Worcester professor received honorary doctorate - The Worcester Observer

Worcester professor received honorary doctorate

PROFESSOR Jo Smith OBE, a distinguished campaigner for student suicide prevention, was awarded an honourary doctorate at Middlesex University during a special ceremony on Wednesday, June 26, as part of the institution’s Graduation Week.

Prof Smith, a chartered clinical psychologist based in Worcester, has a significant connection with Middlesex University.

She co-authored and edited a crucial guide with David Malpas, the university’s Director of Student Affairs, to help senior leaders in higher education respond sensitively and promptly to student deaths by suspected suicide.

With a career spanning 35 years in the NHS, primarily in adult mental health, and the past decade in higher education, Prof Smith has collaborated with universities, educational organisations, and families to develop national guidance aimed at preventing student suicides.

Her latest work, co-edited with Dr. Sharon Mallon of the Open University, is the book ‘Preventing and Responding to Student Suicide.’

In her acceptance speech, Prof Smith said: “Be a ‘yes person’ and always be open to opportunities that may arise.

“Don’t let self-doubt or anxiety stop you from pursuing options. When you aim for a horizon, you will find that the horizon keeps moving, so you never actually reach an endpoint.

“The task is to keep moving forward in search of the next horizon.”

Prof Smith’s extensive contributions include serving as the Early Intervention in Psychosis (EIP) Lead for Herefordshire and Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust from 1999 to 2015, and Joint National EIP Programme Lead with the National Institute for Mental Health in England from 2004 to 2010.

For the past seven years, she has been a clinical adviser to the National Clinical Audit of Psychosis for the EIP Audit in England, Wales, and Ireland.

Throughout her career, Prof Smith has played a vital role in developing and implementing national policies related to EIP and Individual Placement and Support (IPS) employment interventions, which aid people with severe and enduring mental illness in finding employment.

In recognition of her impactful work in student suicide prevention, Prof Smith was awarded an OBE in June 2023.

Middlesex University vice-chancellor, Professor Shân Wareing, said: “I will always remember my graduation day, and our students will too. It’s one of those life moments that stays with you.

“I’m very proud to be sharing our students’ experience this week. I’m also delighted to get the opportunity of meeting this year’s recipients of Middlesex University Honorary Degrees and Medals.

“The people have all excelled in their fields of expertise and supported the University and our students.”

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