St Andrews develops mental health toolkit for staff

Universities UK’s Stepchange Framework looks at student mental health and wellbeing through four ‘domains’ of Learn, Support, Work and Live. Good mental health is
central to an engaged, productive and creative work environment, as the following example shows.

The University of St Andrews has developed a Mental Health Toolkit for staff in student-facing roles so they can better support individuals experiencing mental health issues.

The Toolkit is part of a wider programme that offers tailored streams of mental health first aid training including academic staff, research postgraduate tutors, staff working in university residences, Students’ Association sabbatical officers and student-facing professional services staff. Since its introduction, over 800 staff members have been trained in using the Toolkit and feedback forms and staff reports indicate trainees feel better equipped to appropriately support student wellbeing and mental health in their role on completion of the training.

As part of the University’s continuous improvement and development of its training, the Mental Health Toolkit is evolving in 2021/22 to become the Mental Health Awareness Programme (MHAP). The MHAP incorporates suicide prevention training for the whole university population and has been designed and piloted by the University’s Head of Special Projects. Baseline training, developed and designed with Zero Suicide Alliance with a bespoke St Andrews focus, is available for every member of the university community via a compulsory online course on suicide awareness and prevention.

For those at a higher level of focus, who are involved in building the university’s capacity in suicide prevention, the MHAP includes arrangements to train some staff and students in Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) so that they can deliver SuicideTALK, a 90 minute facilitated discussion that explores issues related to suicide including myths, raises awareness of suicide prevention, reduces stigma and encourages open dialogue.