Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Welcome to the MPLS Mental Health Awareness Week 2024 programme! Since 2021, MPLS has been running a week-long programme of activities in May for anyone across the University who wants to prioritise their mental health.

Mental Health Awareness Week bannerThis year’s theme is ‘moving for your mental health’, and we want to focus on moving the mind as well as the body. So along with lots of walks, guided tours and physical activities, we are also offering a number of training, workshops and learning opportunities that focus on your mind and to improve awareness and understanding around mental health.

Along with our week-long programme, we will also share daily emails throughout the week. These will highlight local and University resources and support services, as well as lots of useful information to get everyone thinking about their mental health.

Our full programme is below. Please use the Form to register your interest for any sessions and our daily emails. We will be in touch soon to confirm if you have a place. While all across the University are welcome to attend any of our sessions, where there are capacity limits we will prioritise MPLS staff and students.

If you have any queries or comments or are unable to use the form, please contact us via



Monday 13 May



ACTIVITY: 20 minute Gratitude Meditation Session

Life can feel really hard at times. The demands of work, family and the daily grind can accumulate, impacting both our mental and physical wellbeing. And, because we feel so busy, we neglect the importance of slowing down and pumping the brakes for a chance to reset.

That's why, for Mental Health Awareness Week this year, we are inviting you to take a moment to pause and recalibrate. Rebecca Reed (founder of Siendo) will be joining us on Zoom to take us through a 20-minute guided meditation so that you can start your Monday off the right way. No matter whether you're new to meditation or a meditation Jedi, this session will provide you with a beautiful moment of calm and tranquillity.



ACTIVITY: Creative Workshop with Ark-T - Embracing Uncertainty

Capacity 30

Exploring emotional responses in uncertain times

By connecting with people through shared experiences and anxieties, we can build new hope. In this workshop, we will explore abstract image-making techniques, individually and/or as a group. We will build trust within ourselves and our environment. We will let go of control and try to rely on the people around us for support. We will experience the feeling of letting go of things we can’t always control.




IN-PERSON, Botanic Garden                                                                     

ACTIVITY: Wellbeing Walk in the Botanic Garden

Capacity 20 for each tour

Join Stephen Harris, the Druce Curator of the Oxford Herbaria, who will be giving us a behind the scenes tour of some of the botanical treasures in the Oxford Botanic Garden. Oxford Botanic Garden was established in 1621 with the intent of being a place to aid the teaching of medicine in the University. This tour will introduce the history of the Garden from its foundation and show how the function of Garden changed over four centuries. The focus will be on the personalities who made and used the Garden and the plants that are grown.

Tuesday 14 May


IN-PERSON, Ashmolean Museum

ACTIVITY: Private view of Bruel to Rubens: Great Flemish Drawings exhibition at the Ashmolean

Capacity 80

Start your morning with a stroll through the tranquil and inspirational galleries of the Ashmolean Museum by enjoying exclusive private access to their current special exhibition, Bruel to Rubens: Great Flemish Drawings. From remarkable print designs and landscapes and Rubens’s first sketches to heartfelt friendship albums shared between artists, this major exhibition presents drawings from many of the Flemish masters, rarely seen in public. Teas and coffees will be served in the Rooftop Restaurant from 08:30, followed by a private access to the exhibition from 09:00 - 10:00. 



TRAINING: Being an effective bystander

What does it mean to be an effective bystander? How do we best challenge behaviours and practices which can have a negative impact on staff and students or result in some people being at a disadvantage to others? Join Hannah Ravenswood (MPLS ED&I Facilitator – Training and Development) as we explore how to feel more confident and empowered to be an effective bystander. This session is open to all staff and students.


IN-PERSON, MPR room at the University Club on Mansfield Road

ACTIVITY: Fitsteps!

Capacity 12

Do you enjoy dancing? Fitsteps is a fitness approach based on ballroom and latin dancing but without the need for partners or experience. Good for body, mind and soul!

I discovered Fitsteps a few years ago and have found it a brilliant way to access dancing, and fitness, without needing experience or a partner – anyone can have a go. I will demonstrate both low and high impact moves for each dance so you can work at your own pace, and indeed you can take breaks throughout as you need to.


IN-PERSON, University Parks

ACTIVITY: Wellbeing Walk with Wolfie

Capacity 20

Looking for a way to destress during Mental Health Awareness Week? Come meet Wolfie, the calm and friendly dog and his owner Michaela, for a relaxing stroll that will give you the opportunity to take a break with a lovely four-legged friend. We will also be joined by some of the MPLS Mental Health First Aiders who will be more than happy to talk about what it’s like being a trained MHFAer and how we provide support.


IN-PERSON, Thom Building                                                                      

TALK: Perfectionism - understanding it and strategies to manage it, with Sara Hitchens

Many of us value high standards in our academic, extra-curricular and personal activities. For some, however, the relentless pursuit of excessively high standards can become self-defeating. In those instances, the pursuit of perfection rather than excellence can contribute to high levels of anxiety, stress and low mood.

