Practical strategies to support your mental health

Chartered Psychologist Dr Ruth Collins was appointed Staff Mental Health Training Coordinator in 2021 and delivers mental health awareness training to staff at all levels across the University.

The importance of taking care of your mental health

Mental health problems are common. Approximately 1 in 4 adults experience symptoms associated with mental health difficulties. These might include everything from low mood and anxiety through to more serious mental health problems such as major depression or an eating disorder. Mental health awareness can help you to identify the early signs of poor mental health in yourself and in others and give you the confidence to engage with and to offer support and signposting to individuals in distress.

Although there is now much less stigma around having mental health problems, some individuals may respond to changes in their own mental health by withdrawing as a way of ‘coping’ with how they are feeling, meaning that vital opportunities to get support at an early stage may be missed. If problems are not addressed early this can result in the persistence of mental distress, and alienation from friends, family, peers, and colleagues potentially compromising a person’s wellbeing, or even their life.

Early intervention gives someone the best chance of resolving their difficulties and learning healthy practices to maintain good mental health and wellbeing.

Practical strategies to promote good mental health

There are many things we can do to protect our own mental health:

  • Keep connected: High levels of social support are associated with good mental and physical health. Invest time in developing and maintaining good relationships with friends, family, and colleagues.
  • Find meaning in everyday life: Research shows that having a sense of meaning and purpose in what we do, and how we spend our time allows us to be more resilient in the face of stress and adversity.
  • Keep active: Regular exercise is associated with better psychological and physical health. Choose exercise you enjoy which you know you are more likely to sustain. Walking, particularly in nature, is known to boost mood and reduce anxiety. 
  • Manage your stress levels: There is a close connection between our daily routines, activities, and moods. When we are stressed, we often give up the things we enjoy, and which nourish us. See if you can add a few simple activities into your daily life which can nourish and uplift you.
  • Reach out when you need help: Practise asking for help and be receptive when it is offered. Talking about your feelings and fears to someone you trust is a key feature of good mental health as well as being a valuable coping mechanism. Remember, you are not alone!

Find out more about Mental Health Awareness Training for Staff

Ruth’s remit is to deliver a unified programme of mental health training and a consistent approach to student welfare across the institution. To date she has delivered training to more than 1000 staff. Her role has now expanded to offering mental health awareness training to staff wishing to support their colleagues in the workplace. Contact Ruth at for further information and to discuss your training requests.


Dr Ruth Collins will deliver an Introduction to Mental Health Awareness session as part of the upcoming Thriving at Oxford 2023 event series. 


MPLS Mental Health Awareness Week programme (15 - 21 May) 

MPLS are offering free talks, workshops and creative activities aimed at supporting our mental health, along with opportunities to access a wealth of local support and services. There's still time to sign up for some sessions, and to register for daily emails providing tips and resources. Find out more here.


Wellbeing event series: 12-23 June