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Safety, Health and Wellbeing

The top priority for all universities remains the safety, health and wellbeing of the entire university community, this includes mental health and the safety of staff and students who may be at risk of violence or abuse.


Safety from abuse

Universities UK recognises that the lockdown measures in place to reduce the spread of Covid-19 could put individuals at greater risk of domestic violence and technology mediated abuse (online harassment).

Universities will already have policies in place to support staff and students at risk; this briefing has been specifically developed to support them to do this during the Covid-19 pandemic. It refers to what universities need to know and what they can do, drawing on expert advice from academics, professional services staff in the sector, along with feedback from external organisations supporting victims/survivors and those concerned about their own use of violence and abuse.

Given the situation continues to evolve rapidly, it would be helpful to share resources, strategies, and practical approaches adopted by universities to respond to domestic abuse during the lockdown period. Please send to fiona.waye@universitiesuk.ac.uk by 22 May. These will help to inform a second briefing.  

Summary

  • Domestic abuse and technology mediated abuse increased during the lockdown; responding to this the government has launched a communications campaign to highlight that support is still available.
  • Universities are encouraged to reiterate messages that abuse is not tolerated, and to signpost to help and support. A comprehensive list of UK helplines and services are provided on page 13 of the briefing.
  • Those experiencing abuse are allowed to leave the home and will not be fined if they travel under these circumstances. This includes students living in halls.
  • Free travel is available to those seeking refuge through the member services of Women's Aid Federation of England, Welsh Women's Aid, Scottish Women's Aid and Imkaan.
  • Universities can help by providing a safe space and some are already doing so, along with development of exit strategies for when the lockdown measures are lifted.
  • Experts suggest that universities should be prepared for a spike in reports by students after the lockdown is removed, therefore planning how to respond to this increase in demand will be important.

Download the briefing: 

'Beginning the conversation: responding to domestic abuse and violence in higher education during Covid-19 pandemic'


 

Wellbeing

We recommend the following mental health and wellbeing resources to the university community.


GOV.UK 

Guidance for the public on the mental health and wellbeing aspects of coronavirus includes self-care tips, advice for groups with specific mental health needs, links to further support where needed, and information on how to deal with mental health emergencies.

Public Health England: Every Mind Matters campaign

Public Health England [PHE] has launched a new campaign to support people to manage their mental wellbeing during this difficult time, highlighting new self-care resources. These include expert advice and practical tips to help you look after your mental health and wellbeing.

PHE also has an online resource centre to help partners share this information and other relevant resources with their communities. 


Student Minds

Coronavirus resources, relevant for students and staff. This covers information on a number of areas including staying at home, xenophobia and racism, and supporting your friends and family. Student Minds also provides a 'Looking after your mate' guide, shaped by students' own experiences. 

City Mental Health Alliance

The CMHA UK team has compiled a fact sheet detailing useful resources and tips to support the mental health of employees. This is specifically for staff and covers guidance for employers.

Mind

Mental health charity Mind has published practical advice for staying at home (including a checklist); taking care of your mental health and wellbeing; and support for work, benefits and housing.

Mental Health Foundation

The Mental Health Foundation is part of the national mental health response, providing support to address the mental health and psychosocial aspects of the Coronavirus outbreak, alongside colleagues at Public Health England and the Department of Health and Social Care.

Here are tips from the Mental Health Foundation to help you, your friends and your family look after your mental health.

4mental health

4mental health has developed a new 'WellbeingAndCoping' resource, developed with co-funding from NHS England to offer free calming and practical advice for anyone emotionally struggling during the coronavirus pandemic.

This is suitable for professionals and the general public alike and may be particularly helpful to individuals in a 'carer' role, including young carers. It provides step-by-step guidance to help people build their own personalised physical and mental health wellbeing plan. 

The resource has been designed with expert input from international academics, health professionals, mental health specialists, educators and individuals who are currently struggling emotionally.

Expert Self Care

Expert Self Care creates mobile health information apps that enable organisations to help groups of people find reassuring health advice in seconds, signpost local services effectively and help people avoid the frustrations and dangers of searching online for health information. There is an app specifically for students and this is certified by the NHS.

Wakey Wakey TV

Wakey! is a daily, interactive breakfast show. It is an alarm-based micro (9-minute) entertainment show delivered on your phone that replaces your snooze button, designed to get its audience up out of bed and active, while communicating mental wellbeing topics accessibly. 

The team have a robust methodology of entertainment and behavioural science, and they are aiming to create different styles of programme to target different demographics.

University of Oxford's Staff Disability Advisory Group 

Information that has been put together by Oxford's Staff Disability Advisory Group to acknowledge the specific issues faced by those who have existing mental ill-health. This is a helpful compilation of useful and reliable resources.

International Federation of the Red Cross, UNICEF and WHO

EPI-WIN seeks to give everyone access to timely, accurate, and easy-to-understand advice and information from trusted sources on public health events and outbreaks: currently the COVID-19 public health emergency.

News

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23 April 2020
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