Setting boundaries is one of the most important things you should do as a committee member 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. 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.  

Here are some of our top tips:

  • Set boundaries early
    • Do you have a Wellbeing Secretary? - at the start of the year when introducing the role, set out the boundaries and expectations of how members can interact with them 
    • Has someone approached you about having a conversation around mental health or wellbeing? At the start of the conversation set out the parameters of what support you can provide
  • Don’t promise confidentiality from services / the SU
    • Make it clear that you can keep a level of confidentiality, but if things exceed your boundary or if you have concerns, you might have to escalate to SU or the University or to external services to get further support
  • Timings
    • Make it clear when you’re acting in the capacity as a committee member and when a friend / as an individual 
    • On a night out? Make it clear you're not going to be able to offer advice 
    • Receiving lots of messages? Say thanks for your message, I’ve seen it. Just want to let you know we will get back to you within the next couple of days. Or if messaging at unsociable hours, when responding make clear that you're not available within those times. 
  • Having the conversation
    • You might need to arrange a meeting with someone to set boundaries
      • Set a neutral space and time
      • Have signposting resources to hand 
      • Speak to us at the SU
      • Make it clear what you expect the next steps to be so there is no room for interpretation  
  • Knowing what to say
    • This is always the hardest part, here are some phrases or messages you could use: 
      • “I’m sorry I am on a night out at the SU right now, it’s not the right time for me to offer support. Can you drop me a message and we can set something up in the next couple of days?” 
        • If the situation escalates: "I’m going to ask your friend who’s with you to take you to the wellbeing tent" "I can't provide the support you need right now, so I'm going to ask a member of security"
        • Follow up the next day - explain why you weren't able to provide support and re-establish the boundary whilst also checking in and making sure they are okay
      • "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 team on campus, they would be bale to give you the support you need. I can help find their email address or phone number”
      • “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.”
      • “This isn’t my role, so I can’t help you directly, but I’ll point you in the right direction.”
      • “I’m sorry to hear that you are experiencing this right now and what you are going through. I can give you some signposting resources but unfortunately I cannot offer more support as that is beyond my remit as a committee member and I do not have the professional expertise to be able to help you beyond this"
      • "I want to be upfront with you and note that I am worried about your wellbeing and so I will inform the University wellbeing department so they can reach out and offer you more specialised support."
      • "We would still like you to be involved in the society, so let us know what would help in making our activities accessible to you?" E.g. if you want to arrive later / leave early that’s fine, step out at certain topics, bring a friend for support, step away for a couple of weeks and it won’t jeapordise your place on the team, take a lighter role within an event etc.