Safeguarding Students: Addressing Mental Health Needs

  • Tuesday, 26 November 2019
  • The Bridgewater Hall, Manchester
  • 08:30 - 16:25
Expert Speakers
Sponsors & Supporters
  • Overview

Open Forum will be holding a follow-up event to our Improving Student Mental Health Outcomes conference, with a focus on topics raised in feedback from delegates that attended the previous event.

May's event facilitated a wide discussion on institutional cultures and practical, strategic approaches towards safeguarding students, including; the importance of preventative care earlier in life to develop resilience in children and young people before they reach FE/HE, assessing pitfalls in the transition from living at home to living at university, addressing student suicide rates and integrating the science of compassion into HE curriculums. 

This conference will expand the conversation to include dedicated keynotes and panel discussions covering:

  • Parity of esteem between data and human protection; is data protection prioritised over student safety.   
  • The considerable impact of poor student finance provision on young people's mental health - how can legislators improve access to fiscal support at university.
  • The impact of drug use on student MH.    
  • Innovative new ideas assisted by emerging technologies that are providing platforms for universities to identify mental health issues before they become a crisis.
  • How social media compounds perfectionist thinking.         
  • Effective language that can be used to engage students with concepts of mindfulness, emotional resilience and positive psychology. 
  • The importance halls of residence, HE estates and facilities play in promoting positive mental health outcomes. 
  • Overcoming barriers to care that are unique to FE/HE; such as students accessing therapy on campus but returning home for summer - or recognising the difficulty staff face in supporting students who are far from home.  
  • Confirmed Speakers

  • Event Programme


Registration & Coffee in the Networking Area


Morning Chair's Opening Address

  • Annabelle Howard, Second Year Film & English Student, University of Bristol (confirmed)

Keynote Address

"Student Mental Health: What is Happening, Why it's Happening and What We Can All Do to Support Students"

Do you ever wonder why so many teenagers and young people are struggling with mental health issues? Would you like to know how every one of us can better support young people’s wellbeing? At a time of rising psychological distress in young adults, university GP and leading UK student mental health expert, Dr Dominique Thompson shares her experience of caring for thousands of students over 20 years, and challenges us all to help the next generation feel well, live happily and achieve their potential.


Dominique offers a fresh perspective and thought provoking insights for university staff,  parents, teachers, and for young people themselves, on the impact of 21st century culture changes on the younger generation, throughout the world.


Student Testimonial

  • Annabelle Howard, Second Year Film & English Student, University of Bristol (confirmed)

Annabelle, a Film & English Studies student at the University of Bristol will draw on her own experiences and those of her peers to outline how information given to students in secondary school and further education creates misconceptions of university - creating immense pressures before they have even set foot on campus. Annabelle's presentation will cover some of the following issues through the prism of how they have impacted students at her university:

  • The myth of perfectionism
  • Pressures of independent study
  • Contemporary significance of degrees and the misconstrued value of individual assignments
  • How the university environment can exacerbate issues and possible ways in which university mental health policy could be tailored to combat the challenges
  • Dr Leah Moyle, Lecturer, Royal Holloway University of London (confirmed)
"#Drugsforsale and Student Transitions into Drug Supply"

Dr Leah Moyle has worked on two research papers that spotlight the changing nature of drug markets, drug dealing and cultures of drug use amongst young people. Leah's articles '#Drugsforsale: An exploration of the use of social media and encrypted messaging apps to supply and access drugs' (the first academic investigation into mobile apps in drug markets) and 'Student transitions into drug supply: exploring the university as a risk environment' asses multiple factors in how young people access drugs and how university can compound cultural and environmental conditions that lead students to becoming regular drug users.


Leah's presentation will integrate findings from both papers, including:

  • How apps like WhatsApp, Instagram, Tinder and Snapchat are providing new, easier routes to supplying and accessing drugs at university.
  • How distance from guardians, the interconnected nature of student populace and financial insecurity can contribute to facilitating transitions of otherwise non-criminal populations into drug use and supply.

Case Study

"Peer Support - A Resource to Promote Positive Mental Health and Wellbeing for Students"

Megan’s presentation will offer refreshing insight into the benefits of utilising peer support as a means to tackle the growing demand for improving student wellbeing.


