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Fostering wellbeing in UK higher education: challenges and best practice

21 Feb 2024 | Juliette Morgan In advance of February's #LTHEchat on X, Juliette Morgan reflects on staff wellbeing and the hurdles and strategies towards healthier, more supportive environments for all.

In the higher education sector, alongside wellbeing of students, staff wellbeing remains a challenge. From academics through to professional and student support services staff, the demands of the environment can place a toll on mental, emotional and physical health. As we prepare for our next #LTHEchat, we want to start the thinking around staff wellbeing; hurdles and strategies towards healthier, more supportive environments for all. 

Multiple factors contribute to the strain experienced by staff. The pursuit of excellence, coupled with the responsibilities of teaching and administrative duties, often leaves little time for self-care. The precarious nature of academic employment, characterised for some by short-term contracts and funding uncertainty, can exacerbate stress and anxiety. Additionally, traditional hierarchical structures within universities may hinder open dialogue about mental health struggles, fostering feelings of isolation. 

Solutions and pest practices 

Despite these challenges, there is a growing recognition of the importance of prioritising staff wellbeing within HE institutions. Many universities are implementing a range of initiatives and best practices to support holistic health for staff, such as: 

  • promoting work-life balance - flexible working arrangements, including remote work options and compressed workweeks, empower staff to balance professional responsibilities with personal commitments. 
  • mental health support - dedicated counselling services, peer support networks and mental health awareness training create a culture of support and destigmatise seeking help for mental health issues. 
  • community building initiative - regular staff social events, interdisciplinary collaborations and mentoring programmes cultivate a sense of belonging amongst colleagues, reducing feelings of isolation. 
  • workload management - transparent workload allocation processes, realistic expectations for productivity and training in time management and stress reduction techniques help alleviate the burden. 
  • professional development - opportunities for continuous learning, career advancement and skill development empower staff to thrive in their roles and enhance job satisfaction. 

#LTHEchat 

Join the conversation on our next #LTHEchat on X, as we explore staff wellbeing issues in HE and foster a space to consider possible solutions moving forward.  

#LTHEchat invites academics, practitioners and stakeholders from across the sector to join in the conversation. We can begin to examine strategies for nurturing staff wellbeing, fostering a culture of support and building resilient communities within institutions.  

#LTHEchat   

Join the #LTHEchat on X to discuss the challenges and best practice of fostering wellbeing in UK higher education on Wednesday 28 February at 8:00pm with @AdvanceHE_chat and @LTHEchat  using the hashtag #LTHEchat.  

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