Staff Health and Wellbeing Updates

April 2020: Multifaith Chaplaincy Events

We know it will be a loss to many that the Chaplaincy Centre is closed, however the team have decided to keep some of their regular meetings going remotely.

The following activities are available for University of Bristol staff to join weekly:

Tuesday: Bible reading group (1pm-2pm): This group offers an opportunity for everyone, whatever their faith perspective, to reflect together on texts from the Bible and how they can inform our life today.

Wednesday: Staff meditation (12:30-1:30pm): This group, led by Jinho Shi, Michael Malay and Robin Klimecki, is intended for staff members who would like to bring more awareness and serenity to their working lives. Join us for two twenty-minute meditation sittings, with a short interval of mindfulness movements.

Daily meditation: Jinho Shi (our Buddhist Chaplain) will also be running daily meditations classes in the morning and evening, to which all are welcome.

  • Morning meditation: 9am-10am, Monday to Friday
  • Evening meditation: 8pm-9:30pm, Monday to Thursday

If you would like to join any of these sessions, please email . 

April 2020: Our Employee Assistance Programme and the Thrive App

Staying connected with family and friends can lead us to spend more time on our smartphones than we may like to. If you are looking for a way to de-stress, our Employee Assistance Programme comes with a handy app that can help remind you to take care of yourself. Previously under 'EAP in your pocket', the Thrive app has a selection of features that take you through the fundementals of Cognative Behavioural Therapy, breathing exercises and other mindfullness techniques. Louisa Slingsby, a lecturer here at Bristol shares her experience of the app and why she finds it so helpful:

"Hi, my name is Louisa Slingsby and I am a senior lecturer in the Vet School. I have been using the Thrive app for a long time now. I have it on my phone and tablet and find it invaluable. What you get is an in-an-all in one app which prompts you to check your mental health and will flag if you should consider contacting an external source of help (with suggestions for what that should be) and also provides a good choice of in-app activities that can help promote good mental health. The app gives you three daily goals which you can adjust to suit - for example mine for today are 'continue with the CBT course', 'walk for 30 minutes' and a 'calm breathing session'. If you are competitively inclined you do get points for engagement and you can spend the points against the 'wise words' word search game in the app.  

What do I like best about the app? It gives a really good introduction to various techniques that can help you calm your mind and/ or body such as calm breathing exercises and progressive muscle relation and then has sessions of varying length that can be guided or unguided for you to follow. There is content that is progressively unlocked as you engage with more of the app - for example I am just over half way through a CBT course where you can only go onto the next session once you have completed the previous one. My absolute favourite bit is the guided calm breathing listening to a lovely Scottish lady with my choice of wave sounds as background - I do this every-night when I get into bed for between 3 and 15 minutes as it really helps me unwind and drop off to sleep."

April 2020: How to cope with Productivity Pressure

The pressure to be productive during this unprecidented time can be overwhelming. In this articleAisha S. Ahmad shares tips on how to avoid feeling guilty that you are not doing everything you feel you should be. Seeking security, undergoing a mental shift and embracing a new normal are all stages to a process that ultimately may help you to feel more at peace with the current situation. 

March 2020: Breathing Space is now Online

As we all adjust to our changed working environment Breathing Space can now be accessed remotely.

Following a successful pilot session, Breathing Space sessions are online via Skype for Business.  Our aim is to offer staff a choice of sessions each week that you can join remotely. Each session explores basic mindfulness techniques and lasts for 30 minutes.  Sessions comprise of brief meditation practices and a ‘thought for the day’.  All staff welcome to join us.  Sessions can be accessed via the Staff Counselling website.

March 2020: Coronavirus and Mental Health

It is clear that there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding the Coronavirus, and that we will all find this unsettling at times. Below are some resources that provide useful help and guidance:

You may also want to explore the Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) if you feel you need support. It is available to all University staff as part of our Group Income Protection Scheme online, by phone or via the app. The programme is run by Care First and offers, among other things, a helpline with confidential, 24-hour personal assistance from experienced counsellors. The helpline number is 0800 015 5630.

The Staff Counselling Service is also available if you'd like to speak to someone. They are currently offering online breathing space sessions that are open to all staff. Please see the Staff Counselling sharepoint site for more information.

We are aware this is a worrying time and you may have concerns or anxieties. There are a number of services which are available to support you. If you have concerns that about the virus that are not covered in the information above or on the staff intranet pages, please contact your line manager or email the dedicated staff mailbox:

March 2020: Staff Health and Wellbeing Pop-ups

In line with guidance from the Univeristy Senior Team, we are postponing our Langford Staff Health and Wellbeing Pop-up event until further notice. Please check back here for updates when a new date has been announced.

Mental Health Champions

The University of Bristol is taking part in Mind’s Mentally Healthy Universities pilot. As part of the pilot, 30 new Staff Mental Health Champions have been recruited across lots of different areas of the University. You can find out more about what our Mental Health Champions are doing, and your local contact, here.

Precarious Contracts

The University of Bristol and Bristol UCU continue to work together to reduce the precarious employment of academic and professional services staff on fixed-term contracts of employment. Security of work and excellent staff experience are aims to which both the University and UCU are committed.

This active collaboration follows the submission of Bristol UCU’s Anti-Casualisation Claim October last year, and the joint statement issued by the University and Bristol UCU in January

As a vehicle for ongoing Claim negotiations, the University of Bristol has established a Precarious Contracts Review Group to address the points raised in the Anti-Casualisation Claim. This Review Group is populated by two HR Project Officers working directly for the project, as well as University and UCU representatives. Bristol UCU welcomes the establishment of this Group as a positive commitment from the University to address unnecessary insecure employment.

The University is open to reviewing and consulting on a number of proposals to reduce the number of precarious contracts and has already signalled its commitment to introduce procedures to ensure the issuing of hourly-paid teaching contracts to staff before the start of their teaching.

Through the Precarious Contracts Review Group, both Bristol UCU and the University look forward to presenting positive proposals over the course of 2019.