NUSU's Health and Wellbeing update

Jack distributing condoms for SHAG Supporting you and your wellbeing!

Improving your health and wellbeing is something we take very seriously at NUSU. This academic year, in addition to NUSU continuing to encourage AU Clubs and Student Societies to introduce Welfare Officers, we have campaigned and been involved in a number of projects and events that have aimed to keep you healthy and supported during your time at University:

Mission Nutrition

Last November, Mission Nutrition focussed on making sure you eat properly before and after exercise.  Whether you play sports regularly or are more of a spontaneous exerciser, knowing what foods you need to look after your body and refuel it properly is key. 

Events during the week included breakfast food, free healthy ‘Soup in a Bag’ and a nutrition and lifestyle tips talk. Led by your AU Officer, Maggie Elstob, the campaign also hoped to influence the student food offer when the new Sports Centre opens. The 270 students who took part in Mission Nutrition will be surveyed and the results reported back to the Sports Centre staff.

SHAG (Sexual Health, Awareness and Guidance).

Led by your Welfare & Equality Officer, this year’s SHAG campaign aimed to reduce the number of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) on campus as up to a quarter of students may catch an STI during their time at university.

Featuring the strapline ‘Catch Feel[ing]s, not STIs’, this year’s SHAG included:

  • Free condoms,
  • Clubs and Societies STI Testing competition  
  • SHAG Pub Quiz
  • LGBT+ Sexual Health (LGBT+ Society) information stall
  • Shine information stall (Women’s Community Health Project)
  • SHAG Bingo Revolution Night

With £200 up for grabs the STI competition saw record numbers of STI tests taken.  64 clubs and societies got involved and 540 tests were taken. The top 5 were……..

  1. Musical Medics 82% of their members were tested.
  2. Cheerleading 76%
  3. Athletics X Country 45% 
  4. Ice Hockey 38% 
  5. Women’s Basketball 30%.

The testing was also available to students not a member of a club or society.

Additional STI testing events are popping up throughout the year including the end of exams, St Patrick’s Day.  During Refreshers Fair, Fiona Cunningham (Campaigns Assistant) led an information area with a focus on hepatitis. One of our future aims will be to develop the campaign further and introduce blood tests to test for other STIs including herpes, hepatitis, HIV and syphilis.  Information is available all year and is located here.   

Drug and Alcohol

Back in Freshers’ Week, we launched a yearlong Drug and Alcohol campaign which included digital messages featuring practical advice and our Welfare Tent which provided support and information for new and returning students.

This campaign aims to:

  • Reduce the immediate harm that excessive drink and drug taking can have and promote the importance of personal safety and the safety of those around you.
  • Highlight and tackle the affect that alcohol and drugs can have on the wider community.
  • Provide Sports clubs and NUSU Societies with the information, tools and support they need to organise the events that their members enjoy while staying clear of dangerous situations.
  • Establish long-term positive relationships with local authorities, agencies, promoters and licensees in the city.

NUSU Officers are also actively involved in the University Initiations Working Group to tackle dangerous behaviour with an education and welfare focus.

S.O.S (Stressed Out Students)

While mental health and wellbeing remains a top priority in our work, there is a concentrated focus on wellbeing during the exam periods.  The S.O.S campaign offers practical support to help students get through what can be a very stressful time.  Free Fruit, Flashcards, stress management information, holistic therapies and welfare signposting were available across campus in Students’ Union, Libraries the USB and Business School.

One student told us that the free resources helped them by “giving us more motivation and energy to do well and keep ourselves healthy”.

Step Change

Jack Green (Welfare and Equality Officer) and other key staff members are involved in the Student Mental Wellbeing and Step Change Task and Finish Group.

Student mental health continues to be a major concern across higher education and this had led to the publication of a number of significant papers in recent months.  One of the most pertinent of these is the ‘UUK Step Change report’, which explores student mental health needs within UK Universities. The report proposes a framework to meet the reported ever-increasing numbers and severity of student mental ill-health cases.

The group’s overarching aim will be to enhance mental ill-health prevention and support for all students and will inform how we support staff in their interactions with students.

Time to Talk day

Your Voice hosted a free cake and coffee event in Luther’s during the national Time to Talk day asking the question “would you know where to go to if you need extra support?” We discovered that the majority of students we talked to are aware of University services and those who had used Wellbeing services felt that they had been supported through difficult times.  

We also learnt that you found the Watch your Head to wellbeing workshops valuable and that aftercare was a worry for some of you. This feedback will help us in future projects and campaigns as well as the work undertaken by the Step Change Project.

National Campaigns

In addition to the on-campus activity we have supported national campaigns in raising awareness about particular health issues.  These campaigns have included:

  • Cervical Cancer Week
  • Eating Disorders Week
  • Suicide Prevention days
  • No Smoking Day.

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