Universities/schools 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 Sussex and the University of Exeter to do the First Aid for Mental Health Training. Schools in Kent which now have trained instructors are the Simon Langton School for Boys, the Queen Elisabeth Grammar School in Faversham and Dane Court Grammar School in Broadstairs. Two places at Canterbury College 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 just received an application from the Simon Langton School for Girls. 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.


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. 

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.

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.

Simon Langton School for Boys. Matt Tithecott

University of Nottingham. Nick Clare