Employee Wellbeing

Employee Wellbeing

Workplace Health, Advice & Services

Many of us spend the largest proportion of our time in the workplace so creating a healthy, safe and supportive work environment is essential to help us feel comfortable, healthy and happy at work.

If you are in crisis and need urgent help, please call the emergency services on 999.

Counselling Debrief Sessions

The University Counselling Service offer staff the chance to debrief with our trained counselling team following a challenging or distressing encounter at work.

All of us will have had the experience of supporting students or colleagues through a difficult time - and often we can find ourselves left dealing with our own emotional responses. It may be hard to know where to turn, who to speak to, or how to process our feelings. A 50-minute debrief session with the UCS gives you the opportunity to think things through with someone uninvolved, make sense of your own reactions, and find a way to move forward. To book a debrief session, just email counselling@abdn.ac.uk   

Disabled Staff Support

For information on disability support please visit HR Support Services.

Display Screen Glasses

If your job requires you to wear glasses to operate display screen equipment the University will contribute (up to £50) towards the costs of frames, lenses and any special prisms or tinting requirements for Display Screen usage.

More information can be found within the Expenses & Benefits Policy here

A How to Guide on how to make an expense claim for prescription glasses can be found below.

Employee Assistance Programme

The University offers staff an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) which provides a free, confidential face to face and telephone counselling service as well as information services.

The EAP is provided by Care First and staff can contact them about work related or personal issues as well as information, such as  legal or financial advice.

Care First is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They can be contacted on the freephone number 0808 168 2143. 

Please note, that the demand for the support line may be high at particular times and staff may be unable to speak with a counsellor right away. However, calls will always be answered and a brief assessment undertaken to determine whether the call needs to be escalated to one of the on-call clinical management team and/or a call back arranged. Where a call back is arranged, staff will receive a call from a private number.

Watch the lastest webinar from Care First to learn more about the services they offer and how they can support you - 'How Care First can support you' 

Online information and counselling are available on the Lifestyle website:
Username: aberdeen
Password: employee

Mental Health First Aid

Mental Health First Aid

Across University of Aberdeen campuses, we have a network of Mental Health First Aiders (MHFA).

The activities of MHFA's contribute to improving mental health in the workplace through encouraging openness, challenging stigma and providing listening support to individuals experiencing difficulties with their mental health or wellbeing.

You can find the contact list for all staff trained in Mental Health First Aid here.

Our network of Mental Health First Aiders can provide you with:

  • A listening ear, if you need to talk to someone, providing a confidential and safe place to discuss mental health and wellbeing concerns.
  • Initial support if you or someone you know are experiencing mental health or wellbeing difficulties.
  • Signposting information as well as support to access internal or external mental health and wellbeing services.

Mental Health First Aiders are not trained counsellors or therapists and cannot provide ongoing or long-term support, diagnosis or treatment; however, they are trained to listen, reassure, and respond and can support an individual's next steps to seeking further help as appropriate.

MHFA Training

MHFA training sessions are organised throughout the year. Please email the Wellbeing Team for more information. 

If you need out of office hours support or need immediate assistance, these mental health helplines have specially trained volunteers to help you through your immediate crisis.

Occupational Health

The Occupational Health service for the University is provided by OHWorks (Changed from SOS International 1 May 2023).

All staff are able to consult the service for advice on health matters. You are encouraged to discuss any health problems relating to your work in the first instance with your line manager however the occupational health service may be able to provide medical advice and assistance in situations where:

  • You are concerned that some aspect of your job is making you ill
  • You feel that you cannot perform at work to the best of your ability because of a health problem

The service is staffed by a broad range of occupational health professionals including physicians and advisers. All consultations are in strict medical confidence, details of discussions will not be supplied to the University or to any other person without your consent.

To arrange an appointment you can either ask your line manager to get Human Resources to refer you to the Occupational Health Service or contact your HR Adviser or Partner directly who can facilitate this.

Returning to work after ill mental health

1:4 people will experience a mental health problem each year and we want to ensure you can access support if you need it. 

