Graphical image of five people with cogs in front, representing teamwork and collaboration
Annual NTF Symposia

Cross-sector collaboration to enhance embedding mental wellbeing

Zoë Allman, De Montfort University 

In the week recognising World Mental Health Day 2023, this article highlights an example of collaboration to enhance mental wellbeing, as presented at the ANTF Symposium 2023

Between April 2021-May 2022 a collaborative team of seven Universities and a students’ union sought to improve understanding of EMW and develop a suite of open educational resources (OERs), supporting colleagues across the sector in their endeavours to embed mental wellbeing in the curriculum. The project was made possible thanks to a Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) Collaborative Enhancement project, and was led by National Teaching Fellow (NTF) & Collaborative Award for Teaching Excellence (CATE) winner, Zoë Allman from De Montfort University. 

Joining De Montfort University were De Montfort Students’ Union, London South Bank University, Open University, University of Bristol, University of East Anglia, University of Greenwich, and University of Reading, in a team comprising academics, learning developers, mental health experts, student support and counselling representatives. The variety of roles, remits and responsibilities represented by team members brought a unique mix to the project, facilitating effective questioning and exploration through collaborative activity. What all team members brought to the project was a passion for improving the student experience, particularly a focus on student mental health and wellbeing. 

The project aimed to agree definitions and share examples of embedding mental wellbeing, to support colleagues to enhance provision for the benefit of students.  By also articulating the benefits of embedding mental wellbeing the project also aimed to increase student and staff engagement with wellbeing activity, enhancing student learning experiences across a wide range of disciplines.  The project would collate examples from the contributing universities and produce OERs for use by academics, academic developers, and strategic leaders across the sector. 

Reflecting on how we managed to facilitate effective collaboration between the seven Universities and a students’ union during the early post-pandemic period, the team recognised the skills needed to manage and deliver the project on time had included organisation, time management, effective communication, and clear leadership and vision. The team developed an original proposal when submitting their idea to the QAA and stuck to this as the guiding approach for the whole project. This also provided a platform for idea development, alongside an environment in which all team members were invited to contribute and have a voice; all listening, responding, reacting and enacting. 

The team are greatful to the QAA for supporting the project and hope that colleagues across Higher Education continue to find the OERs useful in their own practice. 

The Open Educational Resources mentioned in this article are available at:  

Image: Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Twitter: Follow @zoe_a for more from the author and @QAAtweets for more information about the QAA and Collaborative Enhancement Projects