UoN student named among Nation’s Lifesavers

May 21st, 2019

An inspirational University of Nottingham nursing researcher has been named among the Nation’s Lifesavers for her exceptional contribution to keeping the nation healthy. 

Josephine NwaAmaka Bardi is an Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) PhD mental health and wellbeing student from the School of Health Sciences. She was recognised as a Nation Lifesaver by the Universities UK campaign MadeAtUni, which highlights the positive impacts of universities on the wider population. 

Josephine was recognised for leading her own national lobby called Raising Awareness of Mental Health in Higher Education (RAMHE), which was the first student-led initiative in the country. 

The campaign was prompted by Josephine’s personal experiences of working with people with mental illnesses – from her early days of volunteering with a homeless charity in London after arriving from her home in Nigeria, to working as a mental health nurse and receiving the ESRC funding to research activity at The Dragon Café in Southwark, the UK’s first mental health café. Her time as a PhD student at Nottingham, Associate Staff member at the London School of Economics and Political Science and Lecturer at the University of East London has focused her recent efforts on mental health among students in higher education. 

“It is extremely gratifying to be named as one of the Nation’s Lifesavers by Universities UK,” said Josephine of her recognition. “I am both honoured and thankful for this because for me RAMHHE is more than just students; it is about friends and family members, and the communities that students come from – it is about everyone. I see myself as an embodiment of all that RAMHHE stands for…I was once an international student, now a lecturer and a PhD student. With the RAMHHE campaign, I hope that universities will put systems in place such as student-led on-campus campaigns to enable anti-stigma and all-inclusive spaces where students and staff can engage in collective dialogue about mental health. This would allow students’ voices to be heard in the development, implementation and evaluation of mental health interventions. More importantly, universities can develop student-informed mental health interventions. In the absence of positive mental health, the student experience is hindered, and academic attainment may be limited.” 

Professor Joanne Lymn, Head of the School of Nursing, “This nomination is a significant accolade for Josephine, for her invaluable work in reducing the stigma surrounding mental health in higher education and promoting greater inclusivity and compassion for those with mental health issues. She is a hugely inspirational character and has a compelling story to tell about her life experiences which have led to this campaign.” 

Josephine concluded: “I would like to add that this award also goes to everyone who has supported the RAMHHE campaign, especially university students around the world who have taken part, both face to face and online. I think the MadeAtUni campaign is a great chance to celebrate the many ways universities are having a significant impact on our everyday lives.” 

In addition, Josephine recently received a University Tri Campus Postgraduate Prize in recognition of her research and contribution to the postgraduate community. She was awarded the Gertrude Cropper Scholarship. 

To find out more about Josephine’s research and experiences, read the Nursing TimesProtectED and Institute of Mental Health blogs. 

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