Universities R World has funded.

Since February 2021 when R World was launched, we have funded lecturers at Nottingham University, the University of Kent, Sheffield University, the University of Worcester, the University of Sussex and the University of Exeter to do the First Aid for Mental Health Training. Cardiff Met are now considering training some lecturers, and have included the R World video (one year on) in a teacher training module. Schools in Kent which now have trained instructors are the Simon Langton School for Boys, Simon Langton School for Girls, the Queen Elisabeth Grammar School in Faversham and Dane Court Grammar School in Broadstairs. Two places at the EKC Group have also been funded by R World and they have now decided to offer a further 48 of their teachers the training. We have also funded teachers at a school in Nottingham and the Midlands and at the Gillingham Anchorians Hockey Club with whom we have now formed a partnership.

Testimonial From Jill Shepherd, University of Kent.

Thanks to the generous support from the R World Foundation, five students from the University of Kent Division of Natural Sciences have gained the FAA Award in First Aid for Mental Health (Level 1 RQF)! Training was provided by Dr Jill Shepherd, Senior Lecturer in Stem Cell Biology at the University of Kent School of Biosciences and supported by Student Experience Coordinator Luke Smith. First Aid for Mental Health training was offered specifically to student mentors enrolled on the Academic Peer Mentoring (APM) scheme. APM is a success strategy which helps students to make the most of their studies by partnering experienced students with newer students to support their learning. Through fostering supportive mentor-mentee conversations about mental health, training student mentors in First Aid for Mental Health will further enable the successful APM scheme to maintain a healthy community of learning at Kent. Based on positive feedback from student participants, there are firm plans in place to continue offering the training to student mentors on an annual basis.

University of Kent. Jill Shepherd completed the training in September 2021.

Queen Elizabeth Grammar School, Faversham. Peter French completed his training in September 2020 : 7 October 2020. I am about to launch my first Mental health 1st aid course at QE. I don’t yet know the numbers but I will keep you updated. We are targeting 6th  form students in the first instance in the hope that they can act as mentors for the rest of the school. My training was excellent, a lot to remember, but excellent all the same. (On following up with Peter French, it seems that he did not stick to the plan and was unwilling to train anyone outside the school).  

University of Sheffield. Testimonial from Eric Olund.

R World is providing a vital service by funding mental health first-aider training for staff in higher education.  Over the fifteen years I’ve taught at Sheffield University’s Department of Geography, I have seen first-hand the effects of mental ill-health on students and the way it affects every aspect of their lives.  My university has significantly increased access to mental health services for students in the face of skyrocketing need, and such institutional support is absolutely critical for students’ wellbeing.  But outside such formal support frameworks, those of us who teach and support students on a daily basis need to know how to help when a student appears to be having problems, or is indeed having a crisis.

NUCO’s Supervising First Aid for Mental Health certification course equipped me with the knowledge and techniques to engage effectively with students who are or may be experiencing mental health and related problems.  Crucially NUCO is providing curriculum materials and ongoing support to enable me to train and certify my colleagues and students as First Aiders for Mental Health.  I found the course engaging and thought-provoking, and our trainer was excellent in her ability to draw out participants’ own experiences and insights into the subject.

Given the pandemic’s impact on mental health, my colleagues have increasingly asked for practical training.  Also our students’ Geography Society have been undertaking a number of initiatives promoting student mental health awareness, such their #YouAreSomeonesWorld campaign.  My students and colleagues are keen, and I’m looking forward to delivering my first training sessions to staff in my department before the start of next term, and rolling out an ongoing program of training for students as well over the semester–all made possible by the generosity of R World.

University of Exeter: Cordelia Freeman & Thomas Roland

At Exeter, I (Thomas Roland) am one of the more student-facing staff members. I enjoy teaching on a wide range of modules, helping students get to grips with all sorts of ideas and skills. I make a point of making myself available and approachable to students and, combined with my face being a familiar one to them, the result is that I provide a great deal of informal pastoral support to students at all degree stages. Over the last couple of years, this support has ranged from reassuring chats through to some fairly severe mental health crises. I feel lucky that students are able to come to me in these circumstances but am increasingly aware of my lack of training in this field. I am applying for funding from R World because I wish to make sure that I am providing the best support that I can, that I am able to pick up on signs and triggers that I am not currently able to, and that I am able to help and direct students to the support that they need, when they need it. Without adequate training, I am terrified of one day ‘getting it wrong’ and not giving a student the help that they need.

