At UMHAN, we understand that the current situation with COVID-19 will potentially effect the mental health and wellbeing of students and staff. Student Minds have collated some resources, many of which will be useful to both students and staff.
You should be able to continue to access support from your Specialist Mental Health Mentor via SKYPE or similar, or by phone. This may not be your ideal method, but please be reassured that your mentor will be used to providing mentoring this way, when students are on placement or a year abroad. Please contact your mentor directly to discuss this with them.
Other MH support from University – some universities will be offering some kind of “remote” support, but it is best to check your university’s website/social media for more information about this.
For Mental Health Advisers/Specialist Mental Health Mentors
With many staff being told to work from home, you may be questioning whether you can effectively carry out your role remotely.
You may be used to conducting remote appointments with students on placement or studying abroad, and many of our mentor members have extensive experience in this area.
Privacy and security
- Are you able to work in an area which ensures the student’s privacy? Are there circumstances which might alter this e.g. if schools close, or a family member is ill?
- Can you access a secure platform which meets privacy and security standards for healthcare?
- Ensure you know the exact location of the student when the appointment takes place to ensure a prompt response should there be a safety issue i.e. room number, address and phone number.
- Have you been trained to use new technology or given adequate time to familiarise yourself/practice?
- Some students may not be able to access remote support - this may be due to lack of appropriate space, or no access to free wifi
- You should ask individual students about any disability-related access requirements which may prevent them from accessing support remotely
Tips from other members:
- For students - Where possible, log on in a safe, quiet, confidential space (I have had students logging in while they're walking home etc!)
- If possible, stick to the same day/times. It will bring a sense of routine and normality
- Re-iterate boundaries as working from home brings you into each other’s personal space a little bit more.
- Be open enough to ask them if they are finding it difficult/easy - and negotiate a new way of working if needed.
- Screen sharing, so you can work on the same documents would be beneficial if you work this way in sessions too. However, there may be compatibility and digital literacy issues.
- Keep your own routine and boundaries by only agreeing times you are comfortable with (i.e. your normal working hours)
- Keep connected with other staff.
Professional Body Guidance on remote consultation
The following guidelines might also be useful to consider, depending on the nature of your role:
For Specialist MH Mentors
If you are delivering mentoring sessions funded by DSAs (SFE/SFW), you can provide these remotely, without any special authorisation from the funding body. This can be by phone or video call but not email.However, you do need to check with the student that they are happy for this to happen. It may be helpful to reassure them that you are used to delivering sessions remotely, when students are on placement or studying abroad, and perhaps give them some tips.
The Student Loans Company say:
Students do not need to contact us to advise of this. Please make it clear on the timesheet that the support session was carried out remotely due to the current situation and we are then able to accept email confirmation of support from students. Please note this must be from the student's registered email address we hold, or their university email address.
For all UMHAN members
If you are continuing to provide support to students remotely or in person, please try and make sure that you can access supervision. We understand that accessing supervision remotely may not be ideal, but the principles behind supervision are even more pertinent when dealing with unusual situations and with increased levels of anxiety from students. The BACP in their guidance to members (link above) suggest that if you are providing support remotely then you should also access supervision remotely to be able to better understand any potential barriers to communication.
If you supervisor is unable or unwilling to provide your regular supervision, please retain any written correspondence about this.
If you are unable to work due to illness or other COVID-19 related issues, we will of course take this into account if you are selected for audit.
UMHAN also has links to CPD which can be access remotely.