The transition into higher education is a significant milestone that presents new challenges and emotional pressures and with the stigma lifting and society as a whole being more aware of positive mental health and wellbeing, it’s important for Universities to reflect the same mindset.


Student lives are fast paced and under high pressure, cluttered by online networking where they feel the need to be plugged into social media 24/7 and have an underlying fear of missing out. High profile campaigns effectively raise awareness however, health services and University support channels are overloaded and cannot cater for the growing demand. The presentation will delve into the benefits of delivering a practical, preventative solution that alleviates and complements existing University support services, providing a scalable student enrichment opportunity. Megan will also explore a framework for improving self-awareness, emotional resilience and personal growth through real human interaction; an early intervention to ensure students can thrive and succeed in higher education.


 To learn more, visit


An estimated 1.25 million people in the UK have an eating disorder, serious mental illnesses that are often poorly understood. They are not ‘diets gone wrong’, narcissistic, fads or phases, but illnesses that cause devastating consequences for those suffering and the people that care for them.


Anorexia nervosa has the highest mortality rate of any mental illness, and when eating disorders are not fatal, damage to organ systems, fertility issues, a higher risk of heart problems, type 2 diabetes and loss of bone density are just some of the severe long-term physical health consequences sufferers can be left with. Despite the severity of these illnesses, those in need of treatment often don’t find it quickly enough, resulting in an average cycle of relapse and recovery lasting six years, causing unnecessary financial cost and emotional distress to sufferers and their families and placing avoidable additional cost on the public purse.


University is an exciting time but can also be a time of significant change and pressure. Students who are vulnerable can develop an eating disorder; students who already have one may find it gets worse. The university environment can mask symptoms and make it harder for students to stay connected to treatment services and their support network.


The presentation will highlight some of the difficulties students face when seeking support and treatment for an eating disorder at University, hear from a Beat Ambassador on dealing with the illness whilst studying and what role staff and students can play in ensuring someone receives treatment as soon as possible.

  • Lee Fryatt, Inspector, Hampshire Constabulary (confirmed)

Lee is an Inspector with Hampshire Constabulary with 30 years of operational experience, including responding to critical incidents, youth offending and police custody management. He has broad experience of responding to people suffering with mental health conditions who are at a point of crisis in their life.


Lee’s family has been personally affected by the devastating effect of suicide, when in September 2018 his eldest son, Daniel ended his own life just after starting University.


“Daniel’s death was an immense shock and tragedy that has forever changed us as a family. The trauma of suicide is life changing and will never really leave us but we hope that by contributing to the debate and working with Universities more can be done to identify, support and respond to students with Mental Health problems and provide a better response during crisis points for students in the future”


Question and Answer Session


Coffee in the Networking Area

  • Dr Theo Gilbert, SFHEA, Associate Professor, Learning and Teaching, University of Hertfordshire (confirmed)
  • Andrew Marunchak, Senior E-Learning Technology Developer, University of Hertfordshire (confirmed)

Dr. Theo Gilbert and Andrew Marunchak, both based at the University of Hertfordshire, will present on further progress that has been made towards training students and staff in the micro skills of compassion via a multi user virtual reality simulation since the first Improving Student Mental Health Outcomes conference in May,


This training is based on fast emerging scholarship on compassion - from neuroscience, clinical psychology and anthropology - that demonstrates how compassion (noticing the distress or disadvantaging of oneself or others, and acting to reduce or prevent that) is an entirely practical motivation (not an emotion) and that it enhances  interpersonal dynamics and quality of subject-related decision-making and critical thinking in task-focused groups.


The micro skills of compassion are therefore now credit bearing on some degree programmes in HE, and this is expected to develop quickly in the next ten years as the underpinning science continues to grow. Indeed, findings in this area have increased demand amongst universities for training in these skills and this has given rise to the impetus for such training to be delivered through VR. The presentation will include clips of video footage from within the simulation to demonstrate the experience and advocacy of this learning experience to audiences.

  • Ben Channon, Associate, Assael Architecture (confirmed)
"Impact of the Built Environment on Student Mental Health"

Ben Channon's recently published book 'Happy by Design: A Guide to Architecture and Mental Wellbeing' asks; can good design truly make us happier? Ben argues that given we spend over 80% of our time in buildings, shouldn't we have a better understanding of how they make us feel?


In his presentation, Ben will explore how the built environment of FE/HE facilities, estates and halls of residence impact student mental health - how can the architectural design of HE facilities and estates make students and faculty happy whilst supporting mental health?

