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Loughborough supports WHO’s World Mental Health Day

30 September 2021

6 mins

Did you know 10th October, is World Mental Health Day?  Loughborough University London joins the World Health Organization and its stakeholders in raising awareness of mental health and to mobilise efforts in support around the world. This year, our objective is to raise awareness of staff mental health within Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) dialogue in day to day life and in the workplace. Check out what we have done to support it below.

We all have times when we feel down, stressed, anxious or frightened, have ups and downs at work, homelife or both. Many of us may ask the question, what is mental health? Do I have a mental health problem? Do I need to seek help? How can I seek help? Why is there such a stigma or fear of disclosing, and talking about mental health? Will family, friends, and colleagues at work understand and support me? Is poor mental health a disability, a disorder, a health condition, a problem, part of wellbeing or neurodiversity?

We cannot answer all of these questions in one go. However, as members of the Loughborough University London Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Committee, we believe all our staff and students deserve to feel that mental health is not a problem or face stigma, but that it is part of  life and whatever their experience, they will be supported. We recognise that currently that may not always feel the case, and that more can be done. We aim to mobilise our efforts not just to increase awareness, understanding and support for mental health, but to listen to staff and student needs, and believe that as a School we can achieve that together.

About mental health

MIND (2021) states that ‘Good mental health means being generally able to think, feel and react in the ways that you need and want to live your life’. During a period of poor mental health, thoughts, feelings, and reacting to situations around you can feel more difficult, or even impossible to live with. Types of poor mental health can range from commonly known conditions such as depression and anxiety to rarer health conditions such as bipolar disorder and eating disorders.

The Mental Health Foundation reports nearly half of adults believe that they have had a diagnosable mental health condition, yet only one-third receive a diagnosis. Forty percent are uncomfortable having a conversation with someone about their mental health; 56% of people worry they might embarrass the other person and 58% feel they might offend them. Different groups, communities and cultures have different experiences which may impact on their identity, experience of mental health and type of support they may seek. There is a higher prevalence in reported poor mental health amongst BAME, LGBT+, carers, women and people with physical disabilities. The Mental health Foundation also found that a wide range of experience during  the COVID pandemic, related to being a key worker, bereavement, loneliness, caring for others, working from home and returning to work  continues to have a significantly negative impact on mental health.

Within the workplace, MIND research showed that more than one in five people experiencing stress had called in sick to avoid work; 14% had resigned; 42% had thought about resigning; and 30% of staff disagreed with the statement ‘I would feel able to talk openly with my line manager if I was feeling stressed’. Increasingly a healthy work-life balance is recognised as being essential to reduce poor mental health. A Mental Health Foundation Survey found that more than 40% of employees are neglecting other aspects of their life because of work which may increase vulnerability to mental health issues. When working long hours more than a quarter feel depressed, one-third anxious and over half more irritable. Nearly two-thirds of employees reported a negative impact on their personal life, including personal development, physical and mental health, poor relationships and homelife. Concerns about returning to work after lockdown are also high.

Raising awareness

Across the London campus, we have been increasing awareness of resources and support for mental health available across the University and in the community. We have MIND information leaflets, shared information on resources and training across the University, and let’s not forget our University Mental Health Day celebrations! More recently HR have revised the mandatory Welcome to Loughborough Induction to include mental health awareness.

Supporting your mental health

Going forward, the Loughborough London EDI Committee is committed to the development of an open, equal and inclusive environment for mental health. We want to create an environment where all staff and students feel that it is okay to talk about mental health, seek information or seek support for themselves or to help someone else if they choose to do so, and we are committed to helping staff and students access such resources.

In parallel to increasing awareness, educating and challenging stigma, the EDI Committee will soon be arranging a wide variety of activities to meet the needs of students and staff, such as drop-in forums, a way to e-mail your ideas for activities, resources to access mental health information, and more. Our aim is to find ways in which people can talk about mental health confidentially if they choose to do so. We know finding the time, let alone the energy, can be tough, especially if you are working from home, so all of your input is more than welcome! 

Dr Andrea Geurin, the Chair of the London campus EDI Committee said, “Over the coming academic year the EDI Committee will be dedicated to gathering more information about the mental health needs of our staff and students so that we can design new initiatives to best meet the needs of our community.”

We would like to say a big thank you to Debbie Eagle for writing this Blog.

We would also like to highlight the wide range of resources and initiatives that Loughborough University London provides to support your mental health:

  • A free webinar, Creating a Healthy Work-life Balance will be held on Wednesday 13th October. Places can be booked by e-mailing Chris BurtoWen in Health and Safety. A recording of the webinar will be available after the event on request to Chris Burton. 
  • Staff Wellbeing provides a wide range of internal and external support, for a positive physical, social and mental state. Resources include: support for working from home, Counselling Service, EAP, TogetherAll, mobile App and Support Groups.
  • Staff Inclusivity Group is a supportive network for those who have or affected by physical or invisible disabilities. They are currently involved in the shaping of the EDI agenda for the future of disability inclusivity across both campuses.
  • Mental health awareness and support is provided as Staff Training for all Staff and Line Managers.
  • The Wellbeing Framework  to provide a supportive, inclusive workplace can help to prevent physical and mental health problems and support people struggling with their health to stay at work and thrive is also in place. Information on disability and dynamic working support can be found here.

If you want to discuss any of the information provided in more detail, please contact Debbie Eagle (EDI – Mental Health), Jennie Wong (EDI- Disability), Miranda Bioh (EDI – London HR).

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