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With the demands and challenges that we all face at work, we wanted to curate a single space that could support and protect our mental health. Here we have compiled all of the different resources shared throughout the MPLS Mental Health Awareness Week 2024 programme, and will continue to build on this with more resources.

A row of books against a yellow background

Read on to learn about some easy ways to build movement into your workday, whether that’s dedicated time to a proper workout, a walk around Oxford’s green and educational spaces, or simply moving while you’re boiling the kettle.

Read on to find out more about the university and local/national support services and resources that are available to you, from counselling and Mental Health First Aid to local charities and peer support.

Read on for resources on personal and professional development, and some proven self-support tools to shift your mindset towards positive mental health.

Use the headers below to view the services and resources you are interested in.

There are a number of excellent services available to staff and students within the University to support the wellbeing and mental health, but knowing which one to choose can be tricky. We have listed those services below along with how they can support you. There are also local and national support services and charities listed after 'Support for students'.

Support for staff


MPLS have a number of MHFA England trained Mental Health First Aiders on hand to offer confidential, informal support to anyone within MPLS experiencing poor mental health or stress, whether work-related or not. We can be your first point of contact and, by understanding your situation, can talk through your options and signpost you to the right service if further support is required. Get in touch confidentially via, or get in touch directly through the bios on the Mental Health First Aiders webpage.


Health Assured is an Employee Assistance Programme designed to help you deal with any personal and professional problems that may affect your home or work life, health, and general wellbeing.

It is a complete support network that offers expert advice and guidance 24/7, including:

  • Counselling for emotional problems and a pathway to structured therapy sessions;
  • Legal information for issues that cause anxiety or distress;
  • Bereavement support, including access to experienced counsellors and legal advisors;
  • Medical information: Qualified nurses are on hand to offer support on a range of medical or health-related issues offering practical information and advice (not 24/7);
  • Online Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT): a range of self-help modules, informative fact sheets and invaluable advice videos from leading qualified counsellors; and
  • A wellbeing app and portal offering Live Chat and a virtual library of wellbeing articles and guides.

To find out more about the free and confidential services available to you and how to access them, please visit Health Assured | Staff Gateway (

Health Assured is part of the University’s wider staff wellbeing programme Thriving at Oxford. 


A new Oxford programme supporting you to feel and perform at your best as part of the University community: Thriving at Oxford launched in MT 2022. The University is committed to creating an environment where "everybody is supported to feel and perform at their best as part of the University community". Here you can find lots of useful resources and updates posted from the centre.


Occupational Health provides a service that promotes and supports physical and mental wellbeing in the workplace. It offers a range of services including advice to managers, the employee counselling service (more below) and health surveillance.


If you or someone you know within the University is experiencing bullying or harassment, get in touch with the Harassment Advisory Service or your local Advisors for support and advice on the procedure. More information about the harassment procedure can be found on these webpages. MPLS Bullying and Harassment Advisors are Daisy Hung and Justin Hutchence.  


All students and staff at the University of Oxford can access Togetherall’s 24 hour, safe online mental health support. An online peer-to-peer support community offering discussions mediated by mental health professionals, self-learning courses and resources. Register for free for Togetherall and select "I'm from a University or college"


Able Futures is a nationwide mental health support service provided on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions. All University employees are eligible for nine months advice and guidance from a mental health specialist who can help you learn coping mechanisms, build resilience, access therapy or work with your employer to make adjustments to help your mental health at work. 

Call Able Futures free on 0800 321 3137 from 8am to 10.30pm, Monday to Friday to find out more about our online mental health support. Or apply online for Able Futures support


The Work + Family Space is a University benefit for all employees that offers access to emergency back-up childcare and adultcare, a 'speak to an expert' phone line, and a wide range of guides and webinars. Access to the services, phone lines and web guidance is free for University employees, but you will need to meet the costs of any care that you book. Find out more on the Work + Family Space webpage


The Access to Work Mental Health Support Service by Maximus is funded by the Department of Work and Pensions and provides confidential and vocational support for employees with mental illness to retain/regain their ability to participate ​at work. 




All students at the University have access to a free student counselling service provided by Welfare and Student Support. They also provide advice to staff who are concerned about students.


