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11 February 2022

Education for Mental Health toolkit will embed mental wellbeing into university teaching

A new toolkit designed to embed the teaching of mental wellbeing into university teaching was launched in London this week.

education innovation fund

The Education for Mental Health toolkit represents the collaborative efforts of King’s College London, University of Derby, University of Aston and Advance HE – a charity and professional membership scheme promoting excellence in higher education. Several faculties at King’s were involved, including the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, Nursing, Midwifery & Palliative Care, Social Science & Public Policy, and Arts & Humanities

The toolkit’s focus on supporting staff to consider wellbeing in the design and delivery of their teaching is an important part of the ‘whole university’ approach to mental health and wellbeing. It moves beyond a more exclusive focus on the provision of support services and instead considers the role that all aspects of the university experience and environment play in wellbeing, working towards a more public health approach.

“We hope this toolkit will be a valuable resource for academics who want to consider how to ensure that their teaching considers wellbeing in terms of organisation, content and delivery. The curriculum is the single point of contact we have with all our students. While they will not all take up other opportunities at university, all students come to undertake a course and get a qualification: considering how we can embed approaches that enhance and promote wellbeing within those courses is therefore important. King’s has played an important part in this collaborative project, and we hope that the important research evidence that comes from this project will be of benefit to the sector as a whole.”

Professor Juliet Foster, Dean of Education at the IoPPN and a Co-Investigator on the project, as well as Academic Lead for Student Mental Health and Wellbeing for King’s

A team led by Dr Nicola Byrom at IoPPN conducted a full systematic review of the available literature before running quantitative and qualitative studies that looked at the particular modules across five faculties at King’s which aim to improve student wellbeing in some way. Before and after data was collected from students taking these modules, and was investigated to establish what was working most effectively.

One of the modules the team studied was Wellbeing in London, led by Dr Jennifer Oates in the Faculty of Nursing, Midwifery & Palliative Care. This module is an opportunity for nursing students to consider the multiple perspectives of wellbeing in London and opportunities to improve it, using the framework of the Five Ways to Wellbeing. Using both evidence-based content and experiential activities, students engage critically with interventions and approaches to wellbeing while reflecting on their own self-awareness and self-care behaviours.

Nursing students have a busy academic and practice learning timetable which can at times limit opportunities to take part in extra-curricular activities offered by the university. Embedding a module into the nursing curriculum not only gives students structured time to explore wellbeing, the content acknowledges the distinct perspective nursing students have as fledgling health professionals and aligns with the development of their expertise in health and wellbeing across their broader degree programme.

The five-week module includes lectures and practical workshops exploring the Five Ways to Wellbeing. Students are assessed though weekly journaling and a summative essay at the end of the module. Topics covered include social aspects of wellbeing, philosophical perspectives on happiness, meditation and mindfulness.

Module leader Dr Jennifer Oates is an experienced lecturer and mental health nurse. Speaking about the module content Dr Oates said, ‘My favourite activity in the module is ‘keep moving’, it’s the thing that keeps me sane! But I do enjoy multitasking so my ideal would be an activity that fits all the five ways of wellbeing in one thing, like going for a walk with my friend to help them solve a problem, listening to a podcast on the way where I’m learning new things, where I can appreciate the nice weather!’

Dr Rebecca Upsher, Lecturer in Psychology at King's IoPPN said, "Learning and wellbeing at university cannot be disentangled. The Education for Mental Health toolkit effectively amalgamates new and existing research with expert opinions, presenting practical tips for supporting university student learning and wellbeing within the curriculum and assessment design."

The full case study about Wellbeing in London and other modules are available as part of the Education for Mental Health Toolkit.

For more information, please contact Patrick O’Brien (Media Manager)

In this story

Nicola-byrom

Senior Lecturer in Psychology

Juliet Foster New

Dean of Education

headshot_RUpsher

Lecturer in Psychology (Education)