Whether between friends and family or within leading businesses and industries, taking care of mental health and wellbeing is a top priority. And it’s no different at Arts University Bournemouth – we take supporting our students’ mental health very seriously.
Celia Johnson, Student Support Manager at Student Services, explains there are several factions of mental health support for students here at AUB. Namely, the Wellbeing team, the Counselling team, Disability and Mentoring Support.
“Wellbeing support is for anyone who's struggling with their mental health, or their day-to-day functioning,” Celia says. “Students might think, ‘Where do I go for support?' Wellbeing is the front door to finding out what mental health support they might need.
“A student can walk into a wellbeing drop-in that we run daily (Monday-Friday) in Student Services on campus, no appointment needed. One of the wellbeing team will spend 20-30 minutes with a student, to really find out the headlines of what they might be struggling with most, and then they’ll discuss what support is available at AUB, or whether there's a specialist support service outside of university that they may benefit from accessing. We have great links with local mental health professionals in Bournemouth and the local area.
“Counselling services focus on the students’ thoughts and feelings, working through their issues with the support of a therapeutic process. Students can book an appointment online via their MyAUB bookings page, and the sessions are offered on a one-at-a-time basis, in person or online. In other words, a student can try a counselling session, then they can book in to see that counsellor again or they can book in with a different counsellor for next time."
Celia also explains that the Disability services follow a similar booking system, offering support for students who either have a mental health condition, or physical health, or a learning need. They can book online or face-to-face sessions with the Senior Disability Advisor.
What is University Retreat?
On 9 March, we celebrate the official opening of the new University Retreat; the first of its kind to be opened by a university in the UK (as far as we know), which’ll be situated on the BU campus, a stone’s throw away from our AUB campus.
Celia reveals, “The three Universities (BU, AUB and AECC) sit on the Pan-Dorset Multi Agency Suicide Prevention Strategy Steering Group, which includes representatives from health services and other key partners in the local area. As part of this steering group, collaboration with NHS partners resulted in the development a University Retreat designed specifically for students, adopting the existing NHS Dorset-wide approach for individuals to ‘access mental health care’.
“University Retreat is a safe space for adults to just turn up if they’re having a crisis with their mental health or approaching a crisis. And the beauty about these spaces is that they’re run by people with their own lived experiences and staffed with trained mental health professionals. It’s a nice mix, as sometimes people don’t want to talk to a professional; they want to talk to someone who gets what’s going on.”
How is AUB supporting students and staff during the cost-of-living crisis?
The cost-of-living crisis is an ongoing cause for concern and is affecting people from all walks of life – including students. So, what’s being done to provide support for this?
“AUB has set up a Cost of Living working group that various members of university staff are part of,” explains Celia. “Here, they discuss, devise, and implement initiatives to support student and staff during this crisis.
“The university is registered with BCP Council to provide food banks on campus and at AUB Halls of Residence. Halls will have a food store for students living there, and we also have a Sharing Shed, for students and staff to access non-perishable provisions. The Sharing Shed is one of the initiatives to come out of that working group.
“The university has also registered, through the working group, as a referral agency for the Bournemouth food bank. It means that AUB can register individuals for food bank vouchers, alongside additional support. AUBSU has also put free period products in toilets, addressing period poverty.”
Celia also referred to a Hardship Fund that students can access, as well as the recently refurbished faith and reflection centre, which, among other things offers 'Souper Mondays' for students to come together for soup and bread.