Become a Student Minds Facilitator… Last chance to apply!

student-mindsJoin the team at Student Minds, the UK’s student mental health charity! We’re looking for student volunteers to help run a brand new Positive Minds Course at Bournemouth University, providing peer-to-peer support for students experiencing mild depression.

We provide a fantastic opportunity for students who are interested in receiving training and on-going support in delivering this project. Successful applicants will join us for a two-day facilitator training workshop covering all the basics of running a safe and effective support group, from listening skills to publicity and lots more.

By creating a positive atmosphere for talking about mental health, we aim to give students the confidence to look after their own wellbeing. This is an opportunity not only to make a real difference to student life but also to develop your own skills and experience!

Applications close on Monday 30 March at Midday so don’t miss out!

For more information about the course and how to apply visit: Or contact with any questions. You can also contact Sarah Worley, Wellbeing Co-Ordinator at BU Student Emotional Wellbeing Service, for an informal chat about applying on 01202 965020 or email

World Mental Health Week: 6 – 10 October

world-mental-healthBU recognises that good mental health is vital to living life fully. To educate and help raise awareness around mental health issues, BU is hosting a wide variety of events between Monday 6 and Friday 10 October.

Events include presentations from those suffering from mental illness, and a screening and talk about ‘Finding Mike’- a  campaign that went global at the start of the year to find the stranger that stopped mental health campaigner Jonny Benjamin, from taking his own life.

Numerous speakers will visit throughout the week to give both personal and professional views on different mental illnesses and information stands will provide advice and support.

The information below gives the highlights of the week, but for full details and to book onto any of the events, please see the World Mental Health Week Programme.

Monday 6 October

  • Talk from the Police and Dorset Healthcare University NHS Foundation Trust about the mental health street triage team; Bournemouth House (BG10), 10am – 11am. More information and to book onto this event.
  • Hidden Talents – a group of staff employed by Dorset HealthCare University NHS Foundation Trust who have experienced a mental illness at some time in their life or live with a mental health condition – will give a talk about their experiences; Bournemouth House (BG10), noon – 1pm. More information and to book onto this event.

Tuesday 7 October

  • Rick Dyer, Peer Specialist from Dorset Mental Health Forum will give a talk entitled ‘Switched off, Switched on, I have had psychosis’; Student Hall, Talbot House, noon – 1pm. More information and to book onto this event.

Wednesday 8 October

Thursday 9 October

  • Dorset ‘Time to Change’ meeting; Dorset County Council, Dorchester, 10am – noon. Please contact: David Corbin, Equality and Diversity Manager via email: if you wish to attend this meeting.
  • A talk on the signs, symptoms and support for those suffering from depression; Student Hall, Talbot House, 1pm – 2pm. More information and to book onto this event.

Friday 10 October

  • Abigail Balachandran, who suffered with Bulimia for 10 years and now works for I*EAT, a local eating disorders charity, will give a talk about her experiences;Student Hall, Talbot House, Talbot Campus. 9.40am – 10am. More information and to book onto this event.
  • Carer, Miranda Portwood will talk about her own personal experiences of supporting her daughter with anorexia; Student Hall, Talbot House, Talbot Campus, 10.10am – 10:30am. More information and to book onto this event.
  • Talk entitled ‘Understanding Eating disorders: the challenges and opportunities’; Student Hall, Talbot House, Talbot Campus, 10.40am – 11:30am. More information and to book onto this event.
  • SUBU is signing The Time to Change pledge to make a public statement of aspiration that as an organisation it wants to tackle mental health stigma and discrimination, Dylan’s Bar, Poole House, 1pm – 2pm.
  • Mark Storey, a peer specialist for Dorset mental health forum and a professional musician will tell his own mental health story via music; Dylan’s Bar, Poole House, 2pm – 3pm. In 2001 Mark suffered a life changing accident, in 2013 Mark found music again having lost his music career in 2001, and started writing about his lived experience of mental health. Having now created Mental Health Music, Mark’s songs are going round the world and are reaching people in a new way. You can hear him on iTunes or Amazon and YouTube or follow him on twitter @markstorey65.

