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Students to benefit from online mental health support over Christmas


A social enterprise has joined forces with West Highland College UHI to offer online mental health support of the festive period

A social enterprise will be providing vital mental health support to students this festive period.

The Wise Group has been running its virtual Re-Connect CBT group therapy since June in response to the rise in mental health struggles during the pandemic. Now, the social enterprise is partnering with West Highland College to offer a bespoke programme of support for students who are unable to return home over the festive period.

The Re-Connect CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) sessions – beginning on 21 December and running  throughout the festive period – will focus on managing anxiety and worry, self-esteem, coping strategies, managing stress and unhelpful thinking and are delivered by a team of experienced counsellors via Zoom.

Alex Cochrane, counsellor at the Wise Group, said: “Students have been on an emotional rollercoaster this year and, faced with a Christmas away from home, Re-Connect CBT will offer a lifeline for students at West Highland College UHI who find themselves struggling with feelings of anxiety, depression or anger.

"Our trained counsellors will provide a self-care toolkit to minimise the impact of mental ill health, improve emotional and psychological wellbeing and reduce the impact of isolation resulting from Covid-19.”

Lesley Hawkins, head of student support at the college, explained: “West Highland College UHI is working to ensure that all students have access to a number of different options to support them whilst the college is closed. 

"We feel that The Wise Group’s offer of sessions focusing on specific topics complements the other support options available to our students.  It was important to us that support would offered from a team of qualified and experienced counsellors who have provided these services to others during the pandemic and who were therefore fully aware of the different emotions that our students may be facing.”

The programme was launched for 17 weeks in the summer for people struggling with their mental health during the coronavirus pandemic. Almost 200 sessions were hosted by its team of counsellors and the pilot received an overwhelmingly positive response, including:

  • 98%  would recommend a friend or family  
  • 90% stated they felt an improvement in wellbeing as a result 
  • 79% felt they have tools to cope better  

A programme of one hour group sessions will cover topics including anxiety and worry, self-esteem, coping strategies, managing stress and unhelpful thinking. Each Re-Connect CBT session is completely standalone to allow students to attend as many or as few as they feel they need.

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