This presentation will offer an opportunity to think about how perfectionism develops, the costs and benefits, and some of the consequences, particularly procrastination. We will look at some strategies to support alternative, more effective approaches.

Sara is a Senior Accredited member of the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP). She has worked for the Oxford University Counselling Service for the last six years, both as a Counsellor and Supervisor.


IN-PERSON, Pitt Rivers Museum

ACTIVITY: Multaka Tour at the Pitt Rivers Museum

Capacity 15

Multaka ("meeting point" in Arabic) Oxford is a project bringing people together to share experience, knowledge and skills and be a platform for cultural dialogue. This tour explores themes of social and familial relationships, death and afterlife, art, recycling, and everyday technologies.

Wednesday 15 May


IN-PERSON, Radcliffe Observatory Quarter

Bike Doctor Drop-In (not bookable, just turn up!)

A special one-off mobile mechanic session for Mental Health Awareness Week. Have your bike looked over and repaired, with no labour costs for University staff as long as you use the bike to travel to and from work or on University business. Bring your bike and University card along to the Radcliffe Observatory Quarter for a cycle health check!


IN-PERSON, Harcourt Arboretum

ACTIVITY: Wellbeing Walk at Harcourt Arboretum

Capacity 20

Take some time to reconnect with nature on this gentle wellbeing walk at Harcourt Arboretum, Nuneham Courtney. This informal guided walk for Mental Health Awareness Week will take in some highlights of the Arboretum including the wildflower meadow, mature woodland and conservation projects, as well as our ever-inquisitive peafowl! We will use our senses to appreciate the beauty of the natural world. We’ll also learn about amazing plants at the Arboretum and the work being done to conserve them.

Harcourt Arboretum is in the village of Nuneham Courtney, 20 minutes from Oxford by X40 bus from the High Street. Parking is free. We will also explore organising transport so will be in touch closer to the week to see how you plan to get there. 

Entry is free with your University card. Meet at the Welcome Pod. Please dress appropriately for the weather.



TRAINING: Cultivating resilience and self-care for ourselves and others

What does it mean to be resilient, what does self-care really mean and how can we best support ourselves and others? In this session, Hannah Ravenswood (MPLS ED&I Facilitator – Training and Development) will explore what it means to be resilient, and will work with the group to identify practical tools and techniques to support ourselves and others. This session is open to all staff and students.



WORKSHOP: Having difficult conversations

Join members of the MPLS Resolution Service as we explore why breakdowns in communication can occur and how to have effective and productive conversations to improve working relationships. In this session we will identify some practical tips to help individuals try to resolve misunderstandings and difficult conversations in the workplace. 



ACTIVITY: Uncomfortable Oxford Tour (Classic)

Capacity 20

The perfect introductory tour of Oxford, this tour of the city centre engages with historical memory in the city and university.It platforms diverse stories while discussing histories of empire, race, class, and gender, highlighting how these narratives have an enduring impact on our modern lives.



PANEL DISCUSSION: Mental Health and the Thriving Research Group: A discussion by Outstanding Supervisor Award Winners

Join winners and nominators of MPLS’ Outstanding Supervisor Awards to discuss the importance of understanding and supporting a mental health aware research group. Chaired by Prof Jim Naismith, panellists will discuss how mental health is facilitated their research groups before inviting audience participation about what works and what doesn’t work, suggesting approaches and inviting questions from audience members. While this event is targeted at researchers and research leaders, all are welcome. 

We are delighted to confirm that our panel for this event consists of:

  • Chair: Prof Jim Naismith (Head of MPLS Division)
  • Prof Matt Jarvis: Outstanding Supervisor Awardee (Associate Head for People in MPLS, and Professor of Astrophysics)
  • Idris Kempf: Nominator (Postdoc Research Assistant, Engineering Science)
  • Dr Barbara Maciejewska: Outstanding Supervisor Awardee (Research Fellow in the Department of Materials)
  • Prof Gail Preston: Outstanding Supervisor Awardee (Professor of Plant-Microbe Interactions)
  • Yao Yao: Nominator (DPhil Student, Oxford Robotics Institute)


IN-PERSON, Thom Building

TALK: Thriving at Oxford Wellbeing Programme, with Frances Parkes

Frances Parkes, Staff Wellbeing Manager, will deliver a presentation showcasing the evidence-base for the Staff Wellbeing Programme and the resources and services available tp you through the programme. The aim is to provide you with the tools to support your own wellbeing whether related to your mental health, social relationships or financial wellbeing, and to encourage sharing this support with colleagues.


IN-PERSON, Islamic Studies Centre                                                 

ACTIVITY: Islamic Studies Centre Tour 

Capacity 20

Join us for a guided tour of The Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies, as we walk through its formal gardens, admire its unique architecture - which blends the features of traditional Oxford colleges with the forms and styles of the classical period of Islam – and learn about its contributions to the study of the Islamic world.

