Stress Awareness Month

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Stress Awareness Month this April encourages us to reassess our daily habits to make sure we’re safeguarding our mental health as best we can.

Mental wellbeing doesn’t have one set meaning. We might use it to talk about how we feel, how well we’re coping with daily life or what feels possible at the moment.

We’ve all felt the effects of stress and although short term pressures can be motivating, not addressing excessive strain can have a huge impact on our mental and physical health. Living with high levels of stress can be incredibly damaging and we all need to be able to identify the individual causes so we’re aware of the steps we can take to reduce it.

You can self-refer to the University’s Occupational Health Service if you are looking for advice and support about the impact of work or stress on your mental and physical health: Occupational Health Service

Encouraging conversations

The best way to understand and combat feelings of stress is to talk about it. Sometimes it can be difficult to know what to say, especially if you’re trying to help someone else. You don’t need any special training to show you care. Here are some things to remember:

  • Listen. Simply giving someone space to talk and listening to how they’re feeling, without judgement or necessarily trying to offer any solutions, can be hugely beneficial. If they’re finding it difficult to open up, let them know that you’re there when they’re ready.
  • Offer reassurance. Seeking help can feel lonely, and sometimes scary. You can reassure someone by letting them know that they are not alone, and that you will be there to help.
  • Stay calm. Even though it might be upsetting to hear that someone is distressed, try to stay calm. This will help your friend, family member or colleague feel calmer too.
  • Be patient. You might want to know more details about their thoughts and feelings, or want them to get help immediately. However, it’s important to let them set the pace for seeking support themselves.
  • Try not to make assumptions. Your perspective might be useful, but try not to assume that you already know what may have caused their feelings, or what will help.
  • Check in with them regularly. Part of the emotional support you offer could be to keep things as normal as possible.
  • Conversation prompts When speaking to someone about their mental health and wellbeing, try using simple conversation prompts that go beyond how are you? such as:
    • How are you coping?
    • What has been the best part of your week so far?
    • What have you been reflecting on since we spoke?

Support for staff

The University also has a range of services for any member of staff who wishes to use them if they don’t want to speak to their immediate colleagues.

If you need urgent help, please call 999 or check out these webpages:

Help in a Crisis



The Staff Counselling Service is free to all staff. This year all staff also have access to further counselling appointments through the introduction of the Employee Assistance Programme.

Colleagues who wish to access counselling through the EAP can experience much shorter waiting times:

Counselling through the Employee Assistance Programme

Staff Counselling Service


The University Listening Service 

The Chaplaincy runs the University Listening Service daily in the week. They offer confidential, non-judgemental listening, help in time of crisis and signposting to specialist sources of help (including faith contacts if you wish).

Support is available in person, by phone, email or video conversation. The Listening Service operates through the University Chaplaincy, for staff or students who want to touch base on any concerns or anxieties, or are looking for a timely or purposeful conversation. Conversations can be held in a variety of places, even over coffee or a walk.

The Listening Service

Chaplaincy Service 


Self-help resources

The University also offers access to a range of self-help resources for those who might not feel comfortable sharing how they feel at the moment.

  • Togetherall is an online support network for staff and students, with professionally trained guides ensuring the safety and anonymity of all members: Togetherall 
  • The Feeling Good App can reduce stress, depression and anxiety, and calm the body and mind. The app is free for all staff and students and provides positive mental training through a self-help programme: Feeling Good App 
  • SilverCloud offers free mental health treatment programmes based around Cognitive Behavioural Therapy: SilverCloud
  • The Let’s Talk podcast is a new series bringing together different members of the University community to have honest and thought-provoking conversations about mental health. Each episode is hosted by our Chaplain, Harriet Harris, and features discussions between students and staff talking about a range of mental health topics, from loneliness and depression to imposter syndrome and a fear of failure: Let’s Talk Podcast


The University is committed to developing a working environment and working practices which help maintain and improve staff health and wellbeing. Colleagues across the University are working hard to constantly improve the support and services we can offer, taking on board new projects and suggestions from our community. If you would like to make a suggestion, please email

You can find about more about resources available on the Staff Wellbeing hub.

Images: Sam Sills