Welfare SOS

Wadham has a strong network of welfare advisors  - you’re welcome to talk to any of us about anything. But here’s who we think are your best starting-points for particular issues.

 

What to do if…

You can’t work/have stopped working

Take a step back from your work and think about how you’re feeling.

Are you underslept, underfed? If so, take a break to fix these things first; you might find the work much more manageable afterwards.

If you’re still struggling, then Wadham has a team of Graduate Study Advisors who can talk to you about how you’re approaching your work and managing your time.

It can also be a great idea to talk to your tutor(s) about difficulties with work; they are invested in your academic development. You’re very welcome to take a friend or peer supporter to that meeting if you like; or, if you’re struggling to talk to your tutor(s), you can arrange to meet the Tutor for Undergraduates.The University Counselling Service run a 'Can’t Work' workshop which they’ve also recorded as a podcast

 

You are feeling lonely/missing home

This is a totally normal part of being at University.

Talk to somebody on your staircase - they are probably going through the same thing! Because we know how Oxford can be lonely sometimes, and transition is difficult for everyone, there are lots of casual, easy-to-access drinks and teas organised by SU and MCR Welfare reps - look out for their emails!

Wendy, the Chaplain, holds weekly Breakfast Clubs (Tuesday, 11am) and Afternoon Teas (Thursday, 4pm) where you’ll always receive a warm welcome.

Sometimes, things can build up. If you start to feel isolated and stuck, make an appointment to talk to Wendy (Chaplain) or Emma-Ben (Welfare Advisor), or sign up to visit the Counselling Service. You can also listen to their podcasts for Freshers and International Students .

You are struggling with your mental health

At Wadham, we strive to create an environment which supports mental wellbeing.

Mental health, like physical health, varies over time and can be nurtured and developed.

Self-care is important. You can find ideas for this by looking at the Welfare Advisor’s Tumblr.

The Peer Supporters are a team of trained students who are great to turn to if it feels like self-care isn’t helping any more. Between them, they will have experienced most mental health challenges.

Sometimes, you might not feel comfortable talking to another student; in that case, Wadham’s Welfare Advisor (Emma-Ben) will be really happy to talk confidentially with you about whatever you’re going through.

There’s also a University Counselling Service with forty years’ expertise in supporting students to understand their problems and make positive changes. They produce clinically validated podcasts to help you deal with all sorts of issues, including trouble sleeping, trouble with work and perfectionism, and mindfulness/self-compassion.

(Of course, this is all auxiliary support; if you do have a mental health diagnosis, please stay in touch with an appropriate medical professional. You may also be eligible for support from the Disability Advisory Service)

You are having thoughts of suicide/self-harm

If you are in a dangerous situation: in College, call the Porters’ emergency line [77999]; out of College, call an ambulance [999] or go to the Accident and Emergency Department at the John Radcliffe Hospital.

Not everyone who thinks about suicide or self-harm is necessarily at risk; but the thoughts themselves can be very distressing so it is worth seeking help as soon as possible.

Emma-Ben, the Welfare Advisor, has confidentially supported a number of students in this position and can help you to stay safe and access appropriate support. The same is true for the College GP at 19 Beaumont Street.

If you are worried about somebody else, the Students Against Depression website has produced a guide for how to be helpful while also looking after yourself.

You are worried about your child

It can be really hard to know that your child is having a tough time while they’re away from home at University.

If they contact you in distress, you can look at the rest of this page for ideas of who you could suggest they contact. If you are worried for your child’s immediate safety, and they aren’t willing to reach out to support in Oxford, then you can call the lodge emergency line (01865 277 999), or 999 if they aren’t living in Wadham.

If you contact the Wadham welfare team, please be aware that we can’t discuss your child with you without their consent. However, we can direct you to general resources about how best to support a student in distress, such as Students Against Depression or the Young Minds Parents’ Helpline.

You are concerned about your friend’s drinking, eating or drug use

If you’re able to, gently raise your concern and see if your friend agrees that there is a problem.

They may be very aware and already working on the issue, and have suggestions for how you can help. They may be in denial, or you might be mistaken; so do remember, you can’t make someone seek help if they aren’t ready.

If you don’t feel able to talk to them, or they seem reluctant to talk to you, then you can still be supportive. If you’re worried about someone’s drinking or drug use, then you could suggest or host an event which just happens to be alcohol-free. If you’re worried about someone’s eating, then avoid ‘diet talk’ around them and try to offer low-pressure opportunities to eat together, such as going to refectory.

If you are convinced that your friend has a serious problem, but you realise that you have reached your capacity to offer useful help, you can tell your friend that you are going to have to talk to someone else. It’s best if you can give them a choice - we would suggest the Nurse, Welfare Advisor, Chaplain, or their tutor are good options. None of these people can force your friend to get help either; but sometimes it’s important to remember that you can’t be solely responsible for your friend’s welfare.

Student Minds produce a great guide on looking after your friends.

You or your friend have experienced sexual violence

If you’re in a dangerous situation: in College, call the Porters’ emergency line [77999]; out of College, call the Police [999].

If this has just happened: OUSU have produced a 'First Responder App' to talk you through what you can do in the immediate aftermath of sexual violence. The University Website also talks you through your options. If you need to visit a Sexual Assault Referral Centre, any member of the college Welfare team (including sub-Deans and student Welfare Officers) can order a free, anonymous taxi for you .

At any time: Welfare Advisor (Emma-Ben) has worked for many years with Oxford Rape Crisis, and will talk to you in confidence about any experiences that are troubling you.

The University has collected together a list of possible sources of support including specialists at the Counselling Service and anonymous telephone helplines.

You are being bullied/harassed

Harassment can be a confusing, distressing, and invalidating experience.

Even a single unwanted action or interaction can count as harassment under the College’s Harassment Policy; but many don’t wish to invoke that formal approach. (Though just in case there’s any chance you might want to do this, it’s useful to keep a written record of what’s happened.)

You don’t have to decide straight away. At any point, you can consult a Harassment Advisor (informally or formally), and they can help you work out what the process might look like, without committing you to anything. There are also tutors and student reps for liberation groups like race and LGBT+ who can help with any issues relating to targeted harassment. More

Your key relationships have broken down

Relationships at college can be very intense sometimes, because of how closely together we all live.

There may be times when you feel like you have nobody to talk to, and don’t know where to turn.

Peer supporters understand this, and can be really helpful to talk to if social stuff gets difficult. You can talk to someone from a different subject or year group (or even college) who can empathise with what’s going on without being directly involved.

Wendy, the Chaplain, has a background in systemic therapy and is happy to listen or mediate in complex situations.

You have lost a loved one

Wendy Wale the College Chaplain, is experienced in supporting people who have lost loved ones - please do drop in to see her.

She would welcome you to light a candle in the ante-chapel as a gesture of remembrance, an act which can be meaningful for people of any faith or none.

The Loss Foundation run a group in conjunction with Student Minds, where you can spend time with other students who have experienced loss.

You have issues related to gender and sexuality

The SU and MCR have LGBT+ officers and trans reps to represent and support a full range of gender and sexual diversity, however you label your experiences.

Emma-Ben, the Welfare Advisor, is comfortable talking about any gender and sexuality issues, and won’t make any judgements or expect you to come to any particular conclusions. It’s ok to not know.

LGBT+ people exist outside the University Bubble as well. For example, Oxford Friend is a phone and email support service for anyone living in the city.

If your issues around gender or sexuality relate to how other people are treating you, you may wish to read the section about harassment.