Lady Margaret Hall is introducing a variety of new measures to improve welfare facilities available to students.
This follows concerns that current mental health provision, both at the college and across the University, has not been reaching out to the most vulnerable, after the suicides of two students in the last year.
Karen Clarke, JCR Female Welfare Officer, said, “People involved with welfare throughout the college, from the JCR up to the top of the SCR, are concerned about certain members of the college becoming isolated and so we are generally seeking to make college life and all welfare facilities open to all.”
A new mentoring system has been put in place in order to help Freshers tackle t
heir work and a new academic feedback system has been introduced.
Clarke said the mentoring system should help “limit unnecessary stress” and the feedback system should prevent academic problems going unnoticed and “highlight to the college the areas that really need the most improvement.” However, she stresses that these are simply improvements to what is a “well-respected welfare system” already.
LMH is planning a series of anxiety support workshops, primarily targeted at finalists but open to anyone. Yoga classes, which were previously only available to the MCR, are now available for the JCR “as a means of relaxation but also as a form of welfare activity that would be more accessible for students with problems such as negative body image or disordered eating.”
Clarke added that LMH is further keen to encourage students to become involved in extracurricular activities.
The Welfare team are also promoting safer drinking amongst students. The Senior Tutor Dr Fiona Spensley would like to introduce non-alcoholic nights at the college bar and the JCR is organising a quiz on the effects of alcohol.
LMH is placing more emphasis on the college parent system and Clarke notes that many Freshers involved in the swine flu “buddy” system are now generally checking up on each other’s well-being.
Clarke added, “Overall, as a college we’ve been working incredibly hard to ensure that any necessary measures to ensure the welfare of students at LMH are put into place effectively. In high pressure environments like Oxford it’s far too easy for students to ‘get lost in the system’ and find that, for whatever reason, they feel insufficiently supported or don’t know where to turn.”
One LMH student commented, “I think welfare provisions in college are already good, but any changes or improvements are of course welcome.”
Students who feel depressed or anxious can contact their Welfare Officers, Peer Supporters or Nightline on 01865 270270 for support.