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Student health high on the agenda

7 July 2014

The University hosted a major conference on student health last week, featuring talks by leading academics and health professionals and attracting over 100 delegates from around the UK and abroad.

The University hosted a major conference on student health last week, featuring talks by leading academics and health professionals and attracting over 100 delegates from around the UK and abroad.

The conference is an annual event, funded by the Student Health Association and co-organised with the host university. This year’s conference, Student Health: Building on Past Successes and Facing Future Challenges, opened with a lecture entitled ‘The Pinnacle of Evolution’ by author and television presenter Alice Roberts, Professor of Public Engagement in Science at the University of Birmingham.

The evening lecture was followed by a further two full days of lectures and workshops. Speakers included Professor Emily Holmes from the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, University of Cambridge, who gave a presentation on bipolar disorder, and Dr Kerry Young a consultant clinical psychologist at the Forced Migration Trauma Centre, London, who spoke about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after sexual assault.

Bristol University staff members were well represented among the speakers. Dr Fiona Hayes led a session on mindfulness, and Dr Will Devlin, a consultant psychologist at the Students' Health Service (SHS), spoke on eating disorders. Student Welfare Coordinator Richard Edwards ran a workshop on supporting vulnerable students, and Dr Geetanjali Gangoli, a senior lecturer in the School for Policy Studies, gave a presentation on the topical issue of honour-based violence and forced marriage.

The conference also provided an opportunity for Bristol SHS to showcase some of its innovative services, such as the country’s first primary care-based eating disorder service, its nurse-led prize-winning travel service, and award-winning social media. In a recent research project conducted by Superdrug to find out which university is the best in the UK for its sexual health services, Bristol came out top. Its sexual health service was acclaimed for its ‘forward-thinking delivery methods, setting up dedicated social media profiles to deliver a range of accessible information to help its students make informed choices about their own sexual health needs’. SHS has taken advantage of technology such as Twitter and student blogs, and students can download the Patients Access app to quickly and securely make appointments and order repeat prescriptions.

SHS Director of Service, Dr Dominique Thompson, said: ‘It was a pleasure to welcome colleagues from all over the world, to celebrate new developments and innovations in student health, to share good practice and support each other in a rewarding, albeit sometimes stressful role, helping students to fulfil their academic potential.’

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