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10 October 2022

Embedding Mental Wellbeing


Zoë Allman

De Montfort University (Project Lead)

World Mental Health Day is widely recognised on 10 October and the theme for 2022 is 'make mental health and wellbeing for all a global priority', a theme that particularly resonates with a QAA Collaborative Enhancement Project focused on Embedding Mental Wellbeing.


This blog post explores the outputs from that project - a project that aimed to provide definitions for mental wellbeing and embedding mental wellbeing, share examples from collaborative partner providers, and identify the benefits of embedding mental wellbeing to support colleagues across the sector.


The collaborative team included academics, professional services, senior leaders and students’ union representatives from seven original project partners: De Montfort University (Lead), De Montfort Students’ Union, London South Bank University, Open University, University of Bristol, University of East Anglia, University of Greenwich, and University of Reading.


This project explored how mental wellbeing can be embedded into all aspects of higher education to enhance the student experience. It included the collation of best practice examples and the creation of Open Educational Resources (OERs) available via the project pages on the QAA website.


Additionally, the project provided definitions for mental wellbeing and embedding mental wellbeing to facilitate accessibility and usability of the OERs. Having identified examples to share, the team sought to identify and highlight the benefits of embedding mental wellbeing for students, practitioners or programmes, and institutions (including students’ unions), helping users consider the outcomes that may be realised from replicating similar activity in their own settings.


The OERs are organised by thematic area:

  1. approaches and techniques
  2. providers, programme and modules
  3. assessment and feedback
  4. transitions during the student journey
  5. work-based placements and professional experiences
  6. relationship-building, connection and belonging. 

Within each thematic area are examples that colleagues from the contributing providers have kindly shared for inspiration, re-use and re-purposing.


Under the approaches and techniques theme are discipline-specific examples that can be adapted for use in other subjects (Embedding Wellbeing in the French Curriculum), staff development resources (Embedding Wellbeing in the Classroom: Staff Workshop), examples at the university level (Establishing a Shared Values Base), and examples of activities for use in taught sessions (A Mindful LEGO® Meditation, and Compassionate Play). The breadth of examples demonstrates the levels at which embedding mental wellbeing is already occurring and at which it can operate.


The thematic area providers, programme and modules also offers examples of embedding mental wellbeing activity at different levels within higher education. There are a number of video resources providing practical advice and information about how to embed mental wellbeing.


Assessment and feedback is a key area for explorations around embedding mental wellbeing, and the resources in this section provide tips and advice for teams developing content to further support the student experience.


Initiatives and interventions supporting transitions during the student journey are considered in the fourth thematic area, with examples ranging from the discipline-specific, presented in a way that illustrates how these ideas may be adapted for different disciplines, to university-wide activity.


Contributing providers had undertaken extensive activity to embed mental wellbeing in relation to work-based placements and professional experiences, with examples providing practical approaches and solutions to a variety of experiences linked to placements and professional experiences, supporting student mental wellbeing as they embrace these opportunities.


An example from De Montfort Students’ Union (Are you OK? A Wellbeing Conversation with Students Throughout the Coronavirus Pandemic) highlights the role and impact students’ unions and associated bodies can have in supporting relationship-building, connection and belonging. This is accompanied by examples relating to confidence building in online discussions, and achieving a sense of belonging through identity development.


The project team launched the OERs at a QAA online event on 17 January 2022 and followed this with a QAA Membership event on 14 June 2022. There has been great interest in the topic from academics, professional services, students’ unions and senior leaders. The project team hope that you find the resources and definitions useful, and welcome any comments or questions to the Project Leader, Zoë Allman.


All outputs can be accessed via the project web page. You can also explore QAA’s other Collaborative Enhancement Projects on the QAA website.