Why revolutionising dementia technology deserves your Longitude Prize vote

By Anthea Innes, Director, Bournemouth University Dementia Institute (BUDI)

The Longitude Prize is a challenge that offers £10m in prize money to help solve one of the greatest issues of our time. The public chooses the cause through a public vote and if a project then goes onto succeed, it wins the prize. Among the six categories this year, three cover health: paralysis, antibiotics and dementia. And it is the last of these that I think should get your vote.

The dementia challenge is to develop intelligent, yet affordable technologies that revolutionise care for people with dementia enabling them to live truly independent lives. The aim is to help people with dementia to live longer and better lives in their own homes.

Dementia is a public health challenge acknowledged by the World Health Organisation as well as by many individual county’s governments, including the UK with the launch of the Dementia Challenge. Dementia costs the UK more than stroke, heart disease and cancer put together, yet is has not been afforded the same research funding. While more has been made of it of late, it wasn’t until recently that it received much public attention.

Recent campaigns by Alzheimer Associations across the world have led to increased attention to the need to not only educate people about the signs and symptoms of dementia, the potential risk reduction strategies that we can employ, but also the need to approach the support of those living with dementia now in a more positive and proactive manner.

The creation of the BUDI orchestra is one way we have created the opportunity for people with dementia to learn (or relearn) musical instruments providing support to those living with dementia and their family carers. Music and singing has a positive effect in people with dementia, with music more ably recalled when there are memory problems, and here people not only come together to sing, but to play instruments and perform to the general public.

Technology already helping

Technology offers many potential opportunities for those living with dementia to live better, for longer and more independently. For example devices that support people with dementia to go out and about in their communities independently giving themselves and their families reassurance that they can be found using satnav technology to locate them, or a panic button if they need help. Other devices such as those that autocut gas supplies on cookers enable people with dementia to cook for longer. And memory devices that are activated when a person with dementia is about to leave the house reminding them to take their keys, purse or other items are also innovative and promote independence.

Equally people who work in a range of public settings, like shops, banks, buses, trains, leisure centres, as well as traditional health and social care settings like hospitals can all learn to adapt and improve their communication skills to enable people with dementia to live more active lives.

This is a critical aspect to consider as people with dementia require those around them to be aware that they might need a little longer to process information, that they may ask the same question again, that they may not understand complex questions and find it easier to have a complex question broken down into bite sized chunks. For example, rather than a supermarket worker saying “that’s £20 please, have you got a club card, and did you use any of your own bags, or did you only use ours?”, they could break the sentence into four chunks and wait for the response after each before moving on the next question.

Lives can be made better now

Small things can make a huge difference to people with dementia and their families as our recent footage from those living with dementia in Dorset demonstrates. Those with dementia and their family clearly articulate that it is possible to live well with dementia and to overcome or compensate for some of the difficulties dementia creates.

An estimated 135m people worldwide will have dementia by 2050. While scientists look for ways of curing or stopping the disease in its tracks – something that remains a considerable way away – it’s clear that supporting and improving the lives of those living with dementia now is just as important.

The need to include people with dementia in society at large is evident in promoting well-being and quality of life. It also offers us the opportunity to promote inter-generational engagement to help future generations understand about dementia, recognise the signs and symptoms and to reduce the fear and stigma that is often evident in general discourse that surrounds dementia.

Dementia is often presented as a health issue; although it can be dealt with in this way it is perhaps more fruitful to consider dementia as a social issue, a societal challenge that affects us all. One in three people over 65 will develop dementia and one in three people will know a person with dementia as a neighbour, friend or family member. Therefore dementia does already touch many, and this will grow as our population ages and people live for longer. Dementia is a true worldwide challenge and definitely deserving of the longitude vote.

