Student support in the School of ACT

As professionals and pre-professionals working and studying in the disciplines of arts and creative technologies, it's important to be aware of how your activities can affect you physically, psychologically, socially, and financially. 

Through a variety of educational opportunities we can help you learn how to promote your health, wellness, and performance. We'll also help you find support for physical and mental health concerns arising from your study or work activities.

Contact us

If you’d like to make a suggestion for how we can improve health and wellness for those studying or working in the School of ACT please get in touch.

Dr Naomi Norton
Musicians' Health and Wellness Coordinator

How can I access support? 

  • You can complete our Open Door and Disability online referral form. All referrals are checked daily and will be assigned to either a Practitioner or a Student Wellbeing Officer (SWO) depending on your situation.
  • Alternatively, you can ask any member of the staff in your department to pass your details directly to us.

Regardless, we aim to contact you within two working days to arrange a meeting. If you are in crisis now find help here, or please call 999 for emergency services or 01904 32 3333 for trained security services if you are on campus.

What’s the difference between SWOs and an Open Door Practitioner?

Open Door Practitioners are registered/accredited mental health practitioners and are able to provide specialist support for mental health difficulties. SWOs can offer short-term support for general wellbeing issues relating to university life. They're part of the Open Door Team but work alongside academic and support staff. 

The SWOs are not mental health practitioners, but they'll listen to your concerns, talk through your options and may direct you to specialist services across the university as well as locally. You can talk to SWOs about academic and personal issues. Perhaps you’re struggling with motivation, struggling with time management, missing home or feeling isolated.  You may be experiencing friendship/relationship issues or feeling anxious about your workload. Talking to somebody who can listen and give a different, independent perspective can be helpful. 

NOTE: At present there is no SWO assigned to work with the School of ACT: please contact Kate Rose, our Open Door practitioner, using the referral form linked above.

Most staff in the School of ACT have completed a half-day session on Mental Health First Aid or ‘Responding to Students in Distress’. In addition, staff listed below have completed the full two-day course equipping them as Mental Health First Aiders:

Alternatively, if you'd like to speak to someone from outside the School who is qualified as a Mental Health First Aider you could look at the Mental Health First Contact Network.

Julie Parker is an ILM Level 7 equivalent Accredited Coach (with Distinction) and qualified teacher of the Alexander Technique with over 27 years’ experience. She's taken the University of York Mental Health First Aid short course. Julie worked for three years as part of primary healthcare in the NHS and now works with students at the University.

Making music is a matter of the whole person - body, mind, and emotions. When those are in harmony, they contribute to performing with ease, flow and joy. When any are out of kilter, it disrupts the entire process. There's a myriad of stimuli that can disrupt optimal performance - both in our music and everyday life.

Part of the support we offer is a free Alexander Technique session with Julie Parker to help you clarify your goals and uncover the ways of thinking and acting which prevent optimal performance and enjoyment of your music making. Due to budgetary constraints, ongoing sessions cannot be covered by the School of Arts and Creative Technology, but are subsidised. 

To take advantage of your free session, please contact Julie on 07841 712942 or email

Students from all programmes can volunteer to be advocates within the School to support the health and wellness of those that they study and work with. Advocates are not qualified mental health practitioners but they are always happy to  listen, help, and signpost further options, whether you just need a chat or have bigger concerns. 

Our undergraduate advocate for the 2023-24 academic year is Ben Staniforth and our postgraduate advocate for the 2023-24 academic year is Rosie Lynch. 

If you would like to volunteer as an advocate please get in touch with Naomi (

Across courses and modules, staff are available to provide informal support and formal tutorials during the year. Additionally, there are specified sessions within curriculum time ensuring students can access information about promoting health and wellness for themselves and those that they study or work with. 

Below is a sample of sessions that have been on offer within Music at York programmes:

  • Undergraduate 20-credit module entitled ‘Musicians’ Health and Wellness’ (module leader: Dr Naomi Norton): see the module catalogue for more information.
  • Compulsory health and wellness sessions for first-year music students as part of the Creative and Professional Practice (CAPP 1) module.
  • Health and wellness-focused lectures and seminars included in the MA Music Education, MA Piano and Vocal Studies, MA Community Music, and MA Music Psychology programmes. 
  • IPC pre-sessional guest lecture for students entitled ‘Studying (Music) Healthily’ to introduce students to the support on offer within the School and University more broadly.
  • Compulsory studio induction for users of the School of Arts and Creative Technologies' studios, including basic coverage of physiology and anatomy of the human auditory system, and audiology and guidance on other aspects of safe studio working (e.g. electrical safety and trip hazards).

Contact us

If you’d like to make a suggestion for how we can improve health and wellness for those studying or working in the School of ACT please get in touch.

Dr Naomi Norton
Musicians' Health and Wellness Coordinator