“I’ve tried to get more support for individuals with disability/mental illness in the lab. I spoke to lab organisers individually before and after the lab course, and made a survey asking for feedback to improve a lab course which also served to see how many individuals suffered from mental illness and how many of them said they needed additional support. Some members of staff were very open to change and implemented updates to their lab course and went over with me their course of action if someone were to have a panic attack or anything of the sort.”
– A Chemistry Rep
“One particular issue that was addressed and which I worked towards solving with members of staff regarded the personal tutoring system, where some first year students experienced a lack of communication from their tutors during their first months in the department. This issue was solved by a simple meeting between the member of staff in charge of the tutoring system and myself, where we made sure that the tutors in question arranged meetings with all their first year students as a first step towards building the important relationship between tutor and tutee.”
– An Anthropology Rep
“One of the first problems I brought up was low morale, and suicidal thoughts in some of the student body. I brought this up at both SSCC meetings and the first ever education zone. Within the faculty, we produced a document outlining the main organisations, within and outside the university, students could use to discuss and improve their mental health. We also, upon recommendation of a course rep from China, decided to add a section on how the UK health and social care system differs from the rest of the world, as many international students found the difference quite staggering and so would be reluctant to seek help.”
– A Medical Sciences Rep
“Some students were insecure to speak out to staff about personal problems with supervisors and lack of access to software. I was happy to act as a voice for them and raise these issues during SSCC meetings.”
– An ICH Rep
"I mostly focused on more communication with course reps, raised issues of mental health helpline accessibility (e.g the form to sign up for psychological services is extremely long and can be uncomfortable to complete, possible barrier to seeking help) also raised complaints about Personal Tutor system. Most issues were dealt with by focus groups in Education Zone meetings."
– A Brain Sciences Faculty Rep
"After the UCL campus was closed due to the pandemic outbreak, there were some parent students and part-time research students facing financial difficulty. I arranged a one-to-one virtual meeting with students who reported their dilemmas, tried to get a deeper understanding of their concerns and required support. Then I brought those issues to a departmental PGR Reps meeting, gathered information and opinions from other departmental Reps, and discussed possible solutions. Finally, I conducted a mini-report about this issue, sent it to Faculty PGR tutor, and discussed the dilemmas with him. As part of the outcome, these actions contributed to the introduction of UCL financial funds for students facing hardship during COVID-19 outbreak."
– A Geography Rep
"I was able to raise issues related to mental health support facilities, and hopefully will be able to build a peer-support programme with staff this coming year."
– Medicine Rep
"We brought forward issues regarding mental health, pastoral care and extenuating circumstances after specific requests of the students. Immediate action was taken from the department's side after our discussion in the SSCC."
– Anthropology Rep
"I set up a blog where all PALS students and staff can submit personal stories related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The purpose is to be able to anonymously share their own story. And on the other hand, students can see that they are not alone."
- Psychology and Language Sciences
"I have been involved in supporting students who have been affected by a formal complaint/investigation into a member of staff."
- Life Sciences Rep
"Data revealed that 80+% of PhD students were affected negatively by the COVID, 2/3 of students had depression, and most of the students worked less hours. I reported that to the staff on our departmental meeting, and we agreed that we will evaluate the wellbeing of students in the ICS. The results indicated that we need to take steps to ensure that mental health of our students is better. Since then, the staff members have been circulating information among students on how to improve their wellbeing (e.g. ADAPT to Thrive, free yoga, psychological services) more often and have organised coffee meetings for students to socialise."
- Cardiovascular Science rep
"I noted some specific ongoing issues with the treatment of disabled and vulnerable students in our department, and the matter of SoRAs. Staff often did not read SoRAs, and would not follow the in-class arrangements detailed on student SoRAs. The more I investigated this issue, the wider spread and more apparent the problem became. Not only did I immediately flag this up with staff, I brought this to an SSCC meeting in which staff promised to amend this issue. They assured the representatives that staff had been reminded to reacquaint themselves with students' SoRAs and would be reminding all staff regularly at DTCs."
- CLIE rep
"I can't go into too much detail due to the specifics surrounding this issue, but there was an issue with one of the students harassing many other
students, and the reps picked up on this very quickly, liaised with the relevant staff, and took action against this student. We have now minimised the effect of this student on the overall wellbeing of the student body by taking the relevant steps, despite central UCL stating there is nothing they can do since this harassment occurred on outside of UCL grounds (on whatsapp). I would advise future reps to ignore this advice and continue to stamp out all harassment and bullying. If UCL is not supportive with this, many of the staff at the ICH are."
- ICH rep
"The topic on everyone’s minds when we started the 2020/2021 academic year was isolation, loneliness, lack of peer connection, and the stress of doing a masters from home. In order to tackle these issues we created a departmental collaborative playlist on Spotify, and had weekly happy hours and study sessions on teams, where students (and staff!) could come and share/rant about their experiences and just generally have a chat (and a drink if they fancied). We also made sure that we were in continual contact with our peer groups throughout the year, and that any feedback was taken to the SSCC, or was addressed immediately and directly with course coordinators."
- Anthropology Rep
"I spearheaded a ChangeMakers project to start a student peer support service, where volunteer students receive mental health training and can then help support their fellow students. Although uptake was slow, feedback was positive so we're continuing it into next term to see if the uptake increases if it is introduced at the start of the term."
- Medicine Rep
"Because this year has been entirely contained in a pandemic, I focused my role on improving the mental health support services available at UCL. Through campaigning, we increased the capacity of UCL psychological services, reducing waiting times. We reported feedback from students about their experience of using these services and what could be improved e.g. being informed about EC forms and SORAs within counselling sessions."
- Medical Sciences Rep
"I have put forward staff training for the year commencing 2021/2022 to raise awareness of mental health and how to help students. With SORAs myself and many other students have wished for years that there was a way staff could be made aware of non-exam arrangements e.g. needing to leave the room in tutorials due to a panic attack but they don’t currently have access to those arrangements which makes SORAs redundant outside of essay and exam extensions. I have raised this to the committee and campaigned for SORAs to be made more accessible to TAs and teaching staff so that student’s can be accommodated better. I have also drafted up a list of ways the department could be made more accessible for mental health. I also identified that some kind of mental health communications could be good for students, and Antonia plans to incorporate a shared space on the Anthropology newsletter for EDI reps to contribute to - we envisioned maybe some instagram infographics, maybe a space to announce awareness/support events or some positive quotes. Finally, I have worked to shape the mental health EDI webpage with a list of resources that could be beneficial for students suffering from mental health issues."
- Anthropology Rep