All undergraduate and postgraduate students on health and social care courses were invited to attend to take part in interactive workshops, listen to speakers and a meet with local health and social care providers to gain an insight to their work.
The conference began with a speech from Vice-Chancellor Peter Neil, followed by a 45-minute keynote speech by Professor Dean Fathers who discussed his 30-year career across senior roles across commercial, public and university sectors.
Students were able to take part in four workshops, including those hosted by the Night Light Café, Veterans’ Support Service and Dark Side Rising, plus an interactive game of wheelchair basketball to get everyone moving in an inclusive activity.
There was also the opportunity to chat with local organisations including Refugee Dr, Acis Group, Carers’ First, Lincolnshire County Council, Lincoln City FC – Team Talk – Men’s Mental Health Programme, The Power of Resilience, Every-one, Lincs Fire and Rescue, Better Births and Active Lincolnshire.
The student planning committee comprised of Kayleigh Denman (BSc (Hons) Health and Social Care), Nishanthi Govindharajulu (MA Health and Social Care Leadership), Natasha Kazi (MA Health and Social Care Leadership) and Tanya Taylor (BSc Health and Social Care).
Nicki Walsh, Programme Leader for Health and Social Care, said: “The pandemic has highlighted the demand and fragilities of the health and social care sector, and events like these with a range of workshops and activities to help create the next generation compassionate and supportive health and social care graduates ready to meet the needs of the community and employers.”
“Students organising this event around the theme of mental health and wellbeing demonstrates the areas of interest within those learning to go into the sector, and this conference gave them and local employers the opportunity to collaborate and learn from each other to provide flexible and adaptable solutions across Lincolnshire and beyond.”
Natasha Kazi, part of the student planning committee, said: “I have participated in many conferences but to be involved in arranging the event is a unique experience. Therefore, I was excited when Nicki mentioned the conference in the class and whether we would like to get involved. I knew right away that this was something I wanted to participate and I am glad I did. This experience was truly remarkable; I regularly gained value from the meetings to discuss the event's progress and work with the fantastic conference committee members.
“Being a medical practitioner and experiencing burnout in the past years, I am glad we chose mental health as our topic for our very first student-led conference. My takeaway from the conference is that everyone is on an individual journey, and that is what we should celebrate. Being kind and inclusivity is the key factors. My favourite part of the day is the speech by Professor Dean and the Wheelchair Basketball; what a fantastic experience. I want to thank our lecturers and my fellow committee members for being such an inspiration—also, a big shoutout to everyone who came and supported us.”
Nishanthi Govindharajulu, added: “As a planning committee member, I am so delighted to inform that ‘Mental health and Wellbeing’ Student conference was an eye opener for me about mental health. This gave me the opportunity to expose my leadership skills with self - confidence and teamwork strategies. The speciality of the conference was like democracy, as conducted "by, for and of the students".
“All the students and I enjoyed and learned a lot about Veteran Support services, wheelchair football, Night Light Cafe and Dark Side Rising. Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make healthy choices.
“Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood to older age. In my future, I wish to work as a volunteer for mental health service and would like to reduce the suicidal rates in my country. Thanks for the opportunity given by the university, tutors and senior lecturers and friends to learn about mental health and well-being.”
Kayleigh Denman, said: "I am really proud of what everyone has achieved! I feel I have become a lot more confident with speaking up about my ideas and opinions! This experience has been a great confidence boost for me and I’ve really come out of my shell!
"The conference went well thank you! Feel really proud of what the team has achieved, all the stress and hard work payed off!"