Staff Health and Wellbeing Updates

September 2021: Wellbeing Spotlight Series

In September 2021, the Staff Engagement Team introduced the Wellbeing Spotlights series, in which we reminded, refreshed or introduced staff to the multitude of support services and initiatives available within our staff wellbeing offer.

July 2021: Mental Health Champions Round 3

In July 2021, the Staff Engagement team successfully recruited 21 further Staff Mental Health Champions after a succesful pilot, to help promote the importance of mental health across the University and reduce stigma around mental health conversations. Training took place in September 2021.

May 2021: Mental Health Awareness Week

Mental Health Awareness Week took place from 10 -14 May 2021. Teams across the university, as well as external providers, ran a small selection of events and workshops on mental health & wellbeing. This year the week's theme was nature, and so we hosted events, articles and activities based around the outdoor environment, as well as the environments in which we live and work. Contact staff-engagement@bristol.ac.uk for more information.

November 2020: Virtual Staff Wellbeing Festival

In November 2020 we ran our first Virtual Staff Wellbeing Festival. Like our previous Health and Wellbeing Roadshow events, the Festival raised awareness of staff health and wellbeing, and signposted to internal and external services available to colleauges at the University of Bristol.

October 2020: Mental Health Champions Pilot Round 2

In December 2019, the Staff Engagement team successfully recruited 30 Staff Mental Health Champions to help promote the importance of mental health across the University and reduce stigma around mental health conversations. The team has recruited a second cohort of champions, with training taking place in December and January.

Please contact staff-engagement@bristol.ac.uk for more information.

May 2020: Mental Health Awareness Week

As part of Mental Health Awareness Week 2020, we created a new SharePoint site to host stories, information and guidance from across the University in relation to mental health and this year’s theme of kindness. Each day, we focused on a different aspect of kindness and shared resources to support ourselves, our colleagues, our community and our environment. The SharePoint site is still available to view here.

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: coronavirus-staff@bristol.ac.uk

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.

MHAW SharePoint site to host stories, information and guidance from across the University in relation to mental health and this year’s theme of kindness. Each day, we’ll be focusing on a different aspect of kindness and sharing resources to help ourselves, our colleagues, our community and our environment.