Mind has launched an exciting programme, Mentally Healthy Universities, to support mental health at universities – working across the university student body, the higher education workplace, and with universities as employers. Our programme helps students to understand workplace mental health, have the confidence to support their own mental health and have awareness of sources of support, within and beyond the workplace.
We partnered with four local Minds and two peer designers to develop our courses using the Mind Service Design Toolkit. During our launch, we gathered feedback from students who attended our courses and from university stakeholders, as it's really important to us that everything we create is accurate, unbiased and reflects the experiences of university students.
Co-production made our work more flexible and agile. We learned that involving people remotely can be much more inclusive. For example, someone who may not have the time or ability to travel can get involved online and can therefore take part in a wider range of opportunities.
We split our work across three days and found this worked really well. The workshops were efficient as we sent our information in advance and we were able to ask everyone to do tasks before and after them. We felt very confident that we were making the most of our time together online as we knew exactly what was going on and everyone had come to session well prepared with ideas. Our workshops were really tightly run and we got what we needed out of them.
We now have strong knowledge of these tools and would like to empower others working with us to use the tools too. We would like to increase our co-production by training others so that they can become more involved in decision-making.
Once we realised that we would not be able to meet up in person, we began to explore digital tools and ways to work creatively online. We wanted to find a tool to not only replace our in person design sprint, but to make it better. We used Mural, a sophisticated interactive whiteboard, which ran quickly with no lags and allowed us all to work at the same time using lots of images and colours. It was challenging at first as it was a new tool for us but it went really well.
We enjoyed the drawing element of this visual software (using virtual post-it notes) as it made our workshops really engaging and everyone could work independently. It was easy to facilitate as there were no notes to be made and we didn’t have to make sense of what each person said as they wrote down their ideas fully and in their own words.
We believe in the idea of “nothing about us without us” and that we shouldn’t create content for a particular group if we aren’t part of that group. It’s important to us that we amplify the voices of young people with lived experience so we shared our opportunity using networks at universities, via local minds, the student fundraising team and the Youth Voice Network and received many passionate applications. One of our peer designers was the chair of their university’s mental health society and the other had worked part time at their local GP service.
Local Minds who took part in this co-production have more ownership of these courses and this can be vital for local Minds which deliver funded programmes.
This was a really positive experience for the peer designers as they gained an understanding of how Mind works and how charities operate. One student has begun working within the charity sector and the other student who recently graduated with a Masters degree in psychology and innovation, can use this experience to boost their employability and apply the skills have they gained in their future career.
We provided a main point of contact and offered continued support via email and phone. We gave the young people inductions and training on the tools, support around communications and an in depth knowledge about the design process. Following the workshops, we continued working with the peer designers and commissioned them to consult on our student-facing communications.