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.”

Bardi Lifesaver for Twitter
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.

Joanne Lymn
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: 

Story credits

More information is available from Josephine NwaAmaka Bardi, School of Health Sciences via email

Emma Rayner - Media Relations Manager, Faculty of Arts
Phone: 0115 748 4413

Notes to editors:

About the University of Nottingham

Ranked 32 in Europe and 16th in the UK by the QS World University Rankings: Europe 2024, the University of Nottingham is a founding member of the Russell Group of research-intensive universities. Studying at the University of Nottingham is a life-changing experience, and we pride ourselves on unlocking the potential of our students. 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.

Nottingham was crowned Sports University of the Year by The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2024 – the third time it has been given the honour since 2018 – and by the Daily Mail University Guide 2024.

The university is among the best universities in the UK for the strength of our research, positioned seventh for research power in the UK according to REF 2021. The birthplace of discoveries such as MRI and ibuprofen, our innovations transform lives and tackle global problems such as sustainable food supplies, ending modern slavery, developing greener transport, and reducing reliance on fossil fuels.

The university is a major employer and industry partner - locally and globally - and our graduates are the second most targeted by the UK's top employers, according to The Graduate Market in 2022 report by High Fliers Research.

We lead the Universities for Nottingham initiative, in partnership with Nottingham Trent University, a pioneering collaboration between the city’s two world-class institutions to improve levels of prosperity, opportunity, sustainability, health and wellbeing for residents in the city and region we are proud to call home.

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