The Conversation

Anthea Innes receives funding from a range of sources for her research including the NIHR, Bournemouth University, NHS Wessex, Bournemouth Borough Council, NHS Dorset, Brendon Care, Guild Care, Gracewell, TLC PLC, EU Erasmus Mundus, Alzheimer Society and NHS South of England.

This article was originally published on The Conversation.
Read the original article.

BU has therapy dog to help students in need


Students who need additional learning support at Bournemouth University are receiving a helping paw from a new canine colleague.

Jack the shih tzu is the first therapy dog to work in a UK university full-time, and has been helping out in BU’s Additional Learning Support (ALS) team.

The team support students with specific learning differences, physical or sensory impairments, mental health issues and medical conditions.

Jack, who is owned by ALS tutor Carolyn Atherton, has joined them as part of a pilot project, in conjunction with Dorset-based voluntary group Caring Canines.

He sits in on sessions that Carolyn has with students, helping them to relax and focus.

“Jack helps refocus students from their issues to the task in hand – enabling them to reach a place where they are ready to start learning,” said Carolyn.

“If someone in the office is upset – be it staff or students – Jack is very empathic and will go to them, providing a distraction from the difficulty they are experiencing.

She added: “He’s been such a good boy with the students and he’s providing a lot of people with smiles.”

Jack currently sits in on around 12 one-to-one sessions a week, and students say they have already noticed the difference he makes.

One student, who did not want to be named, said that Jack’s presence helped him through mental health issues to complete his course and gain full-time employment.

He said: “My problem was because I was having a lot of mood swings, I found it very difficult to study and to learn because sometimes I was very lethargic and sometimes I was hyper, and it was hard to concentrate and focus.

“Jack was very good at calming me down on really bad days. He was very intuitive and very relaxed and an amazing thing to look forward to.”

He added: “I went from completely crashing and not being able to do my studies, to getting a job and being about to graduate. I wouldn’t have been able to get out there and do it without Jack.”

Evidence suggests being in the presence of an animal such as Jack helps people focus better and more able to concentrate on learning.

The ALS team and Caring Canines are hoping to work with academics from the University to conduct further research into the benefits of animal-assisted therapy.

Toni Clarke from Caring Canines said: “It’s lovely to see people who struggle improve because of the dogs. Sometimes it is just about building up their confidence and self-esteem, which the dogs help with because they are non-judgmental.

“It’s also good for the dogs as it keeps them busy and active.”


The work of Jack and the ALS team was recognised at an event at BU’s Talbot Campus, attended by the Mayors of Bournemouth and Poole and representatives from the students’ union.

SUBU President Murray Simpson said: “Jack the dog is one example of the unique way in which the university supports its students.

“The positive impact animals have on people both physically and psychologically has been proven– especially for students suffering from anxiety – and it’s great to see BU using its research and applying it to the services it has.”

Find out more about the work of the ALS team at BU.

Mental Health Awareness Week at BU


Bournemouth University participated in World Mental Health Awareness week by hosting a number of guest lectures and events, hoping to inform people and raise awareness of mental health.

Events included talks about the representation of mental health in the media (hosted by Paul Scates and Dr Andrew Mayers – pictured) and a presentation of a series of films created to highlight the importance of mental health awareness.

Dr Ciarán Newell, associate director of nursing for eating disorders at NHS Dorset healthcare service, delivered a lecture at Bournemouth University titled ‘Eating Disorders Myths and Truths’. Newell’s lecture considered the myths, causes and treatment options for eating disorders and how to help someone overcome the illness.

Newell commented, “I hope people leave with a better understanding of what eating disorders are and not buy into myths”. He is referring to popular misconceptions many people have about eating disorders and emphasised how common they are in society.

The events were run in partnership with Dorset Healthcare University NHS Foundation Trust, Dorset Mental Health Forum, Richmond Fellowship and Borough of Poole.

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MP who battled depression among speakers at BU mental health conference


An MP who was one of the first to speak publicly about his battle with mental health issues shared his thoughts and experiences during a conference at Bournemouth University.

