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National award goes to DMU team that looked after student and staff mental wellbeing during COVID


A team providing ‘an amazing network of support for students and staff’ to ensure they looked after people’s mental wellbeing during the various COVID lockdowns, and beyond, has been recognised with a national award.

The Embedding Mental Wellbeing team at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) has been honoured with the Collaborative Award for Teaching Excellence 2022 (CATE) by Advance HE, which promotes excellence in higher education.

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In 2019, Zoe Allman, Associate Dean (Academic) for DMU’s Faculty of Computing, Engineering and Media (CEM), had enrolled DMU in the first national Embedding Mental Wellbeing in the Curriculum (EMW) project, recognising the important part it would play in the student experience.

But in 2020, as COVID put the country into lockdown and brought in new challenges to education, strategic projects had to be suspended.

Recognising how mental wellbeing would play an essential role as students and staff adjusted to a new way of teaching and learning, Zoe brought together a team to ensure as many people as possible had help available to them in and out of their blended educational experience.

In the space of just two months the Embedding Mental Wellbeing Team was brought together and started to make waves. Representatives from Healthy DMU, Welfare, Academic Development, De Montfort Students’ Union and a lead in Course Specific Interests (CSI) – which ensured wellbeing support was embedded into teaching – joined Zoe for the challenge.

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The impact on students and academics was immense. From 2020 to 2022 there have been 76,000 views of the Healthy DMU advice pages and ‘toolkits’, 1,350 engagements with e-inductions to HealthyDMU and 126 masterclasses on mental wellbeing.

The Welfare team has delivered 731 online workshops, Academic Development has trained 576 academics in Universal Design for Learning (UDL), which aims to provide an equal teaching and learning experience for every student, and the CSI team created teaching packs about wellbeing which have been downloaded 217 times.

Zoe said: “This award is excellent recognition for DMU and the team involved. Having such a positive influence on the student experience, as well as gaining national recognition that we worked so well as a team, is fantastic.

“It provides us with additional motivation to carry on championing what we do and how we do it.

“We are not claiming to have invented the wheel. DMU is already highly regarded for its work in these areas.

“But we knew something needed to be done as quickly as possible with regards to mental wellbeing during unprecedented times and to ensure we engaged as many students as we could - and we are proud to have done that.”

Alison Johns, Chief Executive of Advance HE, said: “Congratulations to each and every new CATE team on this fantastic achievement. 

“At Advance HE, we run the prestigious CATE awards for the UK higher education sector with enormous pride. The challenges of offering an outstanding teaching experience in recent years have been very demanding, but the sector has risen to the challenge.”  

The winning DMU team were; Caroline Pandya, HealthyDMU; Leanne Herbert, Welfare; Dr Kevin Merry, Academic Development; DSU officers and staff, particularly Benjamin Smith and Catherine Messinger; Rachel Davies, CSI; Zoe Allman, Project Lead and initiator.

 

Posted on Thursday 4th August 2022

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