The Sexual Harassment and Violence Support Service provides a safe space for students to be heard, with advisors offering free support and advice to any current student who has been impacted by sexual harassment or violence. All specialist advisors at the service are trained to support you at your pace, free of charge and in confidence.


The Peer Support Programme was developed in the early 1990s in recognition of the essential role students play in supporting and encouraging one another on a day-to-day basis throughout their time at university. Students can seek peer support from other students at the University.


Local mental health support services


The Samaritans provides a confidential and sympathetic listening ear to those in emotional distress. Face-to-face support is available in Oxford and Banbury.


Restore is an Oxfordshire-based mental health charity that provides Recovery projects together with Root and Branch and Bridewell Organic Gardens which helps people take control of their recovery, develop skills and lead meaningful lives.


Oxfordshire Mind provides a wide range of services and support for children, young people and adults who want to improve or maintain their wellbeing and mental health. They are a standalone charity but are a branch of the national Mind organisation.


Oxfordshire Talking Therapies is a NHS service providing free, confidential and easy-to-access mental health care to people (18+) registered with an Oxfordshire GP. The service offers a range of evidence-based talking therapies such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), helping people to get better and stay well.


Oxford Mindfulness Foundation offers a mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) course run over eight weeks, including two-hour classes per week and home practice. It helps prevent relapse after episodes of depression and reduces stress and anxiety. There’s lots more information on their website.


Anxiety UK is a national dedicated, friendly and approachable charity that believes that anxiety, stress and anxiety-based depression are treatable and manageable.


The Oxford Mindfulness Centre offers free daily online mindfulness sessions (Monday to Friday each week).  The practice sessions are intended for anyone new to mindfulness and for those who would like to connect with others to maintain their practice.


Oxfordshire Mind which runs the Safe Haven, a safe space open 365 days a year for you to access and talk through your problems. 11.30am-9.30pm, 7 days a week. Tel: 01865 903 037; Email:


Shout provides a confidential 24/7 text messaging support service for anyone who is struggling to cope.


If you live outside of Oxfordshire: For other support local to you, search your location on the Hub of Hope.

For Day Two of Mental Health Awareness Week 2024, we are thinking about what we can do to shift our mindset for better mental health, wellbeing, and quality of life. Small steps often lead to a happier future, so try to break down your goals if they are feeling a bit overwhelming.

There are lots of different ways we can think about this, but we have tried our best to compile a range of useful resources that will get us thinking about how we function, and then what we might need to do or learn in order to shift our mindset. Hopefully one or some of these will be relevant and useful for you!


Some tips from the Mental Health Foundation: The Mental Health Foundation have developed a short guide to help us think about some easy and fun ways to boost our mental health. While they stick with the theme of movement, we think most – if not all – of these ideas are also relevant to helping us shift our mindset. Whether it’s by connecting with others, setting small goals, or planning things to look forward to, we encourage you to read this short guide to see if there is anything here that might help you shift your mindset and support your mental health.

NHS top tips to improve your mental health: The NHS have similarly compiled a list of things to think about that might help boost our mental health, from reframing negative thoughts to getting good sleep. Even better, there are some great videos for each of their tips, so there’s lots to get stuck in with and learn on this page.

Making space for arts, creativity and other hobbies: It is so easy to deprioritise the things we enjoy when work or life gets too pressured and stressful. Looking after ourselves is often the first thing that goes when everything gets a bit much. You can already see from the resources above that movement hobbies have a positive impact on our mental health, but so too do creative hobbies. Check out this article on ‘Why being creative is good for you’, and this page on ‘How arts can help improve your mental health’.


Managing stress using the stress container: Rebecca Reed, founder of Siendo and all-round wellbeing warrior, wrote this brilliant article about the 'stress container'. This visual model brings awareness to both our stress levels and the ways we choose to respond, getting us to think about some of the best ways that we can support ourselves in times of stress.

The Route to Resilience: In this 30-minute video from last year’s MHAW, Dr Jennifer Wild, Visiting Professor in the Department of Experimental Psychology, discusses how certain people can overcome enormous stress and anxiety, while others struggle. She breaks this down by presenting seven key tools that can help us all learn to manage stress and anxiety in our own lives and examine the science of why they work.

