Mental Health Awareness Week

Reading time: 4 minutes
Mental Health Awareness Week provides an opportunity for us to reassess our own mental health. Running from 9 to 15 May, it also encourages us to keep an eye out for others who may need support.

After navigating two years of a global pandemic, it’s no surprise that the theme chosen by the Mental Health Foundation this year is loneliness. Feeling connected and supporting each other is more important than ever to help us safeguard our mental wellbeing all year round.

Here, Bulletin shares resources offered by the University which are available to everyone, whether you feel lonely yourself, or want to support someone else who might be experiencing this.

Where to find help for yourself

Sometimes recognising that you’re not feeling quite right can be difficult, and wondering what to do next can often feel like a huge hurdle. There are lots of different kinds of resources available to staff, no matter what kind of support you might need.


Talk to someone

Two people sit with coffee and a scone. The photo shows their hands and bodies only

There are several services available to staff who would like someone to talk to. Staff Counselling offer sessions to all staff and are also currently working in partnership with an Employee Assistance Programme to offer additional free services to anyone who needs it. Also available is the Listening Service at the Chaplaincy, which is open to everyone regardless of their religious practices, including those who don’t have any. Drop by or call anytime for a more informal chat.

Staff Wellbeing hub: Speak to someone


Self-help resources

The University has a large range of free self-help tools too. Particularly helpful for those feeling lonely is Togetherall, an online support network. Available around the clock, the network includes community, group and one-to-one support, with professionally trained guides ensuring the safety and anonymity of all members. You can also access clinical tests and a broad range of self-care resources.

Staff Wellbeing hub: Self-help


Five ways to wellbeing

Something else to bear in mind are the five ways to wellbeing. Evidence suggests there are five steps we can all take to improve our mental health. One of these steps is to remember to connect with the people around you including family, friends, colleagues and neighbours. It’s important to invest time in developing these relationships.

There are a range of podcasts hosted by members of the University community that can help you feel connected. Some examples are:

Let’s Talk

Sharing Things

Getting involved in the University or local community can be a great way to feel connected to people and the world around you. Groups to consider include, community projects, and the staff networks which all centre around a shared goal, interest or experience.

Staff wellbeing hub: five ways to wellbeing


How to help others

It can be tricky when you know somebody is out of sorts, but you’re not sure what you can do to help them. Looking out for each other can include all sorts of actions, from big to small. The University offers a range of support for those who want to help those around them.


Mental Health Awareness Course

To raise awareness of mental health and mental health issues and illnesses, a Mental Health Awareness online course is available to all staff.

This course will support your approach to mental health by:

  • Providing an overview of mental ill health and the signs to look out for.
  • Providing tools to improve wellbeing.
  • Encouraging you to talk about mental health.
  • Explaining how you can offer support to your colleagues.
  • Signposting you to University of Edinburgh mental health and wellbeing support and UK mental health services.

Staff wellbeing hub: mental health training


Facilitating mental health and wellbeing conversations at work

Team meetings can be an opportunity to give each person, including yourself, space to share what’s happening for them and how they are doing. Making time to discuss these topics can encourage a healthy discussion around mental health. Avoiding covering specific points allows people more freedom in when and what they share and encourages an honest discussion. Managers can try leading wellbeing group discussions with your immediate team and use one-to-ones to follow up with individuals. Tools and guidance are available for those who want to begin regular conversations.

Staff wellbeing hub: wellbeing conversations


Small actions

Sometimes, it’s the smallest actions that can make the biggest difference. Undertaking formal training isn’t the only way to be able to show someone you care. Sometimes, going out of your way to ask someone how they’re doing and encouraging them to get involved in something can be hugely beneficial.

One option for all colleagues is to take part in the feel good walks run by Sport and Exercise. Their walks encourage making new friends, enjoying some headspace and improving general fitness.

Walking has a whole range of benefits including improving your mood and reducing anxiety and depression. Getting out and about in green spaces and fresh air really helps to clear your head. Plus, most importantly, walking as part of a small group can make you feel connected, build friendships and create a sense of belonging which is why these walks can especially help combat social isolation and loneliness.

Sport and Exercise: health walks


You can find out more about Mental Health Awareness Week on the Mental Health Foundation website.

Explore these resources and more on the Staff Wellbeing Hub.

Photography: Sam Sills; Andrew Perry