People and Culture

Her Campus caught up with the Uni ‘People and Culture’ blog, and learned about the events they are running for ‘The Month of the Mind’.

What does your blog feature? What can a reader expect to find?

Our blog includes information about University activities relating to equality, diversity and inclusion, wellbeing, dignity, and positive engagement, particularly in relation to being a staff member but often also relating to students, alumni, business partners and other members of the University of Nottingham community. Blogs could be written by any member of the University community and often reflect on events that are upcoming or have recently taken place.

How often do you post?

We try to post several times a month, but sometimes we will have several items at once or none for a while because a lot of our activities are centred around campaigns for things like LGBT or Black History Month, or our own University programmes Disability December and Month of the Mind, as well as our gender equality programme, Athena SWAN.

Is it a student run blog?

No, it is run by the People and Culture team, who are part of Human Resources.  The People and Culture programme aims to build and sustain a workplace for University staff which is characterised by wellbeing, dignity, positive engagement and strong values around equality, diversity and inclusion.  Our posts are about University activities and events that relate to any of these topics, to help showcase the University’s commitment and values around these important areas of University culture.   Although primarily aimed at staff, we know that our staff create the University environment that students experience, and that we all learn from each other, so it’s important that we have a range of activities that either are directly open to students, or focus on staff who work with all our community members.  We love to have guest blogs so if students are involved in culture-related activities that they would like to include, we’d love to hear from them!

It was recently Mental Health Awareness Week, did you organise any events?

Yes, we actually have expanded Mental Health Awareness Week into what we call ‘Month of the Mind’ where we focus not only on mental and emotional health, but also on neurodiversity and conditions such as dementia, which is important to us as a Dementia-Friendly University.   We kicked off with a Wellbeing Conference in collaboration with the University of Birmingham, which had a strong focus on mental health, resilience and mindfulness, and included a keynote speech from Caroline Hounsell of Mental Health First Aid England.  We’re looking forward to welcoming her back in July for another talk.

In Mental Health Awareness Week itself we had a spoken-word event at a local record shop and café ‘Rough Trade,’ where poets and performers from across the region shared their experiences and stories with a very supportive crowd.  We held this in the evening and off-campus because not all community members feel comfortable coming to mental health events on-campus, or are available during ‘office hours’ if they have children or other caring responsibilities.  We also had U.S. scholar Margaret Glen facilitate a session on ‘Bibliotherapy: Reading for Mental Health’ on the relationship between reading, reflective thinking and resilience. Some of our schools also held their own local events which relate to mental health whether directly or indirectly – for example, the School of Chemistry hosted a lecture which touched on the challenges that LGBT+ students can face, which can include mental health impacts. We also have other events coming up later this month, including a free family-friendly screening of Pixar’s ‘Inside Out’ at Broadway cinema, and a talk on Designing Spaces for Wellness on our main campus.

Will you be running any future events in relation to mental health?

We are currently working to develop a Mental Health First Aid programme, hence we are looking forward to the return of Caroline Hounsell from MHFA England, and as well as our annual Month of the Mind programme we have “Disability December” which often includes mental health awareness and support activities, such as discussions on managing anxiety. Our Professional Development team also deliver courses on mindfulness, resilience and stress management.

Do you put on any other events in relation to current issues?

As already mentioned, we have a full Events Calendar that creates space for discussion, celebration or awareness of diverse identities, cultures and experiences.  This comprises events delivered by colleagues across the University, including our schools and services but also our staff networks, such as the BME Staff Network, LGBTQ+ Staff Network and Women’s Staff Network.  We also run events for carers and our chaplaincy team hold events relating to spiritual issues.  In partnership with our Disabled Staff Network we also hold a leadership programme for disabled staff, Calibre.  We’re also keen to further develop links with our Students Union, and have collaborated in the past on events relating to gender equality, such as the He for She campaign and for Ada Lovelace Day.

Have you got anything planned for the near future? In town/on campus?

Our next event is the screening of ‘Inside Out’ at Broadway, which is a great, fun film but also one which has won plaudits for helping start conversations about mental health, and addressing stigma through enabling even young children to start to have vocabulary to understand and verbalise these issues in an age-appropriate way.

How could someone get involved with the blog?

Please email us at [email protected]

Edited by Jess Shelton