Mental Health Awareness Week 8-14 May 2017 – Resilience Skills are Transferable Skills
This week - in Mental Health Awareness Week (MHAW) - I’ve concluded the last of six core sessions of what is now an annual programme of resilience skills training for our one-year MSc course in Environmental Technology at Imperial College London. I see the programme as an integral part of transferable skills training – those skills and attributes now seen as at least as important by employers as the qualifications our students leave with. Indeed, by seeing mental health resilience skills as part of transferable skills we can begin to break down the reluctance of some to even consider going to a mindfulness or relaxation class. Building awareness by making it just an everyday part of the curriculum is key – and providing resilience skills that help people to deal with whatever life may throw at them more effectively can help prevent them suffering more severe mental health problems in the future - and thrive not just survive (the theme of this year’s MHAW).
Within the programme I cover mindfulness, applied relaxation, understanding stress (and how anxiety relates to stress), assertiveness skills, problem solving skills and setting mindfulness in a wider values-based context (acceptance and commitment). These directly support students (and PhD students and staff to whom the programme is also open) in dealing with exams and work deadlines and in developing a more mindful approach to learning/working (enjoying learning rather than being focused on outcomes/results), and assertiveness and problem solving directly helps with working in groups/team work. Understanding the importance of values (and not just goals) is also critical in career planning so you end up doing something you enjoy and feel is worthwhile for you.
Many students and staff – once exposed to the basic principles of mindfulness and relaxation – maybe relaxing in a way never before experienced – find these resilience skills very valuable, sometimes bringing about a complete turnaround in the way they view their time at University and their approach to life. And for me the focus has to be on the individual’s health and well-being for their own sake, not because of any impact it might have on their performance as a potential or actual employee (something I fear that is all too often the focus for many stress management courses). Ultimately, your own mental health and well-being is more important than that deadline or unachievable demand being placed upon you.
Thriving, not just surviving!
Bill Sheate, 11 May 2017