A Freedom of Information (FoI) request by the Boar has revealed that the only mandatory mental health training personal tutors are required to undertake is in a two-hour training course.
The course, undertaken by staff on their academic probation, is entitled ‘The Role of the Personal Tutor’. It is led by the Dean of Students with representatives from the Wellbeing Support Services, including a member of the Mental Health Team.
Staff are provided with an overview of the role and responsibilities of a personal tutor, understanding of the boundary setting, and details of how to refer students to specialist support.
A Student Mental Health Coordinator presents work conducted by the Mental Health Team to raise personal tutor awareness in this area. The training rests on the referral of students to the appropriate trained professionals in regards to mental health issues.
It is emphasised that the course makes clear that the role and responsibilities of personal tutors do not entail provision of specialist support for students with mental health issues.
The training course is internally lead and during the interactive workshop there is a blend of information provision, discussion of key issues, sharing of experiences and open questioning.
There is no compulsory refresh requirement, but personal tutors are given the option to book onto the course, which runs each term, for free if they require a refreshment.
All staff members are also able to undertake additional optional training at their own discretion in ‘Mental Health Awareness’ and ‘Mental Health First Aid’.
The University is currently reviewing the personal tutoring system to ensure that appropriate support is being provided to students.
Discussions with Student Staff Liasion Committees will be held as well as wider student views being sought. Relevant responses from the National Student Survey will also be reviewed as well as the Students’ Union being consulted. The review group includes faculty-wide external representations.
Planned changes to the personal tutoring system are envisaged to be made in time for the 2018-19 academic year.