Derry's Elemental Software to help Welsh universities with mental health support

  • Photo: Elemental's founders, Jennifer Neff and Leann Monk-Ozgul

    Derry-headquartered Elemental Software has won a significant contract with major universities in Wales to help transform how higher education students access wellbeing support.

    Wrexham Glyndwr University and the University of South Wales (USW) have selected Elemental’s social prescribing software for a Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW) funded initiative that is intended to drive change across Welsh universities and colleges.

    As part of the project - the first of its kind in Europe - Wrexham Glyndwr University is providing students with access to Elemental’s digital social prescribing platform, through which students will be able to appropriately connect with non-clinical services within and beyond the university to support a range of health and wellbeing needs.

    USW’s role is to evaluate the project in order to understand the impact on student wellbeing and to be able to deliver a similar approach at USW, which has 23,000 students.

    RELATED: Tech Craic: Elemental Software's Jennifer Neff - How social prescribing can help during pandemic

    Ultimately, it is hoped, that a transferable model will be developed that can be rolled out across the higher education sector in Europe.

    There has never been a more important time for universities and Higher Education institutions to introduce a digital solution to the social prescribing needs of their students.

    A survey carried out by the National Union of Students (NUS) shows that more than 50% of students say their mental health has declined since the Covid-19 pandemic began. 

    Jennifer Neff, co-founder and CEO of Elemental Software said: “By embedding Elemental’s digital social prescribing platform into Student Wellbeing and Inclusion Programmes, universities and colleges can connect students with non-clinical services within and beyond the institutions to support a range ofissues that impact on student health and wellbeing needs.

    "This means that students will have access to a whole system approach to well-being, while also empowering them to take control of their health.”

    RELATED: Elemental: What is social prescribing and how is it helping the COVID-19 pandemic?

    Founded in Derry by Jennifer Neff and Leeann Monk Ozgul, Elemental is a tech-for-good company with the purpose of empowering and enabling individuals, families and their carers to better connect into community-based programmes, services and activities that make a positive impact on their lives.

    These include connecting people to art classes, gardening, social welfare legal advice, befriending and community exercise.

    At Wrexham Glyndwr University, the project is already beginning to see improvements in the ability to identify and provide support for students in need.

    Elemental’s Elearning Academy has provided 181 members of the Wrexham Glyndwr University team with the training needed to go live on the platform and make, manage and report on referrals while also providing support. 

    The early successes of the introduction of social prescribing are clear to see as 301 students are now registered in Elemental, with 422 associated prescriptions. Out of the 422 prescriptions, 306 were self-referrals through the Student Desk, showing how students are willing to take initiative and engage with the platform. 

    Overall, the project work is aligned to and embedded within the vision and mission of the university and to regional and national priorities for Wales.

    RELATED: Elemental's Leann Monk-Ozgul named one of UK's Most Influential Women in Tech 2020

    The programmes and services are also being made available to the wider community and will play a key role in improving holistic health of the local community.

    Partnerships with ICAN, 2025 Movement, Do-Well and USW will help establish a standardised approach to social prescribing, both within higher education and throughout Wales.

    By embedding Elemental into Student Wellbeing programmes, the social prescribing firm said education institutions will be able to:

    • Connect students with non-clinical services within and beyond the university to support a range of health and wellbeing needs.
    • Allow students to self-refer into community support via Elemental’s website module.
    • Embed a clear referral pathway and provide support when needed.
    • Offer referrals to services via chaplains, personal tutors, counsellors, housing, health, funding, and inclusion officers.
    • Measure and report on the impact of the Student Wellbeing programmes
    • Reduce avoidable GP appointments and NHS escalations, saving time, cost, and resources.
    • Produce a sustainable social prescribing model addressing the identified wellbeing needs of all students.
    • Easily manage everything from within Elemental’s digital social prescribing platform, meaning a seamless and simplified user journey.

    RELATED: Ulster University launches ChatPal app to support mental health during Covid-19

    Source: Written from press release

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