EGU General Assembly 2020
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Mind matters: A model for mental health awareness and support from the Geological Society of London

Alicia Newton1, Alexandra Sarney2, and Megan O'Donnell2
Alicia Newton et al.
  • 1Geological Society of London, London, United Kingdom (
  • 2Geological Society of London, London, United Kingdom

Up to one in four UK adults now experience a mental health issue each year. Meanwhile, the numbers of UK university students reporting a mental health condition rose by a factor of five between 2006 and 2016, reaching two percent, with some higher education institutions reporting that one in four students have accessed or are waiting to access mental health services. There are a number of aspects of work and study in the geological sciences that can contribute to or exacerbate poor mental health, with fieldwork identified as a particular source of stress and worry for students and professionals alike. Without clearly signposted pathways to support mental health in the geosciences, students and professionals may choose to leave the field.

In 2019, the Geological Society of London launched a mental health and wellbeing programme for its own staff, and is now sharing the model, and lessons learned during implementation, with geologists and employers of geologists. Following a mental health awareness course made available to all staff, staff were encouraged to apply to become a certified mental health first aider and/or to serve on the newly created Mental Health and Wellbeing Group. Over a quarter of staff members applied for one or both positions, with 20 percent selected for the group, and four of those members selected to become mental health first aiders. In addition, a member of the senior leadership team trained as a mental health champion. We have also launched a survey of employee attitudes toward and understanding of mental health, and started to deliver a series of stress-reducing activities. Early results include staff members reporting feeling more valued as people and an increased uptake of services offered through the employee assistance programme, which offers confidential support around mental and physical health. We will also assess changes in employee morale and sickness absence following the introduction of the programme. Finally, we offer strategies for proposing and implementing mental health and wellbeing programmes at other geoscience employers.

How to cite: Newton, A., Sarney, A., and O'Donnell, M.: Mind matters: A model for mental health awareness and support from the Geological Society of London, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-19002,, 2020

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  • CC1: job at universities, Maria Bostenaru Dan, 02 May 2020

    In Romania we get controlled each year if we are healthy and able to work. I think getting treated for mental health is a killer of job, as one would not be able to teach anymore if in evidence for mental health. At least so is my understanding.

  • CC2: Comment on EGU2020-19002, Chiaki Oguchi, 05 May 2020

    The JpGU Diversity Promotion Committee organized a public session entitled "Mental care and Communication Strategies for Researchers" at the JpGU2018 joint meeting.

    • CC3: Reply to CC2, Maria Bostenaru Dan, 05 May 2020

      Please take a look at the newly approved COST actions from this spring, there is one on Researcher Mental Health.

      There have been previously targeted COST actions in genderSTE, or on encouranging young researchers, I think personally all are hanging together and with the precarious positions many times lacking social insurance, including when there is, but one is mobile.

      • AC1: Reply to CC3, Alicia Newton, 05 May 2020

        Thanks. I'm glad to see this - pressures have changed so much over the past two months.

    • AC2: Reply to CC2, Alicia Newton, 05 May 2020

      That's great to hear. Best of luck, and let me know if there's any way we at GSL can support it.