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Health and Wellbeing

Safeguarding for Mental Health Ambassadors

By Adrian 06 Mar 2024

This article is intended for our trained Mental Health Ambassadors.

Your Role

  • Promote positive mental health through workshops, activities, and open conversation.
  • Provide a listening ear and a supportive presence for your fellow students.
  • Signpost students to appropriate resources and support services.
  • Understand and follow safeguarding procedures. You are an important part of the university's safety network.


  • Safeguarding means: Protecting the health, wellbeing, and human rights of individuals, allowing them to live free from abuse, harm, and neglect.
  • In the context of your role: It means being alert to signs that a student may be experiencing:
    • Physical abuse: Physical harm, unexplained injuries
    • Emotional abuse: Bullying, controlling behaviour, isolation, low self-esteem
    • Neglect: Lack of basic needs (food, shelter, hygiene), unattended physical or medical conditions
    • Mental health difficulties: Significant changes in mood, withdrawal, self-harm, talk of suicide

Your responsibility

  • Safeguarding is everyone's responsibility.
  • Your role as a Mental Health Ambassador is to observe, listen, and escalate concerns appropriately if you notice something that gives you concern.
  • You are not expected to diagnose or solve these complex issues.


  • What it means: Keeping information shared with you in confidence and respecting a student's privacy.
  • Limits to confidentiality: If you believe a student is at risk of harm to themselves or others, you MUST break confidentiality to get them help.
  • Importance of honesty: Never promise complete confidentiality. Explain to students that if they share information that suggests they or someone else is at risk of serious harm, you may need to share this to keep them safe.

Seeking Consent Protocol

  • Explain your concerns: Be clear about why you're worried about the student or someone else.
  • Seek permission: Ask if they would agree to you sharing the information with the designated safeguarding contact or relevant support service.
  • Respect their decision: If they consent, work with them to agree on what information to share and how best to support them.

What if consent is refused?

  • Safety first: Even in difficult situations, your primary responsibility is to safeguard the student and others who might be at risk.
  • Explain your actions: If possible, let the student know that even though they don't agree, you have to get help to keep them or others safe.
  • Document your concerns: Make a record of the conversation, including the student's reasons for refusing, and any specific risks you were worried about.
  • Escalate without delay: Contact the designated safeguarding lead or a trusted member of university staff. They will advise you on how to proceed, while taking into account both the risk and the need to respect the student's wishes as far as is possible.

Escalation Procedures

1. Immediate Risk

If you believe a student is in immediate danger:

  • Duty Resident Advisor or Manager: Ask Security at the front desk of the hall to contact the duty Resident Advisor (evenings and weekends) or duty Manager (during office hours)
  • Or, if necessary, Emergency Services: 999

2. Serious Concern, Non-Emergency:

  • Designated Safeguarding Contact: Adrian Clark (Student Health & Wellbeing Manager) –
  • The Hall Warden: All Wardens' email addresses are listed here
  • Discuss the situation. They will guide you on the appropriate action and provide support.

3. General Concerns:

  • Talk to the student: Encourage them to seek support from university services or a trusted adult.
  • University Wellbeing Website: University of London Support & Wellbeing; or find the relevant wellbeing pages for the specific university where the person is studying
  • Additional Resources: Use the signposting resources from the Mental Health Foundation materials supplied to you

Key Points to Remember

  • You are never alone: Support is always available. Don't hesitate to escalate concerns.
  • Trust your instincts: If something feels wrong, it probably is. It's better to err on the side of caution.
  • Your wellbeing matters too: Supporting others can be emotionally draining. Make sure to practise self-care and seek support when you need it. We have a list of resources for those who support others; as a Mental Health Ambassador, you might like to explore some of these.
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Adrian is a medical doctor, the Student Health & Wellbeing Manager at the University of London and the Warden of Connaught Hall, where he has lived for more than 25 years.
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