4 ways to strengthen your support networks

Colouring in sheet at Feel Good Fest

  • 04 May 2020
  • 7 min read

The key to a well-regulated soothing system is to map out and make full use of all the connections and support available and to contribute to the support networks of others.

Here at the University of Portsmouth our mission and values, and our Student Charter, underpin a strong ethos of mutual respect, inclusion and support.

Doubling down and strengthening these networks of support is the most important single thing you can do in the current crisis. Use this checklist to reflect on whether you are using your support network effectively: 

1. Do you need practical support?

When we are facing danger and uncertainty, our focus needs to go first to ensuring our basic needs are being met - somewhere safe to stay where we are secure enough to rest, sufficient resources and access to cover our basic needs for food and other supplies, contact with loved ones and other regular human contact.

If you are having difficulty with any of these things then please check the Coronavirus FAQs page for up to date information about support from the University, and email infoline@port.ac.uk or call +44 (0)23 9284 5588 to let the University know what you need.

For medical advice check the NHS 111 and/or contact your doctor.

Many additional measures have been put in place to offer additional practical support for students, from welfare calls to identify practical needs of those still in Portsmouth to additional financial support funds for those in need.

2. Are you in touch with academic staff?

Your personal tutor or research supervisor will be aiming to stay in touch with you. Look out for emails and respond to attempts to contact you. The University is fully committed to ensuring that students are supported so that they can still achieve their learning outcomes, and that their degree outcomes maintain their value despite the circumstances. 

Do bear in mind that your tutors and lecturers are human too, and also affected by the pandemic - they will be doing their best to safeguard and support your learning, and you can help them by responding to communication and letting them know what kind of help you need to be able to engage with the online learning they have worked so hard to make available.

During stressful times it can be difficult having compassion for how you're feeling. But it's important to manage challenging feelings and think about your wellbeing and self-care.

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3. What else can you do to support your wellbeing?

Even when we do have access to basic resources, in times of danger and uncertainty we need to pay extra attention to our mental wellbeing too. It is natural to feel stressed and anxious in the current circumstances, so what extra steps are you taking to help yourself manage this understandable stress?

Why not make a regular commitment to your wellbeing by signing up to the weekly Virtual Wellbeing Cafe or our online mindfulness sessions? 

And remember that the Student Wellbeing Service and all the other university support services are also still available to you, wherever you are, if you need extra support to maintain your wellbeing in the face of the current challenges. Register online as usual for one-to-one via phone or zoom Wellbeing sessions.

Or download the WhatsUp app to keep tabs on your mood, receive daily inspirational notifications and get support from Wellbeing practitioners via text-based chat.

4. How could you also support others?

Don’t forget that supporting others is also beneficial for engaging your soothing system. Even when you are having a tough time yourself, you could make a real difference to others. Complying with social distancing, and supporting those around you to manage the stresses of lockdown is a great starting point. 

What else can you do to help those around you during these difficult times? How about checking in with others on your course to create virtual study groups for extra support with online learning?

You could also make a difference to your fellow students by sharing your experiences and strategies - find out more on student leadership.

Wellbeing Charter consultation

The University is working with the Students' Union to develop a Wellbeing Charter for staff and students. Having drafted some principles and commitments of this University-wide approach to Wellbeing, the task group is asking for your feedback to help define the final version. The survey will be open from 9am 1st May to 8am 25th May.
Please complete the survey.

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