Since learning about this funding I (Cordelia Freeman) have taken a plan to my department and we are proposing an in-depth and long term rethinking of mental health awareness in the department. This has received the full backing of the department and they have agreed to fund the training for an additional member of staff so we will have three trained academics who will run mental health awareness courses with students.

In the first year we will roll out half day workshops with all undergraduate and postgraduate students in the geography department. These will be built into the curriculum to encourage attendance for all students but they will not be mandatory given the sensitive and potentially challenging nature of the workshop. In the spring/summer term of 2022 we will run this workshop four times (once per undergraduate year group plus one open to any year group including postgraduates) which will encompass 777 undergraduates and 68 postgraduates. This will mean in the first year of our programme, all students will have the opportunity to attend a workshop.

We will deliver the training through half day workshops following the NUCO recommended format. In the workshops we will be exploring language and stigma around mental health, common mental health conditions, and how to help others who may be experiencing a mental health issue. In the first year we will gather feedback on the workshops from participants and then adapt them based on this feedback where appropriate.

We have four goals:
1. Raise awareness of the variety of mental health conditions UG Geography students may experience, and how these may manifest in ourselves and others.
2. Normalise the discussion of mental health issues within the UG Geography student community, reduce/remove stigma. Increasing confidence to talk/address issues
3. Highlight/signpost support offered to students by the university and other groups/networks
4. Develop the departmental culture of accepting and addressing mental health issues within the UG Geography learning community in an inclusive and supportive way.

In future years we will aim to deliver the training to all students as they arrive at the university in their first year. This will be timetabled and embedded in the curriculum to encourage all students to attend. We will also run the workshops (up to 6 per year depending on demand) which will be open to all students for either students who did not attend for any reason in their first year or wish to refresh their knowledge. We hope that this will mark a step change in how we as a department speak about mental health issues and how we provide support and signposting for our students as we work towards our above goals.


Two of us (Tom Roland and I) went on the training course with RWorld funding and Nicola Thomas in our department did it shortly after us with department funding. We then set up a committee with another colleague in the department, Matt Finn, and started having discussions about rolling out training and had meetings with the university’s wellbeing team. 

We decided that for now, instead of running MHFA standalone workshops with students, we actually wanted to infuse our curriculum with mental health support and initiatives so that it becomes part of our department culture. All four of us coincidentally around the same time took up leadership positions in the department: Nicola as Head of Department, Tom as programme director for physical geography, Matt as programme director for human geography, and me as director of postgraduate research. This puts us in an excellent position to use our training to bring in changes across the board.

All this means that the training has been incredibly beneficial and worthwhile but we don’t have hours of training delivered or students who have been trained. I hope this doesn’t sound disappointing because we believe that the vision we now have for the department is much more radical and will lead to deeper impacts for all of our students.

One thing that I have done outside the department is that last year I was asked to speak to the Royal Geographical Society’s wellbeing network about the training and our work. Nick Clare was also invited so he might have already told you about it. I included a link to R World and encouraged people to apply. I’m not entirely sure why applications have slowed down but I think you’re right that there is an increasing amount of in-house training, whether that’s MHFA or other training on mental health or wellbeing. 

We are so grateful for the funding we received from R World and I hope that all makes sense. If/when we have something more easily measurable I will definitely let you know as it would be great to share.

University of Sussex, Paul Gilbert

In the first instance, I would like to pilot this with a group of third years (approx 15). We have around 100 single honours students in International Development per year. If the class size of 15 works, I hope to be able to provide the training to all single honours ID undergraduates (c. 300) over the academic year, though reaching the full number would require the support of colleagues (see below in this box). If we were able to achieve this, we could the institutionalize the training for all incoming first years in subsequent years. I would also like to pilot this for MA students by carrying out 2 x 15 person trainings for the MA EDP that I convene (usually there are approx 32 students enrolled). If this is successful, then in subsequent years we can see whether, subject to the training of additional instructors, we could roll this out for all ID MAs. I know of interest from at least 2 other colleagues with teaching qualifications, and I’m sure there will be more, so if I am able to provide the instructor training to them during the Autumn semester, we would be able to roll out the training to the ID students more feasibly in groups of 30 during the Spring and Summer terms. Hopefully, we can also disseminate the instructor training to colleagues in the other 3 departments in our School.

