Caitlin Wood is running in the 2021 SU elections for the role of Welfare and Wellbeing Officer. Impact’s Lilith Hudson caught up with her to ask a few questions.
What do you think makes you a good fit for this role?
I have experience in advocating for mental health, welfare, and wellbeing for a diverse range of people. I have completed podcasts for those who may be struggling containing advice, positive thinking strategies and coping mechanisms, as well as taking part in Public Speaking competitions in which I have spoken about the representation of disabled people and minorities in the media and how discriminative attitudes can affect their welfare and wellbeing.
The University needs a friendly and approachable officer for this role, who students can easily identify with. I feel I have the balance between having fun in the role as well as genuinely making a serious and positive difference to the welfare and wellbeing of students, especially in a post-covid society.
I’m keen to connect with students in identifying how we can improve welfare and wellbeing support services and have many plans for the future in bringing an innovative and creative flair to accessing the services within the University. I love meeting and working with new people, advocating for those around me and understanding ways to make a positive change to people’s lives, therefore I feel I am a good fit for the role.
I have gained a deep understanding of how the university applies student input to improving the support services
Why did you run for the role of Welfare and Wellbeing Officer?
As well my experience creating mental health podcasts, I’ve also taken part in placements with the University of Nottingham External Relations team in which I assisted marketing officers with developing the University Health and Welcome Week campaigns.
During the campaigns I researched student opinion, thoughts on the support network and gained a deep understanding of how the university applies student input to improving the support services.
I really enjoyed my time doing this and when I knew that the elections were taking place, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to continue to improve the University Welfare and Wellbeing services as it was something, I was extremely passionate about and would love to take further.
My friends and housemates also encouraged me to run as they feel I have a lot to bring to the role and would make a useful impact to the network and work effectively alongside my fellow officers, networks and council!
What do you think is the biggest mental health issue facing students at the moment and how do you aim to address it?
I think one of the biggest issues for students in these times is based on uncertainty for the future alongside many anxieties regarding the transition to remote learning and the return to in-person teaching too. Many students have stated that they actually prefer the online based approach to support services and teaching yet some students are counting down the days to go back to normality.
I aim to address the anxieties students may have by lobbying the university to provide a blended approach to student support services in the next academic year. This could mean student services offering drop-in sessions via Teams one day and then in-person the next, for example.
I intend to develop online and in-person workshops for students led by mental health professionals and charities such as Mind
I also aim to address these issues by distributing toolkits for students, accessible from the Students’ Union website or Portland Building which will contain a series of helpful mental health information including advice on time management as the return of societies, nightlife and social events means that students may find it hard to balance their social life and study schedule which could further increase anxiety.
As well as including a broken-down list of what support services are available to students and listing the helpline numbers of groups such as Student Minds, I intend to develop online and in-person workshops for students led by mental health professionals and charities such as Mind.
What measures what you aim to put in place to ensure that mental health support is widely accessible for students?
It is essential that all students have equal and clear access to mental health support from as many channels as possible. A lot of students like to use social media as their main point of communication, so I am aiming to create regular ‘shadow days’ with university support services in which we spend a day showing students where they can find them, how to access and book an appointment with them.
As well as this, I intend to refurbish the Welfare and Wellbeing page on the University website and develop a clear and concise list of what help the University has to offer and break it down into sections from Sexual Health, Mental Health, to Drug and Alcohol Safety ports of call.
COVID permitting, Ocean or Rock City?
Wow I didn’t think you’d test me like this! COVID permitting… Ocean (sorry, not sorry!)
Featured image courtesy of Chiara Crompton. No changes were made to this image.
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