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Funding boost to support positive student mental health practices

A young black woman sits looking thoughtfully at a laptop screen. She wears glasses and headphones and is resting her chin on her hand.

A project initiated within WELS to promote best practice in student mental health support has received a major funding award.

Positive Digital Practices will take a holistic approach to wellbeing for part-time, commuter and distance learning students.  Led by Lecturer in Education Studies, Kate Lister, it is one of 18 projects across universities and colleges in England to receive funding to support student mental health in a £6 million programme from the Office for Students (OfS).

Kate says: "Our project will scale up, embed and sustain positive practices that proactively consider mental wellbeing in learning for part-time, commuter and distance learning students. In partnership with students, we will co-create resources and initiatives to scale up positive practices in these areas, embed them across the three HEIs, and pilot them more broadly in higher education.”

The two-year project, conducted with the University of Bradford, the University of Warwick, Student Minds, Jisc and the University Mental Health Advisory Network, will work in partnership with students, HEIs and sector bodies.  The OU will lead on the Positive learner identities work area, and on distance learning students as a group, with a targeted intersectional focus on Widening Participation students.

Kate was made a Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (PFHEA) earlier this year, in recognition of her sustained record of effective strategic leadership in academic practice and development. She has previously led the OU's Embedding Mental Wellbeing in the Curriculum project and is a very popular speaker.

Watch her 2019 TEDxOpenUniversity talk on ‘How to make learning support wellbeing’:


Read the full story on the OfS funding of this project on OU Research News.

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