‘Exeter Biosciences researchers using the new hockey equipment at Streatham sports hall’, photo credit Rebecca Millard.

Exeter Biosciences researchers using the new hockey equipment at Streatham sports hall. Photo credit Rebecca Millard.

Exeter Annual Fund delivers postgraduates a sporty wellbeing boost

Biosciences PhD student, Rebecca Millard, has been awarded a grant of £320 by the University of Exeter Annual Fund to set up weekly indoor hockey sessions to enhance mental wellbeing for Exeter’s postgraduate researcher community.

The average day for a postgraduate research student within the School of Biosciences consists of long, unsociable work hours often spent isolated within laboratories or in front of computers. Whilst the quality of science produced at the University of Exeter is internationally recognised and often world-leading, the hidden costs to mental health are seldom recognised with the potential for researchers to work themselves to the point of illness.

There are currently over 250 postgraduate researchers and further postdoctoral researchers working within the School of Biosciences at the University of Exeter. Recent studies estimate that approximately one third of these are researchers are at risk of, or already suffering from, some form of psychiatric disorder.

This project aims to challenge the culture of acceptance of mental health issues in academia by offering regular indoor hockey sessions for Biosciences researchers. By promoting breaks from their daily routines, these sessions will allow students and staff to get away from their offices, interact with one other, and provide an opportunity for exercise which can benefit both physical and mental health. It is not a requirement that you have any hockey ability or competitive drive as these sessions are aimed at being relaxed and inclusive.

Weekly sessions organised by PhD student Cameron Hird will begin starting October 2017 using brand new indoor hockey equipment acquired using the funding, including: half-size goals, hockey sticks, balls and bibs. It is hoped that the success of this project will inspire further projects to enhance mental wellbeing within academic communities.

Postgraduate students, postdoctoral researchers and staff from across the Biosciences department who are interested in getting involved are encouraged to contact Cameron via email at ch573@exeter.ac.uk  for further information and details of where and when sessions will run.

Article written by Rebecca Millard, Biosciences PressGang

Date: 27 September 2017

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