Understanding and Exploring the Imposter Syndrome: If you experience imposter syndrome and want to learn some tools to support yourself, or if you just want to find out more, give this video a watch! Dr Kate Atkin gives you an understanding of the imposter syndrome, why it really is a phenomenon, and whether it might apply to you. She gives some key tips on how to spot the imposter chatter in yourselves and how to quieten that internal voice, as well as tips for supporting others.

We know that lots of you already build movement and exercise into your working day, but if you’re not sure where to start or want some new, gentle inspiration, explore the following videos...

NHS Fitness Studio: A series of videos that include aerobic exercises, strength and resistance, and Pilates and yoga.

The Five Tibetan Rites: A five-minute video on a sequence of yoga moves that are thought to be over 2,500 years old.

Ten Mindful Movements with Thich Nhat Hanh: Practice mindful movement and breathing in your own time with Thich Nhat Hanh at Plum Village. 

Desk stretches from Bupa: A lot of us spend a lot of time looking at laptops, screens or sitting at desks. Bupa has shared some suggested movements and stretches to help ease any aches and pains we experience while sitting at our desks.

Relaxation exercises by the Samaritans: Muscle relaxation and controlled breathing can help to relieve feelings of stress and anxiety. Scroll to about halfway down the page to see a couple of videos to help you practice some simple exercises, which you can then use anytime, anywhere.

Guided meditation: This short video provided by the Oxford Mindfulness Centre is a ten-minute guided meditation. Whether you are new to meditation or have done it before, this short session is a useful introduction to seated meditation, breathing techniques and anchoring in the present moment. Captions/subtitles can be enabled.

Our mental health and wellbeing have a significant tie to job or career satisfaction and personal and professional development. Here we have listed a number of ways we could move forward in our career or personal lives to improve our mental health – both in the workplace but also at home!



Career development: Thriving at Oxford has compiled a brilliant list of resources that support career development in the University, including self-diagnosis tools, development in your existing role, short and long courses, and leadership and management training. You could also have a poke about the People and Organisational Development (POD) pages to find out more about what’s available through their provision.

Coaching and mentoring: If you are interested in coaching or mentoring (whether that’s becoming a coach/mentor or getting one!), it’s worth checking out the People and Organisational Development (POD) pages to find out more about what’s available at the University. Coaching and mentoring provide alternative and highly effective development opportunities for staff to work through knotty issues, gain insights and achieve goals. Departments/faculties/colleges may also have mentoring or coaching programmes, so it’s worth checking with HR or your manager/supervisor if you want more subject or area-specific support.

Developing others: If you are interested in learning more about how to support your team or group, there are lots of resources on the POD Developing Others pages, from people development plans to supporting new staff. Visit the HR pages to remind yourself of the University policies too.


Wellbeing Champions: Through Thriving at Oxford, Wellbeing Champions are volunteers from across the University who are passionate about promoting a culture of wellbeing. Their role is to raise awareness around health and wellbeing within teams and signpost to resources and support services around all six domains of wellbeing: health, work, values and principles, social growth, personal growth and financial wellbeing. You can either find your local Wellbeing Champion or explore becoming one!

Mental health awareness training: Some areas of the University have cohorts of Mental Health First Aiders (MHFAs). If you are interested in becoming an MHFA, you need to check with your local area if there is an existing cohort and if further training is planned. There are, however, several masterclasses that are available to all staff – find out more information on this Thriving at Oxford page.

Training: There are so many training workshops or short courses that you could sign up for as a member of the University. Some of these will be highlighted in the Career Development section above, but there are lots of other trainings that develop different areas. POD have a range of training courses, as does IT. If you are interested in Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, MPLS offers an annual ED&I training programme which covers anti-racist and intersectional allyship, supporting disabled and neurodivergent staff, self-care and resilience, and more (a new programme open to ALL for 2024/25 will be announced over the summer). The central Equality and Diversity Unit also have a range of training, including implicit bias, race and cultural awareness, harassment and bullying training.

Further learning and looking after you: There are lots of other ways to think about personal/professional development, including lifelong learning, giving back to the community and developing hobbies. See a list compiled by Thriving at Oxford to think about this a bit more.

