Worcester Helps to Lead the Way in Supporting Vulnerable Students

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The University of Worcester is helping to lead the way in a campaign to support students with mental health difficulties.


The University, which was one of the first to establish specialist mental health counselling, is working with a number of partners on the Suicide Safer initiative, led by one of the foremost practitioners in early intervention, Professor Jo Smith, who works for both the University and Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust.


The initiative is being launched on Wednesday [September 10th ], which marks World Suicide Prevention Day, and is designed to ensure students at university who have mental health problems get the support they need early, before their emotional wellbeing deteriorates.


John Ryan, Pro Vice Chancellor (Students) at the University, and Chair of the Worcestershire Suicide Safer Project Group, said: “The University of Worcester is proud to be taking the lead on this important initiative. At Worcester we have excellent counselling and pastoral care for our students and thankfully incidents of student suicides are extremely rare. We want to share the good work that has been going on here with other universities and agencies in order to help young people across the country.


“Suicide affects mostly young people between the ages of 14 and 35, of which most university students fall square into. We think it’s incredibly important to be raising this issue and to be talking about mental health more widely.”


The initiative also pulls in support from independent agencies and charities, alongside representatives from local Government, the NHS and the University, who, together have formed a project team to deliver the vision for Suicide Safer. As well as supporting vulnerable students, it also ensures staff and other students are educated to look out for telling signs that someone may be experiencing suicidal thoughts and needs help.


The initiative has also formed effective links with the Alliance for Suicide Prevention Charities, which is made up of a number of charities established by relatives of students across the country who have taken their own lives, including the James Wentworth-Stanley Memorial Fund, Mind, Rethink Mental Illness and the Samaritans.


Professor Smith, who will be delivering the keynote speech at the International Suicide Prevention Conference in Belfast in November, said: “One of the keys to suicide prevention is maintaining wellbeing and early intervention to prevent the downward spiral that, in some cases, can lead to suicidal thoughts. The most important things is for people to talk and feel that their concerns are listened to and that they are helped to see that suicide is not inevitable and that there is hope and recovery from where they may be just now.


“I am excited to have been given the opportunity to lead on the Suicide Safer initiative in Worcestershire working with partners in Health, County Council and third sector organisations like Samaritans. Worcester is one of a small number of universities nationally with a suicide prevention strategy and we are working with other universities and national charitable organisations to develop a number of initiatives locally including a Nightline service, awareness training and support for students and staff and planning community outreach into local schools and colleges.”