Student Services: Wellbeing, Mental Health and other specialist support
Which areas of good practice benefit all students?
DoS/Personal Tutor guidance – new staff need guidance and support in role as well as increased interaction with these students.
Notes in advance.
Providing lecture content in a range of different formats (e.g. notes in advance, recordings).
Commitment to using Re:View.
Regular 1:1 sessions with Personal Tutor to discuss concerns/progression.
How can you support refugees and asylum seekers?
Highlighting additional support from Academic Skills, including English language provision.
Explaining learning and assessment processes clearly as they adapt to a new education system.
How can you support care leavers and estranged students?
Awareness when teaching that traditional family unit is not applicable to all, and adjust language/examples used in lecture content (e.g. “parents or supporters”).
How can you support young adult carers or those with caring responsibilities?
Making adjustments to their timetable.
Consideration for group work adjustments as may have limited availability.
Having a variety of options for student engagement (e.g. 1:1s and/or group tutorial options with personal tutor, options for group work, variety of assessment methods).
Need to ensure that teaching materials are available for all sessions on VLE (i.e. notes, recordings of lectures) in case that student misses sessions and are otherwise unable to access materials for revision/catch-up.
Spacing of assessments throughout the semester rather than grouped together at the end when students may also have complex caring responsibilities (where they might need to re-take all assessments as opposed to one).
QUICK WINS: Making recorded lectures available online
Recording lectures and making them available online for those unable to attend is an effective means to help meet the needs of students with caring and/or parenting responsibilities. It is also beneficial for many disabled students, and for all students in general.
The most common recommendations included in Disability Action Plans that could be built in for all students, not just those who are disabled, are:
Provision of lecture notes/slides in advance.
Provision of lecture content in a range of different formats, such as providing notes beforehand, or recordings of lectures afterwards etc.
Find out more from UCAS here: UCAS guidance on supporting student needs
Wellbeing, Counselling, and Mental Health
Identify opportunities within the curriculum for students to engage with ideas around wellbeing within their disciplinary context, i.e. ethical implications of AI, wellbeing impact of building design. Making wellbeing part of, not simply an adjunct to, the learning and teaching experience, can help to open up dialogues around this theme for students and make it relatable to students’ own contexts. Opportunities such as this can be even more beneficial in the long-term than standalone sessions on wellbeing as part of the course.
Consider that transition into a new learning and teaching environment is very challenging, especially for some groups who may be more susceptible to mental health difficulties. Students may need time to develop confidence and capability; consider this in Year 1 design in particular-where, when and how will you introduce new ideas, content, skills and concepts?
Think about ways of changing our narrative around failure-can you encourage students to see value in failure as part of the learning experience and where can you give students spaces to explore what failure might mean and how they respond to it as part of learning? This in part will come from clear and transparent narratives about the role and function of types and timing of assessments; try to be clear with students why, when and how you will be assessing them.
Where practicable, encourage the development of listening skills (especially reflective listening) within your teaching and learning-there will be a positive impact on wellbeing where students are able to listen to others and respect the position and experience of others around them.
It’s important to consider a range of vehicles for assessment where possible, and consider where these are positioned in the year. If all the assessments are located at one point in the year, this, for some at least, could lead to a very intense period which some will manage, others will not. It is important that students learn to manage pressure, but if the weighting of the course is all at one time, it could likely to lead to some students buckling. Spreading this reduces the intensity, and exploring other forms of assessment as part of a suite of assessment measures will also help avoid the proverbial ‘eggs in the one basket’!
Designing group work:
- consider that performance anxiety and imposter syndrome can be a significant factor in how students might be able to engage.
- reflect on the fact that students’ levels of confidence, capability and preparedness for engaging in group work will vary hugely depending on their experience of this type of work pre-entry.
- ensure that group work projects or activities are well prepared, structured and contextualised, i.e. that where possible you introduce some of the skills and types of activity related to group work gradually, rather than only at the start of that unit/at the start of the group work itself. This will allow students to explore the dynamic of group work and build a stronger sense of confidence and capability in this context.
Further advice and guidance
If you have concerns about a student’s welfare, call the Student Services staff advice line on 01225 384321 (see our full guidance on supporting students in distress: https://www.bath.ac.uk/guides/supporting-students-in-distress/).
There is a wealth of further information and guidance on supporting students in our Student Services advice for staff: https://www.bath.ac.uk/collections/student-services-advice-for-staff/