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.
My name is Nkasi and I struggled with a mental illness during my undergraduate and postgraduate life; and continue to struggle with depression, anxiety, and pre-menstrual dysphoric disorder as a PhD student.
As well as my battle with mental illness I also often struggle to navigate the varying degrees of racism I face as a black female PhD student. Research in young adults suggests certain personal identities (e.g. identifying as an ethnic minority, female, LGBTQI+) might mean you are more likely to struggle with mental health problems. There is lack of research into whether similar patterns of mental health inequality are present in the UK university student population.
The rise of the zombie academy, the valuing of higher education in future earning potential terms solely and the attainment culture cultivated in the UK education system are creating a toxic environment for both students and staff.
Concerns around the wellbeing and mental health of the student population are well documented. In the 2017 report ‘Not By Degrees’ (pg34) the IPPR comments on the YouGov survey findings. Study was found to be the primary cause of stress among students, this is coupled with pressure to find a high-class degree as ‘Finding a job after university’ is the second highest cause of stress reported by students (“Not by degrees”, 2017).
What is important in therapy? Research study for people who have had Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).
I am a researcher looking for people who have had Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) therapy in the last 2 years to take part in a research project.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is a talking therapy that aims to improve how people feel and reduce distress and mental health difficulties. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy involves helping people challenge and change their patterns of thinking and/or behaviour.
Late childhood to early adulthood is a vulnerable period for the onset of long-term physical and mental health conditions. It is also a period of increased risk for the development of harmful health behaviours. In addition, this period is marked by significant life changes. These include the transition from child and adolescent to adult health services, moving out of home for the first time, and going to university or beginning employment. It is for these reasons that we, at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience at King’s College London, have developed a project dedicated to improving the health of young people.
The University of Worcester 'Suicide Safer Project' launched a HE Student Suicide Prevention Community of Practice (CoP) hosted at University of Worcester Arena last Thursday September 26th 2019. A CoP acts as a knowledge exchange and development hub bringing together people with a shared interest in preventing student suicide to provide an opportunity to learn together and from each other. Its aims are to develop and support practice, showcase and drive innovation and address sector challenges through collaboration. The CoP is designed to encourage participants to connect, seek support and advice, learn from each other and share best practice, as well as hearing about training, research, policy and practice developments to help grow suicide prevention practice development across HE institutions.
Unified: a digital solution to reduce referral time towards mental health services in higher education institutions
My research for the past year has been focused on the student support services at Universities across the UK, and the systems they operate upon. Specifically, I have been researching the waiting times between students applying for help, and their first face-to-face appointment. The original focus of my research was in to the accessibility of services, and the ease of application. I have co-founded a student health company called Unified, having been accepted on to We Are Nova’s start up school. I am developing a digital solution which higher education institutions can implement, to reduce the processing and referral time for services which are under increasingly high demand on a national scale
With rising attrition and declining student mental health, peer support is a growing area of interest for many higher education institutions. Despite being a readily used term, its meaning differs according to the institution running the programme, making it difficult to share best practice in the sector. The aim of this work is to create a shared language and understanding of peer support so that universities can improve their peer support structures in a consistent and strategic way.
Many factors suggested as causing student mental distress (like the transition from home/school to university) have been true for generations of students, so are unlikely to explain why reported distress has increased.
That’s why, in our research, we’re exploring what has changed in young people’s lives that might explain the increase. We’re focusing in particular on what is happening to young people before they go to university – and would welcome any feedback on this from fellow researchers.
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?