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University of Essex raises awareness of mental health issues

11 Oct University of Essex raises awareness of mental health issues

To mark World Mental Health Day on 10 October we showcase two examples of how the University of Essex is committed for raising awareness of mental health issues.

Students travel to Sri Lanka to expand understanding of global mental health

Two Essex students travelled to Sri Lanka to undertake a voluntary Mental Health Placement with SLV, a graduate-led volunteering organisation, which runs psychology-focused placements in Sri Lanka and Bali.

During their placements, Ciara Nolan and Veronica Savva, and the rest of their volunteer teams, planned and ran therapeutic activity sessions in psychiatric facilities for individuals living with a wide range of mental health issues. In addition to their time at the hospital, volunteers also worked at numerous schools and social initiatives for children and adults with disabilities and taught English in the local community.

Commenting on the experience Ciara said: ‘’The amount of mental health experience I was able to gain was incredible and would be almost impossible to get in the UK. Every day varied from planning and implementing therapeutic sessions on mental health and special needs projects, to teaching English in the local Sri Lankan community.”

Veronica added: “The placement combines self-development, cultural awareness, confidence boosting, fun, education, learning teaching skills and mental health work with elder, young and special needs people on a daily basis. What I liked the most, though, is the satisfaction of receiving a smile while giving a smile!”

The Psychology students worked with the local community, as well as living with a Sri Lankan family. This completely immersive experience gave them a unique insight into Sri Lankan culture and daily life. Learning about mental health treatment in another country really enriched Ciara and Veronica’s knowledge of global mental health and will help them if they look to pursue a career working with individuals from diverse cultural backgrounds.

New role at Essex focuses on mental health nursing

Professor Fiona Nolan

Professor Fiona Nolan

Professor Fiona Nolan has taken up her position as Florence Nightingale Foundation Chair in Clinical Mental Health Nursing Practice Research at Essex.

The new Professorship, in the School of Health and Human Sciences at Essex, is the result of a new strategic partnership between the University, the North Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (NEP), and the Florence Nightingale Foundation.

The Florence Nightingale Foundation supports a virtual Faculty of 12 clinical nursing professors in the UK and the appointment at the University of Essex is the only FNF Professorship with an emphasis on mental health nursing.

Professor Nolan has an international reputation and experience of leading multi-professional research teams focusing on mental health care. She said: “This newly created Chair is a great step forward for mental health nursing in the UK. It offers the opportunity to truly combine clinical and academic practice and to develop the potential of the mental health nursing workforce to engage with research. I am honoured to have been given this role and look forward to working with the University, Trust and Florence Nightingale Foundation to progress the mental health research agenda.”

The Executive Dean, Science and Health, Professor Graham Underwood, said: “Our nursing and health care colleagues in the School of Health and Human Sciences are delighted about Professor Nolan’s appointment, which represents an opportunity to grow research capacity and strengthen outputs that translate research directly into clinical care, support innovation and enhance the patient experience. Fiona’s appointment also complements work being done on mental health, wellbeing and social impacts across the University. The School of Health and Human Sciences is well known for its excellence in teaching and student experience, and this position shows our shared commitment to developing similar excellence in research.”