Your line manager should be in touch with you during your period of absence and will work with you to put in any adjustments you may need for your return.  Discussions with you about adjustments are confidential and they are aimed at assisting you to effectively manage your time in work. Examples include increased flexibility, variable working hours, amendments to contracted hours (temporary, phased return), arriving at work later or leaving earlier to avoid very busy periods or slight alterations to roles and responsibilities. Reasonable adjustments are tailored to individual circumstances, and your line manager and/or HR Partner can help you to explore these further. 

If you have a mental health condition that meets the definition of disability in the Equality Act 2010 you may also be able to access additional support at work through the Access to Work Mental Health Support Service. You can speak to your line manager or HR Partner confidentially about this further.

More information and advice about eligibility is available at: https://atw.maximusuk.co.uk/

Workplace Dignity Network

The Workplace Dignity Network aims to provide support to staff who would like to chat through wellbeing concerns. This could be in relation to bullying/harassment, stress, work relationships, work/life balance or mental health issues. The Network members are a listening ear. Sometimes it just helps to share an issue and discuss it. The Network can also signpost you to other sources of support which you may not have considered previously.

If you would like to contact a member of the Network, you can find their contact details below. You may wish to meet with someone who works outwith your area of work. You can contact any of the Network members and request to meet with them. The discussion will take place in a location that you are fully comfortable with.

Your Network contact will listen to your concerns and will be guided by your preferences regarding how you wish to proceed. They may provide you with alternative sources of support. Together you will decide what your next steps could be and your contact will provide information on the routes open to you.

The Workplace Dignity Network has received training, but they are not counsellors, mediators or mental health experts. They will, however, be able to provide advice on the University providers of these services.

The conversations will, unless there are very exceptional circumstances, be kept in the strictest confidence.

Your contact will, at the start of the meeting, ask you to agree to the code of conduct for the Service.  This ensures that both the staff member and the Network member are treated with respect throughout the discussions.

For further information about the Workplace Dignity Network, contact Janine Chalmers, Equality and Diversity Adviser on janine.chalmers@abdn.ac.uk or 01224 273883.


Network Members

Carol Baverstock, Student Recruitment and Admissions Service

Hello, my name is Carol and I joined the University in December 1999. I worked initially as an Assistant Faculty Officer and moved to Student Recruitment and Admissions in 2002 as Head of Admissions.

I became a Harassment Advisor when the roles where first created and pleased to now be a Staff Wellbeing Co-ordinator. I work full time and have a young family. During my time with the University, I have gained a lot of experience managing difficult situations and dealing with sensitive and confidential matters.

I have supported both applicants to the University and students with regard to sensitive and personal issues and in managing the Admissions team I have worked through a range of challenges as circumstances in the workplace unfold.

Tel: +44 (0) 1224 273504
Email: c.baverstock@abdn.ac.uk

Heather Crabb, Senior Governance & Executive Support Officer, Directorate of Planning & Governance

Photograph of Heather Crabb

Heather joined the University in 1999 and is currently Senior Governance & Executive Support Officer in the Directorate of Planning & Governance.  Between 1999 and 2014, she supported members of staff and managers across all areas of the University as a member of the Human Resources team. 

Since 2013, Heather has been the key point of contact between the University and the DFN Project SEARCH University of Aberdeen programme which supports young people with learning disabilities to gain skills and experience to move into employment.  She was a founder member of the Harassment Advisers Network and so has experience of dealing with a wide range of sensitive and confidential matters.

Heather is happy to support colleagues from all areas of the University who feel they would benefit from speaking to a member of the Workplace Dignity Network.

Tel: +44 (0) 1224 272404
Email: h.crabb@abdn.ac.uk

Lisa Clydesdale, Postgraduate Admissions Officer, Student Recruitment and Admissions

Lisa ClydesdaleI have been working at the University for over 20 years in administrative and student facing roles. My current role is in Postgraduate Admissions within the Student Recruitment and Admissions Team.

I have some previous nursing experience and I have completed a BScHons in Health Sciences (Health Promotion) at the University. During my degree studies I spent time on placement with ChildLine and I am currently undertaking a Counselling Skills course.

I am passionate about positively promoting health and wellbeing, as well as openness around mental health issues.

Tel: +44 (0) 1224 273606
Email: l.clydesdale@abdn.ac.uk

Moira Cruickshank, Research Fellow, Health Service Research Unit

I have been at the University since 2002, when I returned to full-time education as a mature student. I completed my BSc, MRes and PhD in psychology, before becoming a Research Fellow in the Health Services Research Unit in 2011.

I have undertaken courses in counselling skills, workplace coaching and mental health first aid. I firmly believe in the power of listening as a way of helping and supporting people to find a way through problems that is best for them. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if I can help in any way.

Tel: +44 (0) 1224 438412
Email: mcruickshank@abdn.ac.uk

Christina Cameron, Project and Strategy Officer, Estates and Facilities Management

Christina CameronI have worked at the University since 2008 in a variety of roles in Estates, Registry, Planning, and Student Life. In my current role, I’m a Project and Strategy Officer in Estates and Facilities Management. I have a small child, and work four days a week. As well as completing the Mental Health First Aid training, I worked for 18 months as part of the Equality and Diversity team helping with University initiatives including Athena SWAN and our staff network groups.

Tel: +44 (0) 1224 274189
Email: c.cameron@abdn.ac.uk

Brian Paterson, Technician, School of Natural and Computing Science

Brian has been a member of technical staff in the university since 1992, getting involved in the wellbeing of support staff initially, by becoming a union representative in 2000.

He became a Harassment Advisor from the inception of the role and been involved in the discussion and creation of the expanded role of Wellbeing Coordinator.

He is a trained first-aider and has recently undertaken Mental Health First Aid training as well as being an active member of the university’s Employee Engagement Group and Mental Health Working Group.

He has extensive experience of working with colleagues to address individual and collective issues both informally and formally and is always able to have a quiet chat with anybody in the community who feels they need some advice or assistance.

Tel: +44 (0) 1224 273804
Email: b.paterson@abdn.ac.uk

Patricia Spence, Centre Manager, Centre for Academic Development

I have worked at the University in various roles for nearly 20 years and am now the Manager of the Centre for Academic Development which is part of the Directorate of Academic Affairs.

I have held line management positions in Professional Services areas for most of the time I have worked here and currently manage a team of around thirty staff including full-time, part-time and temporary roles.

Having been a line manager for most of my working life, and a Harassment Adviser for several years, I’m pleased to now be a Staff Wellbeing Coordinator. My line management and life experience has given me a particular interest in mental ill health and I have recently completed the Mental Health First Aid Training Course. I have also had training in work-based coaching, something which can support a positive approach to tackling difficult circumstances in the work environment.

Tel: +44 (0) 1224 27 3924
Email: p.spence@abdn.ac.uk

Nicola Stokes, Administrative Coordinator, Postgraduate Research School

Nicola StokesMy name is Nic and I am a part-time secretary within Registry. Prior to joining the University, I worked for many years within the Social Care Sector in several areas including Mental Health, Substance Misuse, Children and Families (particularly with families affected by Postnatal Depression) and Learning Difficulties/Disabilities.

I became involved with the Wellbeing Co-ordinator programme as I wanted to be a ‘listening ear’ to colleagues finding their work and/or personal life difficult at present. For many, simply talking about a ‘problem’ will often be the first step to dealing with the situation in a positive and pro-active way.

I have both personal and professional experience within Mental Health services and hope to contribute to reducing any stigma felt by colleagues and making the University a truly supportive environment for both staff and students.

Tel: +44 (0) 1224 273625
Email: n.stokes@abdn.ac.uk

Carol Lawie, Executive Assistant, School of Law

Carol LawieI’m Carol Lawie, an Executive Assistant in the School of Law. I have been working in the School of Law since 2004, and have recently been appointed as a Staff Well-being Co-ordinator. A proportion of my day-to-day role involves helping UG students with any personal issues they may face while studying here. This experience means that I am a good listener, well -versed in pointing people in the right direction to seek help to solve their issues and concerns.

I feel very strongly that it’s important for people to have the opportunity to discuss any issues they have impartially and seek support when they need it. Last year I undertook the Scottish Mental Health First Aid Course, which I found extremely useful and insightful, having deployed some of the recommended strategies with recent student queries.

Tel: +44 (0) 1224 272441
Email: carol.lawie@abdn.ac.uk