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10 March 2023

Taking a 'paws' for University Mental Health Day at the IoPPN

A whole host of events were on offer for staff and students at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) to celebrate University Mental Health Day on Thursday 9th March.

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The IoPPN staff and student community came together to get involved in events and activities focused on promoting positive wellbeing. Throughout the day, the IoPPN Main Building on Denmark Hill campus was a wellbeing hub offering free hot drinks and biscuits, a group study session, movie night and a therapeutic visit from ‘The Cuddle Club’ for dog lovers.

The stars of the show were undoubtedly the Cuddle Club heroes who brought a whole lot of ‘puppy love’ to the IoPPN. The Cuddle Club delivers dog therapy direct to the workplace, supporting mental health at work. The Cuddle Club is workplace wellbeing at its cutest and dog therapy is widely recognised.

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Richard Barnard, Director of Operations at King's IoPPN with Imperial Shih Tzu 'Louis', and 'Chief' the French Bulldog.

What a fun afternoon and a great way to mark University Mental Health Day. It was lovely to see so many eager students and staff waiting for their turn at spending some quality time with the Cuddle Club dogs. We could hear the laughing and joy echo throughout the IoPPN Main Building. I certainly enjoyed spending a bit of time away from the desk and Microsoft Teams meetings. What next? Free hugs in the canteen?!

Richard Barnard, Director of Operations, King’s IoPPN.

University Mental Health Day is an initiative adopted by university communities to make mental health a university-wide priority and create ongoing year-round change to the future of student mental health. Every year University Mental Health Day aims to bring people together and change the narrative surrounding student mental health.

Now more than ever, it’s important that staff and students join together to get the nation talking about student mental health.

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Alex Booth, Communications and Engagement Manager, NIHR Maudsley Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) cuddling Louis

University Mental Health Day is a great opportunity to draw attention to the work that goes on in the IoPPN, King’s College London and indeed the sector as a whole to promote and develop the ‘whole university’ approach to mental health and wellbeing. This recognises that our focus should not just be on individual support services (although these are always important), but on everything we do across the university in education, physical and social environment and provision for staff.

Professor Juliet Foster, Dean of Education, King’s IoPPN.

In July 2022, the IoPPN launched ‘YourIoPPN’, a new initiative to celebrate students and staff and the community through events, campaigns, design initiatives, and social media. Over the last year, the IoPPN Student Experience Team has worked closely with KCLSU to run lots of student events throughout term-time, including quiz nights, sexual health and sexuality week, mental health week, wellness hours, movie nights and King’s Sport events.

For University Mental Health Day, the Student Experience Team hosted the IoPPN’s first faculty study session as part of the ongoing ‘Your IoPPN’ initiative. Students were invited to the Denmark Hill KCLSU for an opportunity to get on with their work, meet fellow students, relax in the new beanbags and help themselves to free coffee, tea and biscuits. Staff and students were encouraged to stop by the lift lobby near reception for free tea and hot chocolate from the IoPPN wellbeing and welfare advisors.

Once lectures finished, students were encouraged to stay on campus for a special Twilight Talk. Twilight Talks are hosted monthly by the IoPPN Student Experience Team; each month students are invited to watch a movie together relating to the fields of psychiatry, psychology or neuroscience, followed by a short, interactive discussion led by an IoPPN Professor, lecturer or postgraduate research student about a topic relating to the movie. For University Mental Health Day, the IoPPN screened 'A Beautiful Mind' followed by a discussion led by Dr Fiona Essig titled ‘portrayal of mental health difficulties in film - stereotypical or empathetic?’.


Students can find wellbeing support on the IoPPN Student Hub on KEATS.

In this story

Richard Barnard

Director of Operations, IoPPN

Juliet Foster

Dean of Education