'Prioritising student mental health is non-negotiable’ - Sam Gyimah, UK Universities minister
In the highest levels of government, university boardrooms, and across every broadsheet and tabloid, student mental health has arguably become the biggest issue facing universities today. As a new PhD researcher investigating student wellbeing, that’s a challenging context. There are lots of unknowns.
Bristol University has commissioned my scholarship, with Professor David Gunnell (self-harm and suicide), Dr Claire Haworth (population mental health data), and Dr Judi Kidger (mental health in education) at the helm. When it comes to supporting the wellbeing and mental health of its student population, Bristol is not alone in the issues it faces. The BBC recently published data from 162 (of a total of 163) UK universities, showing a 53% increase in the overall numbers of students seeking help in the last five years.
Dr Michael Fay, Lecturer in Law, Keele University (email@example.com)
& Dr Yvonne Skipper, Lecturer in Psychology, Keele University (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Lucy Nicola Cooper, Doctoral Researcher in Psychology, Sheffield Hallam University, L.N.Cooper@shu.ac.uk
Many staff members at universities are likely to have come across the "Perfectionist Student", or even, the "Procrastinating Student"; too fearful to start or submit work they do not believe is "good enough" because it is not quite "perfect". These students frequently struggle with high levels of worry and anxiety and are repeatedly failing to reach their potential because of their over-reliance on achieving their high standards and maladaptive coping strategies.
As a counsellor and mental health mentor with almost 10 years' experience supporting students in Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), I have frequently come across the "perfectionist student" and their excessive use of worry and procrastination that manifests into debilitating anxiety and often hampered academic achievement. It is disheartening to see students with such potential and ambition, struggle so much at university due to the pressures they are facing. My experience in supporting students is what drove my interest to conduct my PhD at Sheffield Hallam University, supervised by Professor Ann Macaskill and Dr David Reynolds; establishing the incidence of perfectionism, worry and anxiety in students, and effective interventions.
Brad Woolridge, PhD Student, Cardiff Met
The overall aim of my PhD study is to develop understanding of the demands faced by undergraduate students at Cardiff Metropolitan University, discover what resources are available to support such students, to carry-out interventions based on demands articulated, and subsequently inform future provision to support students’ wellbeing during their studies.
Dr Sophie Francoise Valeix, PhD, University of Sussex
While studying veterinary medicine in France, I develop a strong interest for medical anthropology with an understanding that health and disease of humans and other animals are constructed, debated and politicised notions. This is why, after my training as a veterinarian epidemiologist, I explored further the social dimensions of global public health issues and interventions through a project in Thailand researching village-based social networks around poultry disease surveillance. I then worked on worldwide knowledge flows in collaborative research on Nipah virus (virus transmitted to people by bats) for the dissertation of my Masters degree in Science Policy.
I recently finished my doctorate at the Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex, and should graduate in January 2019. My doctoral research was an ethnographic study of the integration of public health professionals into design of national health policies and services in Ghana with a focus on veterinarians and zoonotic diseases. In my thesis, I examine the veterinary culture and norms through vets’ perspectives, daily practices in local contexts and social networks, and confront these to the international call for collaboration between vets, other medical as well as non-medical professions. I argue that professional cultures influence the potential of interventions on global public health issues in complex ways.
Mental health and academia
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?