ESE Mental Health Awareness Team
The ESE Mental Health Awareness Team members' main area of responsibility is indicated next to their names- but please feel free to contact any of the team.
You can also find a list of of the the Department's mental health first aiders here.
Anita Murphy (Area of responsibility: All students and staff, Chair of the ESE MHAT)
I am the ESE Student Wellbeing Advisor and Departmental Disability Officer. I am a Counsellor and CBT Therapist with 20 years of experience working in mental health, equality and safeguarding in various education provisions. I believe we can achieve our greatest potential in our professional and personal lives by improving our understanding of our own unique personal process and individual approach to life’s challenges. By developing our self-awareness and understanding, we can identify areas in our lives that we alone can work on to build our emotional resilience, mental fitness and ensure positive change. I offer all students and staff a welcoming, non-judgemental space to talk, support and facilitate this process, and may alternatively direct you to appropriate professional services that can provide you with appropriate support. I thank Cedric John for his important work developing and chairing the MHAT so successfully for the last 5 years (2016-2021); I am excited to work alongside my dedicated colleagues to promote a positive, mentally healthy ESE community as Chair of the ESE MHAT.
Emma Passmore (Area of responsibility: Undergraduate students)
I am a Senior Teaching Fellow and the undergraduate Senior Tutor for ESE, which means that I oversee the pastoral care and wellbeing of all our undergraduate students. Having been in this role for several years I have seen first-hand how important it is to support student mental health. We aim to do this in ESE by: offering an “open-door” support system for our students, so that they always have someone to talk to, whether that is face-to-face or online; directing students to appropriate sources of professional support; creating a welcoming and supportive community where students feel able to talk openly about mental health. New challenges for mental health and wellbeing have undoubtedly surfaced in 2020 as we all adapt to living with ongoing uncertainty and changed working patterns; we aim to work closely with our students, student reps and staff to make sure that these challenges are recognised and addressed.
Rebecca Smith (Area of responsibility: Undergraduate students)
I am the Undergraduate Education Manager in the Department of Earth Science and Engineering. I am responsible for overseeing the delivery of undergraduate education and support of the student experience. I am originally from Canada, but relocated to the UK as an overseas student, which brought on a range of new opportunities and challenges. I recognise that we all experience mental health in different ways, and that it fluctuates throughout our lives. I am from a BAME* background and am able to support students who may feel more comfortable speaking to someone from a similar background. I have a particular interest in promoting a balanced lifestyle, and utilising tools such as breathing exercises and yoga to help achieve that. I am also Mental Health First Aid trained and am happy to connect with you if you just need a chat!
*We recognise this term is currently being debated across the sector, but until we have a better alternative we will use this term.
Gareth Roberts (Area of responsibility: Members of staff, MSc students)
Gareth is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Earth Science and Engineering. His area of responsibilities within the Mental Health Awareness Team are providing support to members of staff, especially postdoctoral scholars, and taught postgraduate students. As the department’s Postgraduate Taught Tutor, he is a point of contact and provides pastoral support for MSc students. This support includes helping students access expert mental health care, disabilities advisory services, and helping them to deal with unforeseen challenges during their degrees.
Yves Plancherel (Area of responsibility: PhD, Msc students and staff)
I am currently lecturer in climate change and the environment at the Grantham Institute, focusing on global scale biogeochemistry. I have always been interested in interdisciplinarity, which means that I know little but about many things, that I am not as good as a specialist in any field, but that I can often see opportunities across disciplinary boundaries. I have lived, studied, worked or taught in three different countries, was president of the Princeton University international graduate student organization while a PhD student and have spent nearly 6 months at sea on various oceanographic expeditions above and below water (some of that time miserably seasick!). My area of responsibility on MHAT is the mental health of international students and staff. It can be difficult to adjust to a new work and cultural environment. If that is a problem that resonates with you and you would like to talk about it, I look forward to hearing about you experience.
Samantha Symmonds (Area of responsibility: Members of staff, PhD students)
I am the Postgraduate Education Manager in the Department of Earth Science and Engineering. I am responsible for overseeing the delivery of postgraduate education in the department. I have worked in the college for over 30 years and have had a wide range of roles in administration working with both undergraduate and postgraduate students. In my previous role as administrator for PhD students in ESE I spent many years supporting students and completed a counselling course to help with listening skills. My experience has led me to understand the importance of mental health and the role it plays in the learning environment. I believe the need to listen and support students has never been greater and hope that both students and staff would feel they could approach me for any support they may need.
