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New mental health support for postgrad students to be developed

11 Apr 2018

The University has been awarded £150,000 to develop new ways of supporting the wellbeing and mental health of postgraduate research students

Mental health support for postgraduate students

The funding, from the Higher Education Council for England (HEFCE), will allow the University to improve targeted wellbeing and mental health services to postgraduate research students and, where needed, access to specialised NHS services.

The University has almost 4,000 postgraduate research (PGR) students, with over a third of these coming from outside the EU. Because of the different ways in which these students interact with the University and the particular pressures they may come under, the new project will seek to develop more specific policies and services.

These will include: developing a new monthly wellbeing check which will be completed by students and supervisors, and working with the existing PGR Representatives’ Network. There will also be resources, such as mindfulness tools which will be developed with outside specialists and made available to students and staff.

The project will employ two full-time members of staff – one in the Students’ Union and one in the University’s Graduate Education Team.

There will also be extensive consultation and regular meetings with students themselves. Aleksandra Besevic, a member of the PGR Representatives’ Network who is studying consumer behaviour in sustainable fashion, said: “I’m very happy that the University has secured the funding to improve postgraduate wellbeing. I have been working on student wellbeing in the Faculty of Science and Engineering which has made a difference to the community and bringing students together.

“Wellbeing is often overlooked by the students themselves, so it is important to have activities arranged by students for students. I hope this will improve postgraduate wellbeing across the whole University and foster a balanced working environment.”

Professor Matthew Lambon Ralph, Associate Vice-President (Research) and Director of the Manchester Doctoral College, said: “The health and wellbeing of our students is something where the University, working with partners, has been highly innovative. This particular piece of funding will allow us to thoroughly scope out the needs of this group of students and put measures in place which are tailored to their particular needs.”

The project team will include University staff with expertise in wellbeing and mental health, working in partnership with selected external partners from: the Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust, Vitae, MIND, BluSCI, Six Degrees, Student Minds and the Institute of Employment Studies.

The project is due to finish in early 2020 and results will be shared across the HE sector as new services are implemented.