"Fostering 'Response-ability' in Young People"

The premise of response-ability comes from Greek philosopher Epictetus' understanding that 'People are disturbed not by things but by the view they take of them.' 


Hence, the key to psychological health is not to avoid challenging situations; but rather to choose an effective attitude towards them. This insight is the basis of the A-B-C Model of Emotional Health:


A = the ‘Activating Event’ eg. being dropped by a university sports team;

B = the ‘Belief’ ie. the attitude the person takes towards this event – what they ‘tell themselves’ about it; and

C = the ‘Consequence’ eg. anger, despair, giving-up – or a determination to train harder and earn re-selection.


Clearly, the ‘Consequence’ is determined not by the Activating Event itself, but rather by the ‘Beliefs’ and self-talk that the person subsequently engages in at point ‘B’.


For example, if the student activates Beliefs along the lines of: ‘This is so unfair! I absolutely must be picked for the first team! It’s awful that I haven’t been – and I never want to play again!’ they will generate a great deal of upset. Equally, if, instead, they activate Beliefs along the lines of: ‘It’s disappointing not to have been chosen for the first team; but other players deserve a chance to play too - and I if I train extra hard, I might be selected for the next match’, they will generate positive feelings of motivation instead.


John will talk about how to foster ‘response-ability’ in young people and help universities to develop and become ‘Response-ability Champions’.


Case Study

Matt Hatcher, Business Development Manager, Morneau Shepell (confirmed)

Morneau Shepell is a leading global counseling organisation. Morneau Shepell's My SSP: Student Support Program leverages technology to integrate with college and university campus support systems, providing 24/7 mental health and cultural acclimation resources to international and domestic students in their native languages. Support is accessible via phone, web, app, and chat. Our licensed clinicians speak over 30 languages.
Morneau Shepell's My SSP: Student Support Program aims to reduce stigma and extend university support, resources, and crisis response to meet all students, wherever they are and at all times.


Question and Answer Session


Lunch in the Networking Area


Afternoon Chair's Address

Cllr Martin Judd, Deputy Portfolio Holder for Economy and Enterprise, Oldham Council and University Student

  • Alan Percy, Head of Counselling, University of Oxford (confirmed)

Alongside his remit as Head of Counselling at the University of Oxford, Alan Percy is Chair of both the Executive Committee for the Heads of University Counselling Services and the Mental Wellbeing in Higher Education Working Group. Alan is a well-published writer across topics pertinent to supporting student mental health, such as; the impact of outsourcing services, counteracting perfectionism, supporting students during exam periods and the different MH challenges faced by undergraduate/postgraduate students.   


Professor Richard Hall, in collaboration with Professor Kate Bowles at Australia's Wollongong University, authored the article 'Re-engineering Higher Education: The Subsumption of Academic Labour and the Exploitation of Anxiety' for the Workplace journal. The essay analyses the political economy of higher education, in terms of Marx and Engels’ conception of subsumption. It addresses the twin processes of formal and real subsumption, in terms of the re-engineering of the governance of higher education and the re-production of academic labour in the name of value. 


In his presentation, Professor Hall will elaborate on how neoliberal marketisation of HE are driving universities to becoming anxiety machines. 


Case Study

  • Noel McDermott, Chief Executive Officer, Psychotherapy and Consultancy Ltd. (confirmed)

Noel’s presentation will explore relational systems and groups and the impact this has on mental illness or wellness.


He will look at the individual as a social animal and explore definitions of health and ill health from this perspective - not the now traditional  ‘health’ model; which sees these things situated in the individual only. One of the unhealthiest states to be in is in fact an isolated individual. Typically serious social isolation will lead to a reduction in life expectancy, increase in mental illness, physical illness, anti-social behaviours. Living an emotionally connected social life is the treatment to these illnesses.


The presentation will explore how non specialist mental health professionals and also mental health professionals can utilise social health and healthy systems to treat mental illness. It will explore it in the context of the radical changes in mental health care in the UK since the introduction of care In the community in the 1980’s.


The UK now delivers mental health through community not institution, and what does that mean for the education community, as need seems to be increasing - how do we support that need and avoid splitting off the people who we label as the 'patient'. The presentation will look at this within the framework of inclusion and human rights. 


