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University mental health champion named among Nation’s Lifesavers

Thursday, 16 May 2019
Josephine Bardi is #MadeAtUni

An inspirational University of Nottingham nursing researcher has been named among the Nation’s Lifesavers for her exceptional contribution to keeping the nation healthy.

Josephine NwaAmaka Bardi, Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) PhD mental health and wellbeing student from the School of Health Sciences, is one of 100 people or groups at universities in the UK whose work is saving lives and making a life-changing difference to our health and wellbeing.

Josephine was honoured today as part of a campaign by Universities UK called MadeAtUni which highlights the impact of universities on the wider population. She has led her own national lobby called Raising Awareness of Mental Health in Higher Education (RAMHHE) which is the first student-led initiative in the country.

From Nigeria to London... to Nottingham

Josephine’s campaign was prompted by her personal experiences of working with people with mental illness – from her early days of volunteering with a homeless charity in London after arriving from her home in Nigeria, to working as a mental health nurse and receiving the ESRC funding to research activity at The Dragon Café in Southwark, the UK’s first mental health café. Her time as a PhD student at Nottingham, Associate Staff member at the London School of Economics and Political Science and Lecturer at the University of East London has focused her recent efforts on mental health among students in higher education. 

Agatha Adogho, Jennifer Akuamoah-Boateng, Liz Charalambous, Jo Bardi

Talking mental health on campus

Josephine said: “It is extremely gratifying to be named as one of the Nation’s Lifesavers by Universities UK. I am both honoured and thankful for this because for me RAMHHE is more than just students, it is about friends and family members, and the communities that students come from, it is about everyone. I see myself as an embodiment of all that RAMHHE stands for…I was once an international student, now a lecturer and a PhD student. With the RAMHHE campaign, I hope that universities will put systems in place such as student-led on-campus campaigns to enable anti-stigma and all-inclusive space where students and staff can engage in collective dialogue about mental health. This would allow students’ voices to be heard in the development, implementation and evaluation of mental health interventions. More importantly, universities can develop student-informed mental health interventions.

“I would like to add that this award also goes to everyone who has supported the RAMHHE campaign, especially university students around the world who have taken part, both face to face and online. I think the MadeAtUni campaign is a great chance to celebrate the many ways universities are having a significant impact on our everyday lives.”

It is vital that universities develop student-informed mental health interventions. In the absence of positive mental health, the student experience is hindered, and academic attainment may be limited.
Josephine Bardi

Josephine has written several blogs on her work and experiences on Nursing Times, ProtectED and for the Institute of Mental Health. Her new mental health research model for university lecturers is soon to be published in the Nurse Educator journal.

This nomination is a significant accolade for Josephine, for her invaluable work in reducing the stigma surrounding mental health in higher education and promoting greater inclusivity and compassion for those with mental health issues.
Professor Joanne Lymn, Head of School of Health Sciences

Professor Dame Janet Beer, President Universities UK, said: “When people think of lifesavers they tend to focus on the dedication and skill of our doctors, nurses, carers, and paramedics – many of whom are trained at universities. Every day, up and down the country, universities are also working on innovations to transform and save lives. Research taking place in universities is finding solutions to so many of the health and wellbeing issues we care about and the causes that matter.

“By proudly working in partnership with charities, the NHS and healthcare organisations, universities are responsible for some of our biggest health breakthroughs and in revolutionising the delivery of care.

“This campaign is a chance to bring to life the wonderful and often unexpected work going on every day in our universities and to celebrate some of the people working to make a life-changing difference to the nation.”

Research shows the public are proud of UK universities but have little understanding of the benefits they bring, with most not being aware that UK academics are behind many of the discoveries that save lives and keep up healthy. The MadeAtUni campaign gives the public an insight into some of this work and celebrates those who made it happen. More information on the campaign can be found on the dedicated website: www.madeatuni.org.uk 

Story credits

More information is available from Josephine NwaAmaka Bardi, School of Health Sciences via email josephine.bardi@nottingham.ac.uk

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Notes to editors: 

The University of Nottingham is a research-intensive university with a proud heritage, consistently ranked among the world's top 100. Studying at the University of Nottingham is a life-changing experience and we pride ourselves on unlocking the potential of our 44,000 students - Nottingham was named both Sports and International University of the Year in the  2019 Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide, was awarded gold in the TEF 2017 and features in the top 20 of all three major UK rankings. We have a pioneering spirit, expressed in the vision of our founder Sir Jesse Boot, which has seen us lead the way in establishing campuses in China and Malaysia - part of a globally connected network of education, research and industrial engagement. We are ranked eighth for research power in the UK according to REF 2014. We have six beacons of research excellence helping to transform lives and change the world; we are also a major employer, proud of our Athena SWAN silver award, and a key industry partner- locally and globally.

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