In this issue


Self-harm and suicide: beyond good intentions (free article)
Rob Poole and Catherine Robinson encourage discernment when choosing mental health training on campus

Self-harm – how do we stem the flow?
With services under huge pressure, Jane Darougar advocates training and informing colleagues so that their response to self-harm can be more compassionate

The benefits of psychoeducation for improving sleep quality
Taking a new approach to tackling sleep problems in students bears promising results. Claire Gregor, Luci Wiggs and Aileen Ho report

CAT and MOGS: an empowering approach to self-help in university settings
Can students provide meaningful support for each others? Noeleen Fasolilli believes that they can, and describes how the University of Manchester has integrated student-led support groups into its core provision.

Insomnia – a personal reflection
Yvonne McPartland shares her journey to better sleep

Selling our services: telling our stories and celebrating our success
It’s important that we find ways to communicate positive news with colleagues. Kate Tindle describes an innovative cross-service project at Bangor University.


Stefan Wilson

Divisional news

Notes from FE
Mary Jones

Notes from the Chair
Géraldine Dufour

Notes from HUCS
Alan Percy

Cover of UCC journal, May 2019

Divisional members and subscribers can download the pdf of this issue from the University and College Counselling archive.

From the editor

There’s something about summer, and ends of academic years in particular, that makes me momentarily feel young again. Walking around a campus on graduation days, seeing students in their gowns accompanied by proud parents, is always a joy. All that hard work now rewarded; so much hope – so many dreams. It’s an intoxicating mix that somehow has the power to transport me back to my own graduation day with its combination of pride, relief and excitement that has never been repeated in quite the same way.

And yet…as we all know only too well, student years do not always have happy endings. Our campuses play host to people who are experiencing the full gamut of human emotions. The end of a course does not always signal joy and pride but can evoke anxiety about ‘what next?’, or despair at grades not achieved.

Sometimes, too, there are other, much more painful endings: endings which cut across all expectations and hopes for a person’s life. Suicide is a devastating experience for everyone: family, friends, coursemates, staff. The impact of a friend’s suicide in my final term at university still lingers, nearly 40 years later. In our work, the pain and distress of discovering that a student we have worked with has died can be so hard to bear, triggering many unanswerable questions. Did I do enough? What did I miss? Will I be blamed? Yet – is suicide always preventable? Can our institutions instigate programmes that will make suicide prevention 100 per cent possible? This is a controversial matter eliciting differing, sincerely held views.

In this issue, Rob Poole, Catherine Robinson and Jane Darougar begin an exploration of some of the darker, more tragic aspects of our work: working with self-harm and responding to suicide. These are difficult topics for everyone, but are something that we need to keep thinking and talking about: self-harm now seems commonplace amongst students. Fortunately, student suicide is still a relative rarity. Long may it remain so.

Whatever work has brought you this academic year, I hope you all have enjoyable and relaxing breaks over the summer: they are very well-deserved. 

David Mair