Category Archives: Mental Health

Ensuring those with mental health conditions in our community are supported with their condition while continuing to be treated fairly, equally and without stigma.

World Mental Health Day: Just Ask

 Today (Wednesday 10th of October) is World Mental Health Day. Every year, 1 in 4 people experience mental health difficulties, and sometimes you just need someone to talk to.

We spoke to Mark Bendall, a volunteer for Just Ask, about how the network supports staff and promotes good mental health at work.

Can you tell me a bit about what Just Ask does?

We are a group of volunteers, independent from the University, who are trained to provide non-judgmental, confidential advice to staff. We are a stepping stone for staff, to give them a chance to explore their options without going through the more formal University channels.

Our volunteers are excellent. A mixture of long standing and newer volunteers that were recruited two years ago, they have gained lots of training and experience, meaning they are sensible and really know what they’re doing.

Why do you feel Just Ask is so important to staff?

While we aren’t a counselling service, and only usually offer one meeting, maximum two, we still have an enormous impact on those we speak to. Many who speak to us have had our service recommended to them by colleagues, which shows the impact we’ve had.

For many, it is the first time they are able to speak about their problem, and it gives people a space to fully express their concerns and emotions, without fear of judgement. We hope that people see the service as something that’s there for them when they need it, and that the advice we give is empowering and provides a sense of control.

Can you tell me a bit about how Just Ask came about?

Initially, we were two separate volunteering groups, one which helped with bullying, and the other with stress. When we came together, we sat down and discussed what we would be, and broadened the areas in which we offer support. Until recently, we have been looked after by HR, but are now an independent volunteering group under the University Health and Safety Service.

Why did you choose to volunteer for Just Ask?

I had been active in trade union and while part of the union, I developed an interest in helping people with bullying at work. Here, I saw that there were often cases where people felt that they were being bullied, but by talking to them about the situation I was able to help them see if this was really the case and understand their situation more clearly. This was something I hoped I could do as a Just Ask volunteer.

Where would you like to see the network go in the future?

Because we have moved under the Safety Office, as part of the University’s broader wellbeing strategy, this has made Just Ask much more robust and will allow us to do a lot more for staff and have more regular meetings for the volunteers.

We also hope this new structure will promote the service more, and allow us to reach more people.

If you’re a staff member at Newcastle University and would like to find out more about Just Ask, or other resources the University offers to promote staff wellbeing, please click here.

Alternatively, if you’re a student and feel you need some support, you can contact Nightline or the Student Wellbeing Service.

Resilience Workshop: October 12th

Resilience is our capacity to adapt positively to pressure, setbacks and challenges. It is about our ability to keep going, maintain our wellbeing, learn and develop.

Following the successful workshop series that the Faculty ran last year, we are offering a lunchtime workshop to give staff and students tools and techniques around resilience that can applied at work or at home.

The workshop will be delivered by Lisa Rippingale (Senior Organisational Development Adviser), who has been trained by Dr Mandi Sherlock Storey (Chartered and Registered Practitioner Occupational Psychologist, and Head of Leadership Transformation with the North East Leadership Academy), who originally developed these workshops as part of her PhD research on Resilience. Lisa has successfully delivered similar workshops at a number of organisations in recent years, and her workshops come highly recommended from our own staff.

Friday 12th of October, 11am – 2pm
L2.2, Leech Building, the Medical School

To book please go to: https://bit.ly/2wOotiq
Places will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.Previous sessions have been extremely popular, and early booking is advised. There will be a break for lunch, so please bring your packed lunch along.

For any queries please contact Malasree Home (ext. 85423).

Personal Resilience Through Change Workshops

Resilience is our capacity to adapt positively to pressure, setbacks and challenges. It is about our ability to keep going, maintain our wellbeing, learn and develop.

As part of Mental Health Awareness Week (14-20th May), we are offering a series of three workshops to give staff and students tools and techniques around resilience that can applied at work or at home.

The workshops will be delivered by Lisa Rippingale, who recently joined the University as a Senior Organisational Development Adviser. Lisa was trained by Dr Mandi Sherlock Storey (Chartered and Registered Practitioner Occupational Psychologist, and Head of Leadership Transformation with the North East Leadership Academy), who originally developed these workshops as part of her PhD research on Resilience. Lisa has successfully delivered similar workshops at a number of organisations in recent years.

The workshops run as a series, so you need to commit and sign up for all three:

  1. 15 May 2018, 12 – 1pm, RIDB1.2.04A (Seminar Room 2.04A, 2nd Floor Ridley 1)
  2. 5 June 2018, 12 – 1pm, RIDB1.2.04A (Seminar Room 2.04A, 2nd Floor Ridley 1)
  3. 27 June 2018, 12 – 1pm, MED L2.8 (Seminar Room L2.8, 2nd Floor Leech Building)

Spaces are limited: Please book here

For any queries please contact Malasree Home (malasree.home@newcastle.ac.uk, ext. 85423)

The trouble with teenagers

One of our MSc Psychology students has recently completed a project looking into the support networks available for parents and carers of adolescents. This has generally been a relatively neglected area when considering support for parents; there are an abundance of resources available for parents of babies or younger children, but very little once their children hit high school. As one parent has commented “There is a lot of sympathy and understanding when you lose sleep over a new-born but far less when you can’t sleep for worrying about what your errant teenager is up to.”

One of the striking findings from the MSc report was that parents have no idea what ‘normal’ teenage behaviour is, and can feel very isolated worrying about what may or may not be atypical behaviour. The proliferation of social media and the Internet has raised a whole plethora of new concerns for parents that didn’t exist a decade or so ago and this can be very difficult to deal with. Cyber-bullying; grooming; inappropriate access to sex and violence. These are all challenges that parents are trying to navigate and sensitively deal with. Then there are a whole barrage of mental health issues that come with being a teenager. Self-harm is massively on the increase; eating and self-perception disorders are exacerbated by the media, and adolescence is typically a time when affective disorders might manifest. How do parents know what is a ‘phase’ and what might need professional intervention?

Parents in our study generally said that they would like to see more forums for meeting other parents and having an opportunity to talk about their issues with other people who were going through similar experiences. They also reported wanting access to professional advice, such as workshops or information leaflets. In response to this feedback, the E&D team in FMS will be planning at least one workshop over the coming months to address some of these issues and provide advice/support for parents or carers of adolescents. There is clearly a demand for access to this kind of information, and we are keen to trial a workshop that may lead to a further series of events.

In researching the information that is currently available to parents/carers of adolescents, we came across a fantastic organisation that is all about promoting mental well-being in teenagers. Young Minds offers toolkits and info packs to schools and parents, as well as providing a forum for parents and teenagers to express their views on the issues affecting them. They run various projects throughout the year, focusing on the challenges affecting teenagers, such as self-harm, building resilience, and a range of mental health issues. This is exactly the type of forum parents have been asking for, and we hope to help build links to provide better access to these kinds of services…