Thursday 16 May



TALK/WORKSHOP: Strategies for Stress Management and Burnout Prevention with Oxfordshire Mind

Capacity 20

In this interactive, two-hour workshop with Katie from Oxfordshire Mind, we will explore stress and learn about our personal unique stress signatures. We will also discuss burnout and the physical side effects of stress on our bodies and wellbeing, along with some useful techniques and strategies to support ourselves moving forwards. Please note: as this is an interactive session participants will be asked to keep their cameras on to enable group interaction.



TALK/WORKSHOP: Let's Talk About The Menopause

Capacity 20

The ‘change’, ‘the time of life’ – call it what you will, the fact is that all women go through a perimenopause and a menopause stage of life. Yet, it is often still a subject of embarrassment and myths, which can lead to women feeling isolated and lonely, coping alone with a major transitional phase in their life.

Did you know there are a huge range of symptoms including anxiety, joint pain and depression that can be part of the menopause? It’s not just about hot flushes that we identify with the menopause.

The aim of the workshop is to:

  • Learn about the peri menopause and the menopause stage in life
  • Explore what we can do to help ourselves and others during and leading up to the menopause to help feel less alone and isolated.
  • Understand the emotional and physical challenges of this stage in a women’s life
  • Look at how peri and the menopause can affect work and relationships

All in a safe confidential space. Handouts and further reading will be provided. The workshop is facilitated by Jayne Wright who is an experienced group facilitator.



TALK: Samaritans - How to listen and support those facing a tough time

As part of this year's Mental Health Awareness Week, Matt Williams from Oxford Samaritans, will offer a session about the unique listening service that Samaritans provides and share his experience of supporting those going through a tough time. Matt will offer practical hints and tips to help us to really listening to those in crisis and suggest techniques that we can use in our everyday lives. Matt believes that suicide prevention is everybody's business and is keen to challenge many of the misunderstandings, myths and taboos around this difficult subject.


IN-PERSON, University Parks

ACTIVITY: Birds in the City - University Parks

Capacity 20

Join Ben Sheldon, Luc Hoffmann Professor of Ornithology, for a guided walk in University Parks & Marston Meadows to learn about (and hopefully see!) some of the wonderful bird species you can enjoy in the city.


IN-PERSON, Oxford                                                                                               

ACTIVITY: Uncomfortable Oxford Tour (Hidden Histories)

Capacity 20

Unearth the stories of those who are often left out of traditional narratives of Oxford: Women, people of colour, and LGBTQIA+ individuals. This guided journey around Oxford will go back in time to highlight the many ways women have historically experienced the urban space and family life, uncover how masculinities have shaped and been shaped by the university, and discuss queer experiences in the city.

Friday 17 May 


IN-PERSON, History of Science Museum  

ACTIVITY: Private Tour of the History of Science Museum

Capacity 12

Join us for a serene morning at the History of Science Museum for an exclusive, private tour while the museum is closed to the public. Discover the entwined paths of art and science during times when these disciplines flourished together. Following the tour, indulge in a hands-on workshop, drawing inspiration from historical scientific instruments to create your own works. This unique experience promises a peaceful escape into the worlds of creativity and discovery.


IN-PERSON, University Parks

ACTIVITY: Tai chi in the Parks

Capacity 30

Join us at University Parks for a beginner's Tai Chi Class run by Tom Gold-Blyth, who has been teaching Tai Chi since 2003 and working in a supportive mental health setting for over 10 years as the Tai Chi teacher for Khiron House.



ACTIVITY: Mindful Movement

Too much time sitting at your desk? Not enough time to get out for a walk or exercise? Join Alison Brindle (MSD) for a 20-minute, low-impact and relaxing session focusing on simple stretches and gentle movement. No special equipment or previous knowledge is required. No sweat is expected, and yes, you can keep your camera off! While Alison is not a trained physio, she learned these exercises while visiting a retreat centre in France a few years back. They are based on the '10 Mindful Movements' practice of Thich Nhat Hanh.


IN-PERSON, Thom Building

TALK: Building resilience and maintaining boundaries 

Capacity 30

In this interactive talk with Dr Ruth Collins, we will explore what resilience in the workplace can mean (and how it can be different for different people!), overview strategies that facilitate and enhance resilience and psychological well-being, both individually and as a team, and spend some time exploring the importance of maintaining boundaries – including how to say no.

Dr Ruth Collins is the University’s Staff Mental Health Training Coordinator and is also an experienced psychologist, psychotherapist and mindfulness practitioner providing counselling and psychotherapy for young people, adults and older adults.


IN-PERSON, Museum of Natural History

EVENT: Water World; Late night at the Museum of Natural History and Pitt-Rivers Museum

Relax and socialise in the museums at night and discover the wonders of fresh water, how it shapes our world and the local and global challenges it poses us. Floods of flash talks, adult crafts, story-telling, soundscapes and stalls of researchers, collections staff and museum specimens in celebration of the MNH exhibition ‘Fair Water’. Free entry and bar. Please book online here on the Museum's website.