To help mark Mental Health Awareness Week, we interviewed Julie Waddell, an Inclusion Coordinator at RGU about the Inclusion Mentoring Service. Julie discusses how the service can support RGU students with mental health difficulties, long term illness or any other disability.
Tell us a bit about yourself
I am Julie Waddell and I am one of the coordinators at the Inclusion Centre at RGU. I work with students who disclose a disability. It can be anything from a mental health difficulty to autism, dyslexia, or any other health condition. I run the mentoring service. It aims to provide the support that facilitates competence in self-management for these students.
What is the Inclusion Mentoring Service?
The Inclusion Mentoring service is for anyone with a mental health difficulty, autism, dyslexia and other conditions. It was set up to improve support for these individuals through the duration of their time at RGU.Julie Waddell, Inclusion Coordinator at RGU
The mentors work with students on a one-to-one basis to help with goal setting, time management and to offer emotional support. It was first established in 2019 with the capacity to support up to 22 students a week. The service has increased since then and now has the capacity to support up to 72 students a week.
How can one sign up?
The best way to organise an initial chat is to book an inclusion callback on the ASK RGU platform. And then we will be in touch.
How does the Inclusion Mentoring Service work?
We will then pair students with a mentor. At the initial appointment, the mentor and the mentee will talk through what suits them and look at what is possible for them and what isn’t. The mentors will help students plan their time and organise goals for that week. Students will be matched with the same mentor every time. This gives students the opportunity to build rapport with their mentor.
The service is completely confidential. Students can sign up for it and access it without their academic department or school ever knowing that they are getting support.Julie Waddell, Inclusion Coordinator at RGU
What other support do you provide?
We provide a range of support to our students. We help them sign up for the Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA). This is a Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS) funded grant that can help cover some of the extra study-related costs due to an impairment, mental health condition, or learning difference. The funding is under three main categories – allowance for equipment and software, an annual allowance and non-medical personal allowance. For example, a student with dyslexia can use this allowance to access proofreading.
We can also help put in arrangements for students during their exams. For instance, if they need extra time, we can organise that for them. We can also help with deadline extensions if required.Julie Waddell, Inclusion Coordinator at RGU
How is it different from the counselling service?
The Inclusion Mentoring Service takes a holistic approach. We work in partnership with an individual’s mental health provider and teaching staff to support the provision of reasonable adjustments and work towards the successful completion of their course. The counselling service is usually limited to six sessions per semester, but the mentoring service can be accessed throughout the year.
What advice would you give to someone considering signing up?
We encourage students with mental difficulties or any other disabilities to sign up and have a chat. Our biggest group of students have a diagnosis of depression or anxiety. University life can be difficult sometimes and we want to offer as much support as possible.
If you are struggling and need to speak to someone then please reach out to RGU’s counselling and wellbeing team. The Student Counselling & Wellbeing Centre has Counsellors and a Student Wellbeing Advisor who can talk over issues that may be concerning you. We also provide online mental health self-help programmes 24/7 through our Silvercloud platform to help with Anxiety, Stress, Depression and Body Image.