March 2022: Our school management team finally approved the plan for rolling out MH training. We have our pilot session next Thursday 10th for 15 people, with a view to making training compulsory from next academic year.

We have a very committed group of 4 of us organising the sessions across the 4 departments and I think it is going to become a structured and regular training from September. It’s also providing a good opportunity to build bridges between academic, administrative and student support staff. Thank you so much again for the training.

Simon Langton School for Boys, Matt Tithecott :

I recently did a Parental Training Evening and included links to R World and have spoken to many teacher / senior leaders about the positive impact the training is having.

This academic year I have trained all of the Support Staff in Mental Health awareness and plan to do a First Aider for Mental health for key people in each support area, as well as 10 of the senior students (including the Head Boy and Girl).

I will train two new senior students from each sport again next term and also plan to do the awareness courses for all yr12s between Sept and October 2022.

So the training qualification I attended from NUCO is having a huge impact on the Mental Health  knowledge of our community.

Simon Langton School for Boys. Matt Tithecott

University of Nottingham. Nick Clare

Moseley Park School, The Midlands. Sarah Glover

Our partners : Gillingham Anchorians Hockey Club. Harry McDonald

Our partners : Gillingham Anchorians Hockey Club. Kathleen

University of Worcester. Michelle Parvin

As a minimum, I intend to train the students that I am directly involved in teaching.
a) Health and Social Care students, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Students, Healthcare students. I would also like to seek opportunities to offer training to other student cohorts across the university, particularly those working within fields where they are likely to encounter individuals with mental ill-health such as paramedic science, nursing, social work, etc.
b) 200 students (plus any staff interested in taking up the training)
c) On-campus as enrichment activities.
d) To ensure that as many people as possible are quipped to deliver mental health first aid to individuals who need it.
What are your long-term goals for after the first year of the project?
To continue developing this provision and consider embedding it within our courses as they go through the re-approval process.

University of Worcester. Suzanne Allies

a) We currently have 220 post-graduate trainee teachers and about 360 under-graduate students training to be teachers at the university. We work with hundreds of schools in our partnership, therefore, this qualification would allow me to train both students and teachers in first-aid for mental health.
b) At the university we have whole-cohort lectures and lecture theatres so that many students could be trained at once, however, on the course I will learn whether this is an appropriate way to train them, and I could easily adapt this to train smaller numbers if this is the most effective way to deliver the training.
c) I intend to deliver this training in-person to groups of approx. 30 students/teachers.
d) My main goals will be to increase confidence in coping with mental health difficulties and to arm people with the knowledge to support good mental health appropriately and with empathy and care for themselves and others. Decreasing any stigma around those with poor mental health will be one of the main aims too, alongside being able to spot common symptoms and signs of poor mental health in others. My goal will be to encourage a pro-active, rather than a reactive, approach so that early intervention is applied to those that need support. I wish to share that becoming more self-aware of what someone individually needs to maintain good mental health is crucial, and I would like to discuss the various self-care and wellbeing strategies, that can be applied when someone’s mental health dips.
What are your long-term goals for after the first year of the project?
I would start, in the first year, by training smaller numbers, collecting feedback and thereby measuring the impact of the training on the participants. I would then improve the training, in light of feedback, and if it was successful and was showing good impact, I would continue to train as many students/teachers as I was able to.
The Deanery Church of England High School and Sixth Form College

We are a caring, compassionate and nurturing school community. Our school vision is to provide an education that allows children to flourish and to live life in all its fullness. We are only too aware of how mental health issues can negatively impact on a child’s ability to achieve this. In this school, we value wellbeing equally alongside academic progress. We currently have two members of staff who have attended the mental health first aid training. We would like to make this training available to all staff to increase the likelihood of early identification of emotional issues and to ensure that our young people get the correct support no matter which member of staff they have reached out to for help.

Data from NHS England shows that 18,180 mental health treatment sessions were delivered in to under-18s between April 2021 and January 2022. The figures also show that in the same period 2,085 children were referred to Wigan CCG for mental health support. As a school in the centre of Wigan, we have many students who are from the most-deprived areas of the borough. As you will be aware, these areas of high deprivation have a disproportionately large number of children who are suffering from mental health issues. We want to help these children flourish and it is for this reason that we are applying for the funding.

Please provide a one-year action plan outlining your aims, goals and objectives of what you hope to achieve within this timeframe. a) Who will you train? b) How many will you train? c) How do you intend to deliver the training? d) What are your main goals?