Case Study

  • Dr Sarah Carlick, International Digital Safeguarding Expert, The Athena Programme (confirmed)
"Safeguarding Students: A Safer Culture and the Students Union"

Question and Answer Session

  • Alan Percy, Head of Counselling, University of Oxford (confirmed)
  • Professor Richard Hall, Professor of Education and Technology, De Montfort University (confirmed)
  • Noel McDermott, Chief Executive Officer, Psychotherapy and Consultancy Ltd. (confirmed)
  • Dr Sarah Carlick, International Digital Safeguarding Expert, The Athena Programme (confirmed)

Chair's Closing Remarks & Event Close

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Jonathan Smith
  • Hear from FE/HE institutes, mental health service providers, public, voluntary and third sector organisations about steps being taken to improve mental health outcomes on campus.
  • Explore how wider determinants such as social media, withdrawal of student grants/education maintenance allowance, rising living costs and unaffordable housing contribute to mental health issues.
  • Learn how drug use impacts student MH - as well as assessing the immediate and long-term dangers of student's dealing drugs. 
  • Develop understanding of contemporary discussions taking place around student MH, such as the parity of esteem between data protection and human safety.    
  • Listen to case studies of practical implementation of key policy, service and safeguarding recommendations.
  • Explore initiatives spearheaded by data and emerging technologies that are revolutionising institutional approaches to interventions.   
  • Discuss how to overcome barriers to care that are unique to FE/HE.
  • Benefit from sharing lived experiences with mental health challenges and subsequent campaigns that are driving transformational change in FE/HE curriculum's and laying the groundwork for early-years preventative interventions.
  • Network and knowledge-share with domestic and international peers, students, NHS service leaders, stakeholders from public, voluntary and third sector organisations; developing shared solutions to common MH challenges.
  • Learn about implementing best practices from HEIs that have developed new strategies for addressing student mental health concerns following institute-wide consultation.
  • Explore how legislators, commissions and APPGs are developing policy responses to loneliness on campus'.
  • Develop effective communication techniques that can be used to engage students with concepts of mindfulness, emotional resilience and positive psychology.
  • Gain the maximum number of 6 CPD points.
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  • Downloads
  • Who will attend

Contact Details




The Bridgewater Hall, Manchester

The Bridgewater Hall, Manchester

Construction of The Bridgewater Hall commenced on 22 March 1993, but the idea of a new concert hall for Manchester dates back to the reconstruction of the Free Trade Hall in the 1950s after wartime bomb damage. The Free Trade Hall was home to the city’s famous Hallé orchestra and also hosted rock and pop concerts. However, despite holding great public affection, the 1850s Free Trade Hall was ill-equipped to respond to the rising standards of service and acoustic excellence demanded by performers and audiences.

Featured Events

  • Improving Student Mental Health Outcomes

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    • 10:00 - 16:05
    • Mary Ward House Conference & Exhibition Centre, London

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who will attend

  • Associate Head's of Student Experience
  • ASYE Coordinator's
  • Audit and Assurance Consultant's
  • Casework Manager's
  • Clinical Placement Facilitator's
  • Community Fundraising Officer's
  • Counsellor's
  • Dean's
  • Director's of Graduate Taught Programmes
  • Director's of Graduate Taught Programmes
  • Director's of Undergraduate Programmes
  • Director's of Undergraduate Programmes
  • GP's
  • Head of Study Guidance Service's
  • Head's of Faculty
  • Head's of Inclusive Student Support Services
  • Head's of Products and Partnerships
  • Head's of Programme Support
  • Head's of Student Services
  • Head's of Student Support
  • Head's of Student Wellbeing and Welfare
  • Learning Support Lecturer's
  • Mental Health Advisor's
  • Mental health and well-being coordinator's
  • Mental Health Mentor's
  • Mental Health Support Worker's
  • Mental Wellbeing Services Manager's
  • Placement coordinator's
  • Practice Placement Development worker's
  • Quality Improvement Manager's
  • Senior Patient Educator Tutor's
  • Senior Practice Development Sister's
  • Staff Nurse's
  • Student Support Officer's
  • Student Welfare Officer's
  • Studentship Alliance Manager's
  • Studentship Officer's
  • Support & Compliance Manager's
  • Transformation Support Coach's
  • UG Student Support Administrator's
  • Vice Dean's (Education)