Award winning ‘3 minutes to save a life’ initiative rolled out to student nurse programme

The University of Wolverhampton, a member of WMCU, is rolling out an award winning suicide prevention initiative to its student nurse programme.

The student support team recently won the Outstanding Support for Students award at the Times Higher Education Awards 2016 with the programme being described by judges as a “clear winner” in the Outstanding Support for Students category.

Designed to provide support for students with suicidal thoughts, almost 200 staff – including security, caretaking and cleaning staff who have regular out-of-hours contact with students – and students’ union officers have so far been trained in workshops dedicated to tackling the issues of suicide, self-harming and emotional resilience.

These have taught staff to recognise early warning signs in at-risk students and explained how they can escalate concerns proportionately and compassionately.

In an effort to reduce the stigma related to suicidal thoughts, all staff at the University of Wolverhampton will eventually undertake training to give them an awareness and ability to respond with compassion to those students who require help.

The level of commitment to training its staff was praised highly by our judges. “It’s an easy thing to say that all staff should be equipped to support their students in this way, but it’s not an easy thing to implement,” the judges said.

The “train the trainer” model of delivery and Wolverhampton’s co-operation with Public Health England and mental health organisation Open Minds Alliance was also seen by the judges as an effective way to roll out training across the university.

“They’ve ensured that hundreds of staff have a shared level of awareness regarding suicidal thoughts and self-harming behaviours, and, crucially, know how to act on concerns they might have, and support their students effectively,” the judges said. “It’s hard to think of a more valuable support service a university can offer than providing real, effective support for students affected by suicidal thoughts,” they added.

Clare Dickens, Mental Health and Wellbeing Co-ordinator at the University of Wolverhampton, said: “The University considers our response to suicide and self-harm as a matter of safeguarding and every one of us has a part to play in safeguarding our students, our staff and ourselves.

“To date we’ve trained nearly 450 members of staff and Students’ Union officers in the initial modules of Suicide and Self-Harm Awareness, as well as Emotional Resilience –  which focuses more on the delegates themselves, and how they look after their own wellbeing – and it’s a rolling programme of training for all staff.

“We have also begun to implement these modules into our student nurse programme and so far over 200 student nurses are now equipped with the same tools, same knowledge and same confidence to save a life.”