Holly Sloey

Fatemeh Nokhbatolfoghahai, one of this year’s two candidates for the SRC’s VP Student Support, clearly has a significant amount of experience on the SRC. The current Mental Health Equality Officer, she has been on the Council for two years and has been a member of the Faith and Religious Belief Equality, Disability Equality and Mental Health Action groups. She is also currently developing LookAfterYourself, an online mental health and wellbeing platform aimed at better informing students of where they can access mental health support.

The ideas she proposes aren’t particularly original and mainly aim to build on existing SRC initiatives, however this is not necessarily a drawback as it means that most are likely to be achievable within a one-year term.

Notable ideas in her manifesto include her intention to work with CaPS on the Mental Health Action Plan aim to coordinate their mental health services better with those offered by the NHS. Nokhbatolfoghahai demonstrates a good understanding of the problems that a lack of coordination has caused in the past, such as GP practices instructing patients to attend university counselling services instead of offering an opportunity to attend their own, and has evidently put thought into how they could be resolved. She has spoken to those already working on this goal, is aware of which local GP practices are causing particular problems, and has a realistic aim of simply establishing better ground rules as to which organisation should be dealing with which issues regarding mental health.

Nokhbatolfoghahai wishes to give the SRC’s Suicide Prevention Training and Sexual Violence Prevention Training a wider reach by running several of these events throughout the year, which she believes will be possible should they be granted further National Lottery funding. She also mentioned that she is keen to continue with the Mind Your Mate mental health support training began this year.

She has the idea of convincing the University to consider offering a specialised Peer Support programme to students coming from the various access-widening initiatives as part of its wider Peer Support rollout, as having come from one herself, she felt that there was a lack of available support for such students. This is an innovative idea that seems likely to be workable given the current plans to extend Peer Support.

She makes some more general points about ensuring that the University sticks to its obligations in terms of meeting its promise to ensure that its new campus development will be disability accessible and include reflective, family-friendly, breastfeeding and gender neutral facilities, as well as adhering to the SNP Government’s policy to be introduced in August 2018 which requires free sanitary products to be available across campus. She is somewhat vague on what her particular plans in these areas are, given that these measures are already going to be put in place, but it’s still encouraging that she acknowledged the importance of ensuring that they go ahead smoothly.

Nokhbatolfoghahai makes a point in her manifesto of highlighting that she believes that there should be a more robust accountability process for all Council members. She feels that there is a lack of opportunity for non-Council members to ask follow-up questions regarding events organised by Council members. One idea she has to resolve this would be to have a meeting where students could give feedback to Council members, but she admits that she is not sure this would be successful and that she would give further thought to the issue.

On the whole Nokhbatolfoghahai is a strong candidate who seems likely to make an effective VP Student Support should she be elected. Although she doesn’t offer any particularly out-of-the-box ideas, she is realistic about what can be achieved and was able to elaborate well on all ideas mentioned in her manifesto.

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