PGR support and wellbeing
A student's supervisor should be their first port of call if they have any concerns. If they are unable to do this, they should contact their advisor or postgraduate tutor.
For more serious issues or if a student wishes to raise a confidential matter, they should contact the Head of Postgraduate Research Services or the Chair of the Research Degrees Committee who can provide advice, or direct them to the most appropriate person for help or support.
The wellbeing and mental health of our postgraduate researchers (PGRs) is of paramount importance to the University. We are committed to providing an environment in which postgraduate researchers can thrive, enjoy their experience and develop to their full potential.
The University recognises that during their research programme, PGRs will face a wide range of experiences and challenges and this may lead to the need for support and guidance for a variety of non-academic or wellbeing and mental health issues.
The aim of this section of the Code of Practice is to direct PGRs, PGR supervisors and professional services to the wide range of support, from suggestions on how to maintain wellbeing to specialist mental health support, that is available through the University.
Resources for PGRs
New to Postgraduate Research
Starting a postgraduate research programme can be daunting, the online resource aims to lessen concerns and give postgraduate researchers ideas on where to go for help and support.
Six Ways to Wellbeing and Mindfulness for PGRs
The University’s Six Ways to Wellbeing are actions which all members of the University are encouraged to incorporate into their daily life, to help them feel good and function well. For ideas on how PGRs can use this framework please see Six Ways to PGR Wellbeing and the wellbeing for PGRs resources on Student Support. Developed by a PGR the Mindfulness for Postgraduate Research resource applies mindfulness to the day to day challenges of postgraduate research.
The Wellbeing Thesis
Recognising the distinctive challenges that PGRs can experience, the University of Derby, King’s College London and Student Minds have developed an open access web resource to support postgraduate researchers’ wellbeing, learning and research. It is free to use and can be accessed here.
Researcher Development Training
Faculty-based researcher training and development teams, and the Library’s My Research Essentials programme, offer a range of training and support on topics such as ‘shut up and write’, overcoming imposter syndrome, perfection and mindfulness. Please check Faculty websites for details – Biology, Medicine and Health, Humanities, Science and Engineering.
Additional information and support on issues such as housing, finances, visas and a A-Z of all University Services please see the University’s student support pages.
The Counselling Service
The Counselling Service is open to all students, including postgraduate researchers. The Service is aware of the unique nature of the issues that PGRs experience and the support they offer takes into account the distinct experience of PGRs; this is applicable to individual appointments as well as other resources such as workshops and online tools. Workshops are open to all and some cater specifically to PGRs, for example, Managing PhD Stress. The service signposts to wellbeing apps of most relevance to PGRs and there are useful interactive resources on relevant topics such as procrastination.
Disability Advice and Support Service (DASS)
The Disability Advisory and Support Service (DASS) provides an accessible and inclusive service for all students, including postgraduate researchers, who have a disability to access the support they need. The type of support ranges from assistive software to specialist equipment. You can book a quick query appointment to access the support you need.
24 Hour Mental Health Helpline
Mental health support from trained counsellors and advisors who are ready to listen and provide help on everything from emotional and physical health, mental health, relationships, managing stress and anxiety, money issues and more. The confidential helpline is available 24/7 on 0800 028 3766. More information is available at this link.
All members of the University can access free online mental health and wellbeing support with Togetherall (formerly Big White Wall), any time, any day. The 24/7 online community is monitored by clinicians and is anonymous and confidential. To join - select Universities and Colleges under the organisation tab and enter your University email address.
Help in A Crisis
Text - Shout is the UK's first free 24/7 text service for anyone in crisis anytime, anywhere. It's a place to go if you're struggling to cope and you need immediate help. TEXT Shout to 8528.
Phone - The Samaritan: Freefone 116 123 or 0161 236 8000 charged at a local rate. Available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to talk confidentially about any problem, however big or small.
Online - Manchester Nightline Nightmail is available 24/7. All emails are scrambled as they arrive to keep anonymity, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Resources for PGR Supervisors
PGR Supervisor Toolkit
Supervisors play a vital role in supporting the wellbeing of PGRs. The PGR Supervisor Toolkit has a dedicated section on wellbeing and student support which contains useful signposting information for supervisors. Supervisors can also watch the Supervising Stressed Students video and refer to the guidance on how to spot the signs of stress.
Two online modules, originally developed by the University of Durham have been adapted for supervisors at the University of Manchester.
Supporting PGR Mental Health and Wellbeing for PGR Supervisors - An overview of mental health within the context of postgraduate research and guidance on how supervisors can identify, respond to and support PGRs in distress.
Case Studies for PGR Supervision in the Context of Mental Health Difficulties - Case studies are used to examine the process of PGR supervision when a supervisee is experiencing difficulties.
This flowchart guides supervisors through different levels of support that PGRs may need and includes questions to ask along with signposting to training and resources.
Counselling Service Training for Staff
There are two online resources for all staff. Supporting Students will help you understand how to support wellbeing and Identifying and responding to student mental health problems uses short videos to take you through a number of scenarios to help you think through what might be helpful responses, including when to refer to other sources of help and support.
In addition to the online resources, regular face to face training sessions are provided.
Student Mental Health Matters: spotting the signs, knowing what to say and what to do is an interactive session held via zoom. Further information and booking can be found via the staff training catalogue.
If you have significant concerns about someone then please refer to The Crisis Pathway Poster.
Resources for Professional Services
The model of student support, including support for PGRs, is structured in to a stepped model of care, moving from prevention through support to more formal intervention. You can access the Counselling Service interactive presentation on the Stepped Care Model to find out more.
The Counselling Service’s online resources for all staff are aimed at helping you to understand how to support wellbeing - Supporting Students and at helping you to think through what might be helpful responses, including when to refer to other sources of help and support - Identifying and responding to student mental health problems.
The PGR wellbeing project developed an online resource for professional services colleagues services colleagues outlining the distinctiveness of the postgraduate research experience and how that may impact on the type of support that PGRs need.
Please ensure The Crisis Pathway Poster is prominently display in professional services offices.
Research England/Office for Students Catalyst Fund Project Update - University of Manchester PGR Wellbeing Project
A short video update on the progress and impact of our project as presented to the UKCGE Mental Health and Wellbeing Conference May 2021.