Amanda Allotey (Area of responsibility: PhD students)
I am currently the Postgraduate Research administrator in Earth Science and Engineering. I assist in all areas of PhD Research and support students from the start to the completion of their PhD.
I know with any form of study that difficulties can arise and it’s not always easy to balance work and a personal life. One of the reasons I become a mental health contact is to let students know that you are not alone and that there are resources available to assist and help with any issues or problems that may occur during study.
Rebecca Bell - currently on maternity leave (Area of responsibility: PhD students)
I am a Senior Lecturer in the Earth Science and Engineering department and have joined the MHAT with a focus on helping PhD students. Ever since I did my PhD I have been interested in lots of different Earth Science topics and enjoy working with a wide range of people; but, I am also very bad at saying no to new opportunities. This means I often get myself into situations where I try to do too much and in the past this has led to stress and anxiety, which has manifest as physical health problems (headaches, rashes, optical migraines- I once went completely blind in my office for 30 mins!). After the optical migraine episode I have made a concerted effort to consider my mental health more in my day to day life. I enjoy reading about the latest research in well-being and I find that being knowledgeable about how the wonderful, but complicated brain works, can help you appreciate and nurture your mental health and stop you bullying yourself when problems do arise!
Cédric M. John (Area of responsibility: ESE Mental Health Champion, All students and staff)
I am a reader in carbonate systems, and have been in the department since 2008. I also have the privilege to be the first chair of the ESE mental health awareness team, and the “Mental Health Champion” for the department. My interest in mental health stems from personal hardship and my experience of leading a research group. Most of us encounter difficult times at some point in our life, and I believe these, when overcome, can help us grow as individuals. The mental toll can be heavy though, especially in a competitive, high-demand environment. Having appropriate support is thus essential to overcome difficulties, and I believe that the work we are doing in the ESE mental health awareness team provides support to other members of ESE and helps create a better, less stressful work environment. My work has led me in all four corners of the world, and I appreciate the challenge and benefits of working in a multicultural environment. I am also fascinated by the link between mental well-being, happiness, and productivity at work, and group dynamics, or how to ensure people work together in harmony.
Alex Whittaker (Area of responsibility: PhD students, members of staff)
I am a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Earth Science and Engineering. I play a big role in supervising PhD students, teaching undergraduates and I have a particular focus on field geology and field teaching. Universities can be very stressful environments for lots of reasons, and I am passionate about making sure that students and staff get the support they need to perform at their best. I’m particularly keen to ensure that mental health on fieldwork, whether for teaching or research, is prioritised, and that field trips are not seen as something that must be endured. I want to champion supportive learning and working environments, whether in college or in the field, which enables everyone to make the most of the opportunities they have.
Pablo Brito Parada (Area of responsibility: Postdoctoral researchers, Fellows)
I am a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Earth Science and Engineering. I believe it is extremely important that mental health best practices are embedded in our departmental culture at all levels, and so I am very happy to contribute to the activities and efforts of the ESE Mental Health Awareness Team. As Postdoc Champion for the department, I am particularly keen to provide support to Postdocs and Fellows, highlight the range of resources that are available, and also to work closely with them to identify and address causes of concern regarding mental health.
Ado Farsi (Area of responsibility: Postdoctoral researchers, Fellows)
I am currently the Postdoctoral and Fellows Representative in the Department of Earth Science and Engineering, as well as a computational mechanics scientist working on a wide range of engineering applications. I joined Imperial College as an international student for my PhD degree in 2013, and since then I have been actively contributing to the interdisciplinary and multicultural life of the College. I joined the ESE Mental Health Awareness Team because of my firsthand experience of the challenges experienced by many working in university research, including myself, and of how they can have a profound impact on our mental health. This has recently been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, making support for mental health all the more essential. I am happy to provide a first point of contact to postdocs and fellows in the department, to empower them to find the best support provided by the College in response to their needs. I am also happy to provide a confidential safe space to discuss and address any mental health or other concerns members of staff might be experiencing.