Student Union Officers and staff from across the UK came together at the NEC in Birmingham on Wednesday 5 July to recognise the excellent work within the student movement.
The 'It's OK' campaign was launched in November 2016 by the last team of Student Officers, and aimed to tackle the stigma surrounding mental health and promote and improve support services at Manchester Met.
Molly Maher, Campaigns Co Ordinator at The Union said:
“Our outgoing and returning Officers should be incredibly proud of what they've achieved through the campaign. Their creativity and honesty about mental health has inspired a community of students to take action and share their stories. From big, participatory events to more intimate and personal sessions, this campaign has engaged, supported and sustained the energy of passionate students.
The campaign took a two-pronged approach, raising awareness about and engaging with the diversity of mental health needs, as well as making tangible and long term change to the services provided by the University.”
Events throughout the 'It's OK' campaign included the highly successful launch, which saw a giant inflatable obstacle course pop up outside The Union in Manchester and Crewe, as well as regular meet ups where people could come along and have a chat.
The campaign also had an impact in securing significant extra resources for the University's Counselling, Health and Wellbeing Service. This included a new senior counsellor post, 3 extra counsellors and cognitive behavioural therapy specialists, a drug and alcohol worker, and five new mental health and wellbeing mentors. The Student Case Management Team now include mental health issues as an exceptional factor, and The Union is continuing to work with the University to deliver a new Student Wellbeing Strategy in 2017/18.
The judges thought that 'It's OK' was "a simple tagline with a serious campaign behind it" and made mention of the MMU Mind Festival, which took place in March 2017, calling it “a great platform to bring students together to both raise awareness and make positive change". The day involved a number of events, activities and student-led workshops including meditation, a non-binary transition workshop, tips for wellbeing from student enterprise MetMUnch, as well as an evening panel discussion with mental health and wellbeing experts.
The NUS Awards celebrate the work done by Student Union’s across the country. Now in its eighth year, the Awards give SUs the opportunity to receive national recognition for their efforts. The Awards are judged by an experienced panel from across the education sector and beyond.
The Campaigns Award recognises inclusive and impactful campaigns that empower unions, improve students' lives or campaign on issues faced by their members.