Stress and imposter syndrome and building resilience: If you experience stress or feeling like an imposter, remember to read/watch the resources shared on Day Two of Mental Health Awareness Week 2024.


We spend so much of our time at work, so it’s really important to find effective ways to support ourselves. Below are listed some things to remember, as well as suggested methods to make our workdays more manageable and enjoyable. We have also highlighted some of the Ways of Working policies within the University, in case you want to find out more about what is available to you.


Some habits or thoughts that might improve your everyday...

  • Think about the things that are causing you stress or worry and work out what is within your control and what isn’t. Have a look at the stress container example to see if that’s helpful.
  • Identify what makes you feel better – and remember, don’t feel pressured to do what everyone else is doing. What works for me may well not work for you.
  • Small steps can have big effects. You don't need to set huge resolutions, but doing one small thing in a day – like noting three things you are grateful for today, or having a quick shake to relieve stress – could lead to bigger changes in habits over time.
  • If you need to (whether it’s about work and workload or anything else), talk to your manager or supervisor about how you’re doing and where you might need support from them. If you don’t feel able to speak to your manager or supervisor, come and talk to an MPLS Mental Health First Aider.
  • Try not to isolate yourself – talk to colleagues, friends, family, a Mental Health First Aider. Find your support network.
  • Build in a bit of time every day to check in with how you’re feeling. Do you need to put aside time to practice some breathing techniques, go for a walk, or eat something tasty for lunch? Don’t ignore those warning signs that you may not be fully ok.
  • Keep an eye out for those around you. Check in with your colleagues and friends. If you think someone isn’t 100% themselves, it’s ok to ask them if there’s anything you can do. They might say no, and that’s fine. Or they might say yes. But just knowing that someone is looking out for them will help.
  • Be kind to yourself. Extend the same compassion and kindness you give to other people to yourself as well. This will boost your mood and put you in a better frame of mind.

Some suggested tools or methods for self-care and to build resilience include:

  • Keep a notebook that you use to write down thoughts and feelings, particularly after a difficult day, meeting or experience that has had a negative effect on you. Once you’ve written everything out, close the notebook and put it away.
  • You could do something similar with an object. Have a rock, a fidget toy, or anything you choose, in your pocket during a difficult conversation or experience. Once that experience is over, you can remove it from your pocket to take it away from you.
  • Take a shower to wash away any negative experiences from the day.
  • If you are overwhelmed with your workload, take a step back. Go for a walk, get outside or just physically get away from your desk, rather than trying to power through it. When you are ready, write a list, and then use your diary to block time to work on specific tasks. Research shows that planning ahead really benefits wellbeing and reduces stress.
  • Eat your frog: If you like me are a productive procrastinator (where I’m working, but not necessarily doing what I’m supposed to be working on!), check out this article on ‘eating your frog’.
  • Practice breathing. Feet on the floor (if possible, feel the ground). Close your eyes (if you would like to). Breathe in for the count of 7 (or for as long as you’re able). Hold to the count of 7 (holding is really important, don’t worry if it takes you a while to get to 7). Breathe out to the count of 7. Repeat 3-4 times if you find this is helping you. Or trace the outline of your hands, breathing in as you gently trace up your thumb, and out as you go down, in as you work up your finger, and out as you go down.
  • Shake it out. Shaking can be really beneficial for relieving stress and tension in the body. Even just spending one minute moving in this way can help relax your body. Dancing can have a similar effect.
  • You could practice meditation or mindfulness – but if you are new to this, make sure you read up on how to do it properly to get the best out of it.
  • Practice gratitude. Many people find gratitude journals a useful way of reminding themselves what they are grateful for and bringing the focus back to what they already have (rather than what they want). This can also be a really fun and powerful exercise to do with friends.
  • Start a joy journal. Similar to a gratitude journal, but you write down anything that made you happy or laugh, like seeing a butterfly or laughing at a joke. Writing them down means you can look back at that joy again and again.
  • Find an activity you enjoy, which could include: listening to music, crocheting, knitting, painting, drawing, going for a walk, running or swimming, stretching, cooking, cleaning, gardening, watching a movie or reading a book, playing games, doing a puzzle – anything that helps you switch off and takes away stress is a form of self-care.

