Reflections on our mental health and wellbeing conference

11 March 2020 10:49 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

In February 2020 AMOSSHE hosted a conference in Bath to explore aspects of mental health and wellbeing for Student Services leaders in higher education. Looking back on the event, conference lead and AMOSSHE Executive Member Jill Stevenson (Dean of Equality, Diversity & Inclusion and Director of Student Services, University of Stirling) reflects on what we all learned.

Big picture issues

It was a real privilege to co-chair the AMOSSHE Winter Conference with my Executive colleague, Simon Lee. This year’s theme was "mental health and wellbeing" which, as we all know, is probably the number one issue of concern for our students, their parents and supporters, and our staff who support them with such professionalism and dedication.

Winter Conference leads

We really wanted to focus on some of the “big picture” issues, notably:

  • What’s going on with student mental health and wellbeing, and why might that be?
  • How can we take a whole-institution approach to delivering a student experience that respects, protects, promotes and enhances mental health and wellbeing?
  • How can we better support our staff to stay well and deliver the best possible services to our students?
  • What is the responsibility of a university in terms of protecting and enhancing student mental health and wellbeing? Where can we best add value? And where does our responsibility stop and that of our partners start?

We had some fantastic, wide ranging conversations about all these topics and more, and we were thrilled to have a range of brilliant speakers to spark debate and widen all our perspectives.

Inspiring insights

All of our speakers were excellent, but I was particularly moved by Dominique Thompson’s opening keynote, which explored some of the reasons why students are presenting more and more often with conditions such as anxiety and depression. Her observations on fear of failure, perfectionism and competitiveness were really compelling.

It was also great to make more of our pre-conference evening session and to provide more opportunities for structured and informal networking. Cathy Gallagher’s opening address that evening struck some powerful chords around the role of sport and physical activity in enhancing wellbeing, and the opportunities that we can explore to forge stronger partnerships between sport and student services.

All in all, I came away feeling inspired and optimistic about the future in Student Services, and full of ideas about how AMOSSHE and our members can incorporate new learning into our new strategy and operational plan.

Thank you to everyone who attended - we hope you found the conference as useful and thought-provoking as we did!

AMOSSHE Winter Conference

AMOSSHE members can find all the resources from the conference here: Mental health and wellbeing.

Watch these interviews from the conference on Twitter:

AMOSSHE, The Student Services Organisation is a UK non-profit professional association. Company registration number 4778650.
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