Listening to the student voice is a key priority for BIMM Institute. With nearly five thousand students spread across eight colleges in the UK, the pandemic has presented a new challenge for staff. “We surveyed our student population specifically about their mental health and 23% of respondents were saying that mental health problems were a serious challenge for them,” says Sara Dyer, Head of Student Services at BIMM Brighton. “The big change we’ve made this year is by bringing mental health discussions out into the open with the help of services like Togetherall.”
Life at BIMM has always been about encouraging students to become part of something bigger, empowering them to find the path that’s right for them. The institute teaches music-related courses only, and many of its alumni – including George Ezra, Natasha Bent, James Bay, Tom Odell and Fontaines D.C. – have gone on to achieve international stardom. Yet the student services team always remembers that there is more to education than lectures and assignments.
From listening to their student population, it became clear that counselling and face-to-face therapies were not what every student wanted. BIMM required a toolkit of options to fit the differing mental health and wellbeing needs of each individual. Togetherall has become a significant service that compliments the student support package that BIMM offer.
“We want our students to know we are listening and are proactive in providing them options to find their own positive path forward,” says Mark Lewis, Head of Student Services at BIMM Birmingham. “Togetherall helps to provide clinical expertise alongside a healthy peer-to-peer support community for our students.”
The user-friendly nature of Togetherall has enabled BIMM to offer a mental health and wellbeing support platform that is at the cutting edge in terms of what students can access. Staff at BIMM feel Togetherall has helped to galvanise a student community that was previously struggling to find information and support. Students have reported feeling secure in the knowledge that they can wake up in the middle of the night, access clinical advice and resources, or engage in safe peer-to-peer support chats with other users. This has helped students to feel less isolated and more likely to reach out for help when they need it.
BIMM know that life beyond lectures and study will not always be easy for their students. There will be good times and bad times, so being mentally prepared is key. Creatives can be highly sensitive, but very open and honest about their thoughts and feelings which has helped college staff to listen and help.
“We’re not telling students what they need,” says Sara. “We’re asking students to tell us what they need. Togetherall and our other support services have really helped us be proactive in supporting the mental health and wellbeing of our students.”
Students at BIMM have really taken the lead and proactively engage with Togetherall and other services. More conversations have been started. More discussions about how to support each other are happening. Lecturers and tutors report how much more confident they feel in being able to listen and signpost students towards Togetherall and other services. Staff report that Togetherall have helped BIMM to offer more options for their students, providing each individual with a range of tools to help them discover a path that’s right for them.
If your institution is looking to provide a safe and supportive mental health community to its students and members of staff, contact us to find out more about Togetherall’s online peer-to-peer support offering.
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