe, well led, effective, caring and responsive to people’s needs, listening to students and staff feedback and submitting to an all-day, on-site peer review. As part of the session you'll learn more about this model of care and how effectively it has worked within the university.
There is no student mental health without staff mental health
UMHAN (University Mental Health Advisers Network) argues that the optimum approach to student mental health is through looking after staff mental health. In a recent survey asking UMHAN members to identify top issues that affected their work and should be focused on as a priority, 78% of respondents identified practitioner and staff wellbeing. Mental health practitioners have varied skills to support students, however, for many, their own personal wellbeing is negatively impacted by working conditions and workloads. Practitioners are in an ideal position to inform “what works” but are finding themselves increasingly unable to manage their own wellbeing. This session, led by Lydia Pell (trustee, UMHAN, and Head of Student Advice and Wellbeing, SOAS University of London) and Alice Wilson (member, UMHAN and CBT Therapist, Birmingham City University) discusses staff supervision and continuing professional development (why this is important and affects risk and safety), the benefits of a multi-disciplinary approach, models of peer support and reflection, and the need for debriefing (how senior management can support staff).
15:35 Time to find your next room.
15:40 Suicide-safer universities: policy, practice and impact
This session, presented by Ross Renton (Pro Vice Chancellor), Caryn Thorogood (Director of Student life) and Hilary Causer (PhD student) from the University of Worcester provides an outline of the university’s innovative Suicide Safer project and explores how this work is now being embedded into university practice. It also features a preview of the research outcomes from ground-breaking PhD research into the impact of student suicide on university staff. The session provides an opportunity to talk to colleagues, and to reflect on your own institutional priorities to address this sensitive aspect of student support.
Working in partnership: innovative approaches to student mental health
The University of Manchester, along with four other Greater Manchester higher education providers (University of Salford, Manchester Metropolitan University, University of Bolton, Royal Northern College of Music) have come together with the local NHS Trust and the Greater Manchester Combined Authority to develop and launch the first joint service for university students with significant mental health difficulties. Working as a single pathway and bridging the “gap” between university services and NHS services, the two year pilot aims to transform the treatment experience of students with significant mental health difficulties and reduce the impact of their difficulties on their time at university. Sarah Littlejohn (Director of Campus Life, the University of Manchester) and Simon Postlethwaite (Operational Manager, the Greater Manchester Universities Student Mental Health Service) will describe the challenges and lessons learnt from the two year process of developing this innovative approach, and also give an early clinical picture of how it’s working and its impact since its launch.
Driving a change in staff mental health and wellbeing: it starts with you
Recent figures show that the level of stress, anxiety and depression for those who work in the higher education sector is 40% higher than the all-industry average. The reality is that unless we care for ourselves and our colleagues, everyone suffers – students, colleagues, families. This practical session, led by Professor Neil Budworth (Chair, USHA - Universities Safety and Health Association and Head of Health and Safety at Loughborough University) is an opportunity to consider the mental health and wellbeing needs and risks of those who surround you.
16:30 Finish. Takeaway refreshments are available in the exhibition area.


The AMOSSHE Winter Conference 2020 is kindly sponsored by these partners:

Intersol Global

Scanningpens (opens in a new window)
Blackbullion (opens in a new window)


Big White Wall (opens in a new window)
 Unite Students
  Uni Well Being (opens in a new window)
Symplicity (opens in a new window)

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