What is a Wellbeing Secretary?
A Wellbeing Secretary is a member of the committee solely focused on ensuring that members’ wellbeing is at the forefront of all activity. This means making sure your events are an inclusive environment for any student to get involved, and taking into consideration their wellbeing whilst at the event. You are also a point of contact for members if they have any issues and you should do your best to signpost them on to the most appropriate service or share helpful resources with anyone struggling.
It is important to note here that a Wellbeing Secretary is not there to diagnose a student’s mental health condition, or to solely support a member with their mental health/any issues they are struggling with. You should always put your own mental health first and not allow this role to have a detrimental effect on your studies or mental wellbeing.
What is expected of you?
As a Wellbeing Secretary, you should:
- Attend Mental Health Awareness Training at the beginning of the year in order to be fully equipped to be effective and knowledgeable in the role
- Be a point of contact for members struggling with group or personal issues
- Use your knowledge from training to signpost members to the relevant Students’ Union, University or external services
- Go the extra mile at the beginning of the year to ensure members or prospective members are cared for and treated with respect
- Make an effort to facilitate open discussions about mental health, and attempt to develop your group's understanding of wellbeing through events, activities or campaigns
- Have an oversight of your group’s events and activities and make sure welfare of members is always considered
- Create an inclusive environment, so that members feel safe to talk about mental health experiences
- Not be solely responsible for the welfare of a member. Identifying when a student needs to see someone else and when their own wellbeing is at risk
- Understand when a situation needs to be escalated to the Student Opportunities team
Setting boundaries is one of the most important things you should do as a Wellbeing Secretary and this can help to ensure your own mental health and wellbeing remains a top priority. To do this, you need to know your own limits and feel comfortable saying to others when your own mental health needs to take precedent.
It’s perfectly okay to be honest with members and recommend they speak to other services. Why not try one of these messages:
- “I’m really sorry but I don’t think I am the best person to speak to right now. My own mental wellbeing is quite low. But why don’t you talk to the Wellbeing or Counselling team on campus, they would be able to give you the support you need. I’m more than happy to walk with you to make an appointment.”
- “I’m really sorry but as a committee member I can only signpost to other services and I’m unable to offer any further support because I’m not equipped or trained to do so. But here are some services that could help, or have you thought about booking an appointment with Royal Holloway counselling?”
Set these expectations and boundaries early on in the year so people know what to expect and understand that there is a limit to the support you are able to provide.
Top Tip: At one of the first member meetings you hold, why not introduce yourself and your role, making sure to explain what they can expect from you and highlighting how you are able to signpost.
Knowing when to escalate
It is also important to know when to escalate. The mental wellbeing of your members does not lie solely on your shoulders, so please use the resources available to you!
You should keep in touch with the Student Opportunities team and let them know of any issues that are occurring. Additionally, you can email the Wellbeing team [email@example.com] with any concerns you may have about members and they will be able to reach out to the individual and check in with them directly.
Here is a template email you could send to the Wellbeing team:
My name is … and I am the Wellbeing Secretary of [Student Group]. I have been in touch with a student in our group and they are experiencing a few issues, such as ...
I feel that this student would really benefit from some support and I would appreciate if you could reach out to them, if they are not someone already on your radar.
[add more detail about the circumstances as necessary]
It would be great if you could reach out to [student’s name], to see how they are and make sure they have the correct support in place going forward.