And remember to add movement into the everyday!


  • New Ways of WorkingNew Ways of Working supports the needs and circumstances of professional services staff working in different ways, building on our experiences during the pandemic. The New Ways of Working Framework pages have been created to ensure professional services staff can continue to support the University’s academic mission whilst working on-site or remotely. Find out more about what this could mean for you.
  • Thriving at Oxford – looking after youThriving at Oxford has summarised a number of resources from around the University to improve your working life.
  • HR guidelines: There are a variety of policies and guidance on the HR pages that might help understand how the University works and where you might be able to get further support to work in the best way for you.
  • Flexible working: HR also provide specific information for staff and managers about requesting temporary or permanent changes to working patterns, on the flexible working page.
  • EDU reasonable adjustments: For individuals who are disabled or need more support from work, the Equality and Diversity Unit have prepared a number of useful reasonable adjustments (and supporting information).

Engage with nature

What better way to unwind and relax than taking a stroll around our beautiful gardens? Staff and students have free access to both the Botanic Gardens and Harcourt Arboretum. Also remember that Wytham Woods and University Park are on the doorstep, too! 

  • The Oxford Botanic Garden is the oldest botanic garden in the UK and home to over 5,000 different plant species. Located in Oxford centre, there is plenty to explore including 7 glasshouses, a herbarium room and their beautiful gardens. Location: Rose Lane, OX1 4AZ
  • The Harcourt Arboretum has over 130 acres of the world’s rare and endangered trees to explore. Visitors can discover trees from around the world growing alongside tranquil British woodland and open meadows. Location: OX44 9PX (free parking and bus services available)

More information for both can be found on the Botanic Garden website

  • The University Parks offers a green oasis in the centre of the city. Aiming to be available for the enjoyment of members of the University, local residents, and visitors to Oxford the park is open to the public almost every day of the year until dusk (the only exception being Christmas Eve) and boasts a choice of walks, a large collection of trees and plants and space for informal games and picnics. More information can be found on the University Parks website
  • Wytham Woods, a little further out from the centre of the city, is an iconic location that has been the subject of continuous ecological research programmes, many dating back to the 1940s. It is also extremely beautiful. Visit the Wytham Woods website for more information.

Why not enjoy some mindful and wellbeing activities such as yoga, twilight tours, tree climbing, meditation or watercolour classes in our stunning gardens? Find out what's on in the gardens

Explore our Libraries and Museums

Did you know the University has four Museums and multiple libraries for you to enjoy? They are all part of the Gardens Libraries and Museums (GLAM) Division. 

  • The History of Science Museum is home to an unrivalled collection of scientific inventions, devices, and instruments from different cultures, places, and times in human history.
  • The much-loved Pitt Rivers Museum houses within an atmospheric building more than 500,000 objects, photographs and manuscripts from all over the world, and from all periods of human existence.
  • The Ashmolean Museum is Britain’s first public museum of art and archaeology, founded in 1683. Their collections range from Egyptian mummies to contemporary art, telling human stories across cultures and across time.
  • The Museum of Natural History holds a collection of natural history specimens and archives in a stunning example of neo-Gothic architecture. It is home to a lively programme of research, teaching and events.

Or why not take a wander through the Bodleian’s reading rooms or visit the exhibition at the modern Weston Library? Visit the GLAM (Gardens, Libraries and Museums) webpage for more inspiration!

Music and other cultural activities

Exploring the city

Discover a different side of Oxford with the Oxford Preservation Society’s self-guided walks. Great for stretching your legs at lunchtime or after work. 

  • Walk 1: Hidden Heritage – Graffiti Trail
    Ever since there have been walls, there has been graffiti. Before the 19th century it was a very common way for the ordinary person to express themselves.

  • Walk 2: Oxford’s Historic Churches
    This walk takes in 12 historic parish churches that appear on David Loggan’s 1675 map view of Oxford.

  • Walk 3: Shakespeare Trail
    This circular walk is adapted from 'Shakespeare in Oxford' and begins at Carfax Tower.

  • Walk 4: Hidden Heritage – Jericho
    Discover the hidden heritage of Jericho, including the birthplace of Richard I.