Rob Eastwood, Service Coordinator, Counselling and Mental Health Service

Celebrating #OurImperial community during COVID-19

“First and foremost, everyone has been working to make sure that our students are being supported – that our students have that key mental health support.”

I’m a Service Coordinator in the Student Counselling and Mental Health Advice Service. I’m responsible for making sure that the administration of the counselling and mental health process runs smoothly – both for the students and the staff – and that our students can be contacted safely, quickly and fairly.

When the lockdown happened, the first thing we did was pause our service for about a week while we planned and implemented the safest way to support our students. I worked closely with ICT – in particular with Nam Ly, Mark Curtis and Rob Sherwood – to get the team set up with the equipment they needed to work remotely and to make sure they could access our systems.

We used this pause to break into smaller groups and to get the team talking with each other about how we can offer our services safely, what the risks might be, and how we could control and mitigate them. My role was to make sure that these groups could communicate with each other, and I’ve also been training our staff on how to run sessions remotely with Microsoft Teams. We’ve written a lot of manuals and had a lot of conversations to make sure that both students and staff can feel comfortable with this new way of working, and in the last week, we’ve started to run our first sessions.

It’s still early days, but it’s great to see that the opt-in rate from students to access our remote services is really good. The feedback from staff has been very positive too – they’ve told us that they’ve found that they can engage with students during the remote sessions much more easily than they expected.

I’ve played just a small part in what we’ve had to do during this period. Every single member of the team, including our colleagues in Student Services and ICT, has had to change their way of working in a very short space of time. First and foremost, everyone has been working to make sure that our students are being supported so that they have key mental health support. Their response has been absolutely incredible.

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