SRUC launches new three year drive to build awareness of mental ill health

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Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) has launched a new three year healthy learning and wellbeing strategy to support staff and students to improve productivity and learning.

The launch - which coincides with World Mental Health Awareness Day on Tuesday 10 October 2017 – is designed to build awareness of mental ill health among its workforce and student community.

The new strategy aims to provide a clear path forward to undertake innovative ideas and opportunities to support health and wellbeing. The new policy centres on prevention of both work-related and lifestyle-influenced ill health. It will have a particular focus on raising awareness of - and addressing - major health and lifestyle issues that can affect everyone at some point.

In the UK 70 million days are lost from work each year due to mental ill health, making it the leading cause of sickness absence. In a community of 100 people 25 will experience a mental health problem in any given year.

Gavin Macgregor, HR Director, said: “It is really important that at SRUC we build a culture of support and tackle the stigma of issues around mental wellbeing.”

David Collins, Head of Environment, Health and Safety, added: “SRUCs new three-year strategy has been designed to benefit everyone. It recognises that we can do much to prevent mental health issues and provide an environment where staff and students can recognise and support others who might need help.

“Our guiding principle is for SRUC and our students association to work in partnership to ensure we are making a difference. It will remain a priority now and in the future.”

As part of the launch SRUC and its student association – SRUCSA – will unveil Shady, a customised black dog statue after linking up with a charity called SANE who aim to reduce stigma around mental health and provide support for those struggling. It runs a Black Dog Campaign which encourages organisations to make a commitment towards mental health by taking on a dog statue.

Sonia Filby, SRUC’s Student Experience Manager said: “Joint and committed work on mental wellbeing has led to us being part of SANE’s Black Dog initiative. We look forward to welcoming Shady to SRUC. The black dog will become a voice within SRUC for mental wellbeing support through its own Twitter account.”

Gemma Jones, President of SRUCSA, said: “Mental health issues can prevent someone from fulfilling their academic potential which can impact on future life decisions. Access to the right support at the right time is critical.

“SRUCSA is therefore delighted to be partnering SRUC as we build awareness and understanding of mental ill health and work as a community to collectively support each other.”