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A number of MSDO staff members have completed a two-day mental health first-aid training course, run by Mental Health England.

The course teaches people to spot the signs of mental health issues and guide a person towards support. It does not teach people to be therapists or counsellors, but does teach people how to support their peers in the workplace through supportive conversations.

Our Mental Health First Aiders aim to have:

  • an in-depth understanding of mental health and the factors that can affect well-being
  • practical skills to spot the triggers and signs of a range of mental health issues
  • confidence to reassure and support a person in distress using the Mental Health First Aid action plan
  • enhanced interpersonal skills such as non-judgemental listening
  • knowledge to help someone recover their health by guiding them to further support - whether through self-help resources, internal support, or external sources such as their GP
  • confidential conversations as appropriate

Please feel free to get in touch with any of the mental health first aiders

Please note an MHFA will only be available during work hours. They may also not be able to respond immediately but will arrange a time to call or meet up.



Chris Higham against a red mottled background

I have worked for the University for over two decades and have been in the Graduate School (based in the Fleming Suite JR L3) for more than 3 years. I undertook the Mental Health First Aider course to allow me to support those struggling with mental health. As part of my role I oversee the recruitment of and publicity for the MSD graduate Peer Supporters and feel that the wider availability of people who are trained to listen and assist is an incredibly important asset.

When not at work I love cooking, listening to an eclectic selection of music, chatting to my very vocal cat and visiting the gym.

Please feel free to contact by email or Teams


Claire Shingler in front of the BioEscalator logo

I am the Business Manager at the BioEscalator, an incubator for start-up and spin-out companies in the medical sciences. During my University career, I have also worked in research support roles in the Nuffield Department of Medicine and the Department of Oncology. Prior to that, I worked in the private sector following an academic career in biomedical sciences up to postdoc level. During my career to date, I have worked primarily in people management roles with diverse teams and am passionate about advancing equality and diversity and supporting people to achieve their full potential. At the University I have been heavily involved with the Athena Swan initiative and have been a trained Harassment Advisor for several years.

When not at work I enjoy spending time with my husband, teenage children and dogs. I love keeping active and appreciate the benefits of this for both physical and mental wellbeing.

Feel free to contact me by email or via Teams, and we can arrange a convenient time to talk.



Iris Hofmann

I work at the Institute of Developmental & Regenerative Medicine (IDRM), where I am responsible for running the day-to-day operations, ensuring that all administrative processes run most efficiently and effectively. Prior to this, I have worked in the private and charity sector and held various positions in project and programme management. I hold a Master’s degree in Business and Economics and successfully completed a PhD in Business Ethics.

I have trained as a Mental Health First Aider just a few months before the pandemic started and have supported staff with the transition to remote working and the impact this had on working together as a team.

When I am not at work, I enjoy spending time with my family and often find myself running after a toddler who has an abundance of energy. My perspective on mental health has changed since becoming a mother and I have learned that it is important to look after myself especially juggling work and family.  

If you would like to have a chat, just drop me a message on Teams or email me directly



Janice Young

I have worked as a Communications Officer in the Medical Sciences Division for over 4 years, and prior to that in the Department of Experimental Psychology at Oxford. I have a first-class degree in Psychology, which has given me an in-depth understanding of mental health and the factors that can affect wellbeing. I undertook the Mental Health First Aider training as I feel passionately about reducing the stigma associated with mental ill health and would love to make a positive contribution to the wellbeing of others.

I am a single parent of two (adult) children and often provide care for an elderly relative. I am therefore familiar with the pressures of balancing multiple commitments and am especially keen to support anyone facing a similar situation.

Outside of work, I’ll either be reading, walking the dog, tidying my veg beds or dreaming about holidays in the sun.

If you are struggling for whatever reason, please do not hesitate to reach out for a chat. You can contact me by email or via Teams, and we can arrange a convenient time to talk confidentially. 



Telephone counselling service for University staff. The service is free to use and is supported via Care First, members of the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy on behalf of Zurich Insurance, the University's insurers.

Able Futures - Support for Mental Health at Work from ‘Access to Work’, provides support to employees who are experiencing mild to moderate mental health difficulties. The service is entirely anonymous: employees do not need to have spoken to their GP or a manager. 

24/7 Mental Health Helpline for Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire - This NHS service operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week for people who need mental health care, support or advice when their situation is not life threatening. It supports people of all ages including children and older adults.

Togetherall (previously Big White Wall) Togetherall, is an online peer-to-peer support community. The service is free and support is available 24/7 from anywhere via a web browser.  All you need is an active university e-mail address (select “I’m from a University or College” when you register)

Samaritans - Whatever you're going through, a Samaritan will face it with you. Available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Call 116 123

SANEline  - a national out-of-hours mental health helpline offering specialist emotional support, guidance and information to anyone affected by mental illness, including family, friends and carers.  Open every day of the year from 4.30pm to 10.30pm on 0300 304 7000.

Occupational  Health - For further guidance on available online resources, and to find out how the University of Oxford Occupational Health service may be able to help, please visit their website