The importance of mental health…

World Mental Health Day is the 10th October, so it feels apt to focus this week’s blog on mental health and wellbeing. When I completed my Children’s Nurse training almost twenty years ago, mental health and wellbeing was not as widely recognised or championed as it is today for healthcare students. The focus was different and predominately on patient care rather than self-care and practitioner wellbeing. I am pleased to see this has really changed over the years and evolved to recognise the mental health needs of both health care workers and students.

So why is mental health important for our students? Healthcare students today are embracing a very different world with rapid technology advancements, increased social media pressure and financial constraints, in addition to the Covid-19 pandemic. So how can we help? At the University we provide pastoral support to all our students, which is one of my favourite aspects of my role as a Teaching Fellow. This means all our students are allocated a Personal Tutor (PT) whom they can access for support as required throughout their programme in addition to set pastoral touch points with their PT. We have a Wellbeing Centre on campus, with qualified counsellors who can offer counselling and a range of different support and advice services via Microsoft Teams. There are also support services available to our students 24 hours, 7 days a week via University Security and the Wardens in addition to other out of hours services available that students can be signposted too.

Students can access MySurrey Hive for immediate support and advice for student related queries and somewhere to meet up with friends. We have student course representatives in each cohort to help support and work with you to ensure our students have an active voice and role within Programme and Faculty decisions. There are academic workshops and study support is available to help students progress and meet their full potential. If you are neurodivergent, have a disability or a medical need, we have the Disability and Neurodiversity (DAN) team to provide support and meet your individual needs.        

Student finance services can help advise students of the financial support available to them according to their individual circumstances. The University also offers a range of different affordable food/eating options around campus including a diverse foodie’s paradise food market every Thursday at the Austin Pearce Plaza that can also be delivered to your doorstep if you are living on campus or in Guildford. Not forgetting the Student Union who also offer additional support services to students, competitive discounts and information around student social events.    

The University facilities have been made Covid secure across campus and a hybrid teaching model (online and face to face) has been adopted to ensure our students can continue with their learning safely and enjoy the benefits of student life. The University has a dedicated system in place to support those students that need to self-isolate, which your Field/Cohort Lead or PT can advise you further about. The University has also put self-isolation buddies in place to support students during this time to help ensure you have a support network.                

This is a strange time to begin a healthcare programme, but you have already overcome several challenges to be here today. Together we have got this, and we will support you the best we can throughout your programme. Becoming a Children and Young Persons Nurse is an exciting and diverse career that is not new to adversity but strives to be the best it can be for children and young people and their families. We hope you enjoy your time on the programme, as we look forward to getting to know you and sharing your journey.  

Author: Heather Lane Teaching Fellow, Children and Young Persons Nursing and Specialist Practice.           

Disclaimer: This blog contains personal opinions of students and teaching fellows only and does not necessarily represent the views of the Children’s Nursing team, School of Health Sciences or the University of Surrey.

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