NTDC Survey Officer, Jake Green, attended the launch of a new report on the 20th of June. The report focuses on the vital support technicians provide for student mental health and wellbeing.
It was a pleasure to attend the launch of this report into the mental health and wellbeing support provided by technicians who are on the frontline.
The report was authored by a team made up of representatives from the University of Nottingham, University of Liverpool, Institute of Physics, Royal Society of Biology, Royal Society of Chemistry and the Science Council, in conjunction with the Technician Commitment.
After introductory speeches by Kelly Vere, Higher Education Engagement Manager at the Science Council, and Helen Gordon, Chief Executive of the Science Council, the context of the report was discussed by two of the partner institutions that collaborated in the research.
Andy Winter, Head of Campus Life Division at the University of Nottingham spoke about the need for a wider strategy towards mental health and wellbeing within the HE sector. Whilst extra resource would be welcome, use of counselling services are a sign of when something has gone wrong, and a broader cultural change is needed with universities to relieve the pressures on both students and staff.
Paul Gilbert, Technical Manager at the University of Liverpool, shared some of the experiences of his colleagues. This highlighted the range of situations that frontline technicians can be placed in, and the outstanding response technicians had to those situations. These examples emphasised the amazing work that technicians do, whilst also recognising the need for further support and training.
With almost 1000 respondents from 49 HEIs, the report provides a crucial insight into the pastoral role that technicians often play, but rarely get recognition for. Highlighting this is crucial, as it is the hard work of frontline staff that transforms the experience of university for students, and can be a rewarding part of a technicians role.
I hope that this report can be used as an evidence base and a platform for initiating further research into the crucial roles that technicians play in supporting student wellbeing, and the potential impacts of this on technicians themselves. The most encouraging aspect of the event was the collective recognition that this was only the beginning of a journey, and not the culmination of one.