Postgraduate student mental health is increasingly at the forefront of media and higher education discourse. Across the UK, many universities have taken up strategies to support students’ mental health, and rightly so, with PhD students experiencing stress, anxiety and depression. In Suffolk, there are various health and wellbeing activities available to our students and staff. Furthermore, researchers and PhD students at the University of Suffolk are involved in shaping the current investigation and provision regarding student mental health in higher education, for example, through our involvement in the SMARTEN Network and UEA Courage Project.
Nonetheless, the role of building social relationships in improving the mental health of academics has received comparatively little attention, which in itself is concerning given that some research has identified lower levels of wellbeing across academics in comparison to other professions. Recent research across seven neighbourhoods in England has shown that social relationships are valuable and can positively affect people’s well-being. Using social network analysis, and a wellbeing survey of 2,840 people, the researchers at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLAN) and the Personal Social Services Research Unit at the London School of Economics found that social connectedness correlates more strongly with wellbeing than social or economic characteristics, for example, long-term illness, unemployment or being a single parent.
The new Research Society Socials (RSS) was formed by a group of research staff who wanted to provide more social events for researchers across the University. Every month, we plan to meet for happy hour at a bar (drink, don't drink, it doesn't matter, alternative options abound), fun and games, and chat, talk shop or don’t, it really is all about unwinding and taking a break to meet with other researchers. Our research community is better and stronger when we connect with each other and there are significant health and wellbeing benefits too.
While this is a research staff-initiated activity, we are an inclusive and friendly bunch so we're opening it up to all aspiring researchers – if you do research or just want to know what it is like to do research, you are very much welcome to attend and join in the fun.
The first trial event* was at the Superbowl in Ipswich. 9 people attended this event. Interestingly, Superbowl chose to split us into all male team and an all-female team. Our recollections of this event is that each team won a match, so are calling it a draw!
* The first event was a huge success and we gratefully acknowledge the encouragement and support received from our Director of Research, Prof Emma Bond!
Next RSS events and dates! Not to be missed.
- Escape rooms - (booking essential!): Thursday 18th April (6pm –8pm)
- Pimms o’ research – The Forge: Wednesday 22nd May (6pm –8pm)
- Ninja Tag - Superbowl Ipswich – (booking essential!) Wednesday 12th June (6pm –8pm)
To book or join the RSS mailing list, please email Katie: firstname.lastname@example.org