The Charlie Waller Memorial Trust: Strategically Supporting Student Mental Health in Universities and Colleges
Michael Priestley, SMaRteN Student Team member 2018/2019
This blog was originally delivered as a short talk at The Charlie Waller Memorial Trust Information Evening 2019.
In this blog, I aim to synthesise my different perspectives on student mental health and wellbeing in order to shine a light on some of the great work that the Charlie Waller Memorial Trust are currently delivering to support students at universities and colleges. I am 1.) A current student, with lived experience of mental health difficulties; 2.) A student mental health researcher, both through my PhD and as a member of the SMaRteN student research team; and 3.) A student involvement coordinator and student representative on the Charlie Waller Memorial Trust Universities and College Advisory Board.
With levels of student mental distress having risen sharply in the UK are there lessons we can learn from other countries, to seek to avoid this? That’s what I’m researching, as a member of our project team. I’d welcome any findings on this from fellow researchers.
The Netherlands is where I’ve started, as a recent study found no evidence of an increase in student mental health problems over the last ten years.(1) This probably isn’t surprising as, since the World Happiness report started in 2012, the Netherlands has never finished outside the top seven, whereas the UK has never come higher than 15th.(2)
At Health Action Campaign we are looking to provide fresh perspectives as to why student mental distress has been increasing in the UK and what might be done to reverse this. So, is there anything we might learn from the Dutch?
I am a first year PhD researcher at the University of Bath interested in a digital intervention for self-harm in university students.
The move to university can be a stressful time. It can involve adapting to a new environment, gaining new independence and the associated pressures that this brings, leaving comfortable support networks behind, and new academic stressors. For many, it can also trigger the onset of self-harm, with this being twice as prevalent in university populations than in non-students of the same age. It has also been suggested that self-harm is more prevalent in university populations than in clinical samples, and that rates of self-harm are increasing over time.
We are using this blog to help connect stakeholders across Higher Education interested in student mental health. If you have a project you are working on or an idea you'd like to develop, why not write your own blog post for us?