1) Following the training, I will look to upskill members of staff throughout the school. We currently only have two members of staff (out of 120) who have attended the mental health first aid course due to the cost implications. This means that the vast majority of teachers and support staff that our pupils engage with may not have the necessary skills to provide appropriate mental health first aid. Having a qualified instructor would enable us to upskill the remaining staff members in a cost-efficient and sustainable way.

The training will be delivered as part of voluntary after school sessions for the first year as the CPD calendar for 22/23 has already been finalised. I will receive the instructor training as part of my own professional development. I would deliver the mental health first aid course as part of my responsibilities to contribute to whole school improvements. Our goal is to create a school community where as many staff as possible are able to provide students with effective support. We want to be able to identify emotional needs early so that effective and worthwhile interventions can be offered where needed.

What are your long-term goals for after the first year of the project?

I will continue to train new staff.
During the second year, the training will be offered during whole school CPD time with staff who have already completed the training acting as mentors.
We wish to appoint student mental health ambassadors in both the lower school and sixth form who will be supported by staff who have undertaken the mental health first aid course.

Follow up

We have begun the mental health ambassador sessions with students and I will be delivering training to them in the next month or so. I will also be training up all the pastoral heads of year in the lower school and the whole of the sixth form team. We do not dates in yet for these, but I will let you know as soon as I do and then will provide you with a report after.
Having someone in school who can train staff up to level 3 in mental health first aid is fantastic. We are going to be able to teach our whole pastoral workforce for free, other than the small cost of course resources. The pastoral teams are all really keen to get the training as soon as possible as they have admitted that they often do not feel equipped to deal with the mental health issues they face on an almost daily basis.
Thank you so much for giving this to our school. I cannot tell you the difference it will make to our staff and students.
Why would you like to be considered for funding from R World?
Cardiff University

I am a Senior Lecturer at Cardiff University’s School of Geography and Planning. I am a Personal Tutor to both undergraduate and postgraduate students, and Course Director. I am also a member of the School’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee. I am in contact with students on a regular basis and see how some struggle with life at University. I am not able to support them as much as I want. Being able to talk to our students about their mental health is important, and removing the stigma that surrounds it. First Aid for Mental Health training would provide me with the skills to better engage and support our students. It would also enable me to share new knowledge about mental health to students and staff, and how to provide supportive conversations with each other. At a personal level, the training would also be of value to me is supporting my son Jake (age 14) and members of his club rugby team in Cardiff.
4. Please provide a one-year action plan outlining your aims, goals and objectives of what you hope to achieve within this timeframe. a) Who will you train? b) How many will you train? c) How do you intend to deliver the training? d) What are your main goals?
The School of Geography and Planning has a Community Fund which can be used to support projects/activities that are of direct benefit to staff and students. I plan to submit an application for funding to support the delivery of a half-day training event for student Mental Health Ambassadors, plus a ‘Let’s Talk about our Mental Health’ social event which would be led by the trained Ambassadors. In the 12 months following my First Aid for Mental Health training, I plan to recruit and train 10-12 students to become Mental Health Ambassadors. There would be 3-4 Ambassadors representing each of our three Undergraduate Degree Programmes. I will target Year 2 students as they tend to be more confident and easier to recruit as they will have been at University for one year. They will be able to use their training to support others for at least two years, but also support me in recruiting students the following year. I will deliver the training in-person at Cardiff University during the Autumn Semester (possibly during Reading Week to avoid clashes with lectures). The Ambassador led social event would be held in the School, either early December (before students break up for Christmas) or early February (after the examination period in January). Students attending the training and Ambassador event will be invited to provide feedback, and this would inform future planning. I also plan to submit a proposal to our School’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee to support student mental health initiatives as part of its Anthena Swan theme on ‘student recruitment, community and culture’.
What are your long-term goals for after the first year of the project?
1. Provide in-person training for 8-10 staff in our School (academics who are Personal Tutors, Student Engagemeet Officer and other staff who are in regular contact with our students).
2. Provide in-person training for 10-12 students annually with the support of our Student Engagement Officer. This would mean having up to 24 trained Ambassadors each academic year.
3. Secure funding to develop training resources for students and Personal Tutors. This could either be through the School’s Community Fund or Cardiff University’s successful Undergraduate Summer Internship scheme.
4. Based on feedback received from event attendees and depending on funding, organise future ‘Let’s Talk about our Mental Health’ social events at our School.