Kevan Jones, MP for North Durham, raised the topic of his depression in the House of Commons in a bid to reduce the stigma around the subject.

He was one of the keynote speakers at the Engagement in Life: Promoting Wellbeing and Mental Health conference, which took place at Bournemouth University’s Talbot Campus on Friday September 6.

The day-long conference was organised by the University Department of Mental Health, a collaboration between BU’s School of Health and Social Care and Dorset Healthcare University NHS Foundation Trust.

Kevan said: “I think academic research into mental illness is very important, but it shouldn’t stay in an ivory tower, and I think this is good example of the university looking outwards and actually engaging with its local community. I think that’s very important.”

During his keynote, Kevan spoke about his own personal battle with depression and the need to reduce the stigma around talking about mental health.

“We need to see mental illness as the same as a physical illness,” he said.

“We’ve got to get it into people’s heads that just like any other condition,” he said.

The conference was attended by more than 200 service users and health professionals from across the country and looked at innovative, recovery-focused service development, training and research in mental health care.

Other keynote speakers at the conference were Rachel Perkins OBE, chair of cross-government advisory committee Equality 2025, and Professor Geoff Shepherd, who leads a national programme for the Centre of Mental Health around supporting recovery journeys.

Professor Shepherd said: “It’s an important conference, bringing together a lot of people who are interested in a number of things but particularly these ideas which come now under the heading of recovery.

“Up to now, most people have thought that it’s the staff who are in charge, that they have all the knowledge, and expertise,” he added.

“But actually, the people who come to the service know a lot as well and know some rather different things.

“The way that services will be most helpful in the future is if we can combine these two elements.”

There was also a wide-ranging programme of sessions looking at recovery-focused topics including measuring recovery outcomes, personal stories of recovery and developing peer support workers.

Professor Sue Clarke, Director of the University Department of Mental Health, said: “Good mental healthcare depends critically on bringing service users and service providers together in a mutually respectful and compassionate way.”

Find out more about the University Department for Mental Health

New films will raise awareness of mental health issues in Bournemouth


A set of films created by Bournemouth University and Dorset Healthcare will help to reduce the stigma around talking about mental health issues, it is hoped.

Three films have been made, featuring BU staff, students and members of the local community talking about their experience of mental health problems and overcoming them.

They are available to watch on the Bournemouth University YouTube channel and are the latest in a series of awareness-raising activities organised by BU and Dorset Healthcare University NHS Foundation Trust.

The films are part of the national Time to Change anti-stigma campaign, being run by leading charities to encourage people to talk about mental health issues and reduce discrimination.

Dr James Palfreman-Kay, Equality and Diversity Adviser at BU, said: “We thought about how we could bring something to life where we have got students, staff and members of the community talking about their own experiences.

“I’m hoping that it will start conversations around mental health and continue these discussions.”

BU and Dorset Healthcare have been working together to combat stigma around mental health for the past three years, holding regular talks and events.

Key achievements include a 150 per cent increase in attendance at mental health events, a poster campaign, an institutional pledge, and activities like quizzes and football tournaments to help raise awareness.

The videos were premiered at a Mental Health Awareness @ BU event, which took place on the university’s Talbot Campus and was attended by around 100 people.

Carer and Service User Co-ordinator at BU Angela Warren is featured in the videos, and spoke about her own experiences with depression and self-harm.

She said: “I want to help raise awareness of the issues and help people understand what it is really like.

“My hope is that we keep on talking about mental health and we don’t shy away from it.

“We need to constantly challenge that stigma and treat people with mental health problems with the same understanding and compassion that we do any other illness.”

Gail Taylor, Patient Experience Facilitator at Dorset Healthcare, said that the events raising awareness of mental health issues had been well-received.

“We have had a huge amount of positive feedback, both anecdotally and written.

“It has allowed us to reach a much younger audience and helped them to connect with the health community locally, which has been really important as well.

Watch the Time to Change videos