‘Feeling Good and Functioning Well’ – Improving Students’ Wellbeing

Daryl Johnson

How libraries can enhance students’ wellbeing, was a core theme at Warwick’s engaging and discursive workshop.

On Thursday 19th April 2018, the University of Warwick hosted the MSDG’s Wellbeing event. This event showcased what member institutions are currently doing to support students’ wellbeing, while also providing an opportunity for delegates to think collaboratively about how such services could be established or enhanced.  

Warwick Wellbeing Outreach Advisor, Janet Winter, set the scene for the day’s discussions, emphasising how wellbeing was more than ‘the absence of disease’, being more a matter of “feeling good and functioning well.” Janet provided an overview of the activities Warwick deploys to support students’ wellbeing, neatly illustrating how these contributed towards meeting the university’s mission and aims. She also expanded on what were perceived as the key factors for the success of their Wellbeing Support Services. As expected, Janet’s talk generated a lively discussion and served to set a strong tone for the rest of the morning’s presentations. [Slides]

Jane Mortimer, Head of Academic Liaison and Administration at De Montfort University followed, with her presentation on the university-wide wellbeing initiative currently underway. Jane described DMU’s ‘sometimes-frustrating, iterative process’, which arose within these exciting developmental activities. However, she enthusiastically emphasised the importance support and funding from senior management had played in driving the initiative forward. [Slides]

Sharon Davison, Academic Liaison Librarian at Coventry University, then presented an overview of the events held as part of their Mental Health and Wellbeing Week. The breadth of the programme in Sharon’s presentation was noted as inspirational by many delegates, with the owl petting event providing the biggest surprise. [Slides]

Finally, Philip Sale and Aysa Ozcan, Warwick Library’s Undergraduate and Postgraduate Community Engagement Co-ordinators respectively, capped off the morning’s presentations by focusing on how they had facilitated different kinds of engagement amongst their student communities. Philip stressed the importance of working with collaborators as being integral to the success of their Undergraduate Study Happy events programme. Similarly, Aysa felt the provision of peer support proffered a key factor in meeting postgraduate students’ wellbeing needs. [Slides]

Wellbeing session 1Wellbeing session 2Wellbeing session 3 - quackWellbeing session 4

While the presentations had provided great food for thought in the run up to the lunch break, more content was yet to come. During the lunch break, the Warwick Library’s Community Engagement team laid out some of the crafts and games which are made available to students during their wellbeing events. These included giant Jenga and Connect 4, along with origami and craft materials. The beautiful, sunny weather also meant it was a perfect opportunity for attendees to walk around the campus lake, while successfully avoiding the geese, before returning for the afternoon workshops. [Surely viewing geese was an event highlight? - Ed]

Becky Woolley (Community Engagement Manager, Warwick) along with Jane, Sharon and Janet facilitated fifteen-minute break-out sessions on a series of topics. Delegates had the opportunity to rotate through all the topics during the workshop’s group discussions. Key takeaway ideas focussed around the challenges students faced, and especially the importance of considering their support needs during their learning journey’s respective ‘crunch points’ Delegates generated a wealth of other ideas too, which provided a rich tapestry of shared experience to bring back to their own institutions and colleagues.

The event was closed by Ant Brewerton, Head of Academic Services at Warwick. Ant emphasised the need for institutions to continue collaborating and developing professional networks, in order to continue growing, learning and building upon each other’s successes and experience.

Linked event: