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UoB explain what’s going on with Pause, the library mental health service

Honestly what is it

You might've seen a sign in the UoB library offering the chance to "Pause" and talk about your feelings.

Pause, an initiative launched at UoB this term, is aiming to improve mental health services offered to UoB students.

Since it launched, it's been controversial, with posts in Fab N Fresh calling it out for a lack of privacy.

The service belongs to Forward Thinking Birmingham, who offer NHS commissioned external mental health care in several areas around the city of Birmingham. The University of Birmingham have partnered with Pause to provide a drop-in service on campus for students to come and chat if they need any support or help.

The Birmingham Tab spoke to Drew Linforth, the Head of Student Well Being at the University of Birmingham, who told us more about the Pause Drop-In service and explained its purpose.

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"The Pause Hub is open plan and as with the original concept in Digbeth, encourages service users to talk in an open environment," he said.

He assured The Tab Birmingham that the Pause University Drop-In is "very much in a soft launch phase at the moment with minimal staffing." Full launch is expected by January 2020 where there will be "6 staff working 30-35 hours per week in the space and it will feel very much like 'Pause' space during these operating hours, which will include evenings and weekends."

He says UoB are "excited that students will be able to use NHS commissioned services on site, which is unique for a University to be able to offer". This comes after The Birmingham Tab broke the story that UoB only employed six trained counsellors two years ago.

Recently, students have taken to Fab'n'Fresh to complain about a lack of privacy with the Pause service. We asked well-being why the Pause services were in a public space and if there was an option to chat to a member of the Pause team in a more private place. The Head of Student Well-being told us Pause is "part of a menu of support for students" and that the Pause check-ins are "brief interventions, available daily on site with virtually no wait."

He said that "If students specifically feel they need personalised support, 1:1 in a private room, it is still available to them". We were then referred to the university's well-being page for a list of the mental health services offered by the university which can provide private, personalised support.

The Tab Birmingham spoke to Sarisha Goodman, a Sociology and Education student at UoB who works at the University of Birmingham Institute for Mental Health. Sarisha has previously used the Pause Drop-In Service at UoB.

She told us that when she went to Pause, they were set up in the Bramall Building, but that they were "in Costa rather than upstairs because there was an open day that day". She explained that the Pause service had "their own little space in the corner of Costa, so it was public but also Costa had so many conversations going on that I knew no one would really hear what I was saying".

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Sarisha said: "I actually found it really helpful once I started talking to them. I was struggling really badly with my mental health and they recognised the severity of my symptoms and referred me to IAPT (Improving Access to Psychological Therapies) which was a much shorter waiting list than other therapists."

She told The Tab Birmingham: "The guy was really nice and compassionate and I think they are a brilliant service who signpost you to the place you need to be and offer a listening ear. They were 1000 times better than the Uni mental health drop in at the student hub at Aston Webb."

Sarisha thinks "it's just a shame about the space" but told us "that's not really their fault, more the uni's if anything".

If you have any other questions or concerns regarding the Pause services, or any of the other university provided mental health services, the well-being team welcome any queries or feedback and you can contact them here: [email protected]

More information about Pause Services are available here and here.

Pause is open for students on Mondays from 1pm to 4pm in the Bramall Building and from 11am to 5pm in the Main Library, Monday to Thursday.