Academic staff and those in personal tutoring roles are often at the frontline of supporting students’ mental health. Positive support from academic staff has been found to facilitate academic and social integration for students, as well as improving students’ beliefs about their academic abilities. Importantly, poor personal tutoring from academic staff is actually worse than providing no tutoring at all (Yale, 2017).
A recent survey by educations.com reveals that 60% of prospective students deem a university’s mental health services to be a very important factor when deciding where to study. A striking finding is that half of these students did not consider this to be a very important factor before the Covid-19 pandemic (1).
University students are a high-risk group for mental health problems, given that most cases of mental health problems have emerged by the age of 24 (Kessler, Berglund, Demler, Jin, Merikangas, & Walters, 2005; see also Kim-Cohen, Caspi, Moffitt, Harrington, Milne, & Poulton, 2003) and some research suggests that the prevalence of these problems is increasing (Institute for Public Policy and Research [IPPR], 2017).
There’s a lot of focus on the mental health risks for widening participation students. That’s what I’m researching, on behalf of Health Action Campaign. I’d welcome feedback on this from fellow researchers.
Whilst the academic landscape is undoubtedly changing, evidence still suggests that research remains a highly competitive, strenuous and lonely profession. According to Nature, a 2019 study revealed that “more than one-third of respondents (36%) said that they have sought help for anxiety or depression caused by their PhD studies”, a third of which sought this help from places other than their own institution.
The Student Mind’s Key Questions project has identified that students are curious about the relationship between university life and stress. Connor, a member of our student research team, has been exploring this question further, asking if chronic stress overlooked in students because it is assumed that students should be stressed, and it is normal to be stressed.
Have you adapted your teaching practice with student mental health in mind, or have a curriculum that you think might have an impact on student mental health? If so, the Education for Mental Health team would like to hear from you!!
Are drop-out rates in therapy the new “elephant in the room”? No, it’s probably worse; the elephant has been standing there for decades. Drop-out rates in therapies such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), despite being very common, are barely talked about. A meta-analysis of 115 studies found that one in four patients terminates CBT before reaching remission. (This number doesn’t even include those who don’t show up to their first session). Amongst a range of disorders treated with CBT, people with depression are the likeliest to drop out (36.4%).
From the SMaRteN Student Teams
How are you responding to the Covid-19 lockdown? While for some it is a much-appreciated break from the speed and noise of normal life, it brings uncertainty and anxiety to many others. At SMaRteN, the Student Mental Health Research Network, we’ve been thinking about what you can do to look after your mental health.
Originally published on the Student Minds blog, reposted with permission from Student Minds and the author.
Over the coming weeks we will all experience changes to the way we are working and to the environments in which we are working. Many of us may now be facing the prospect of studying from home in preparation for online assessments. For some PGR students, data collection may be disrupted, conferences cancelled, supervision may change in format or frequency. We may not have face to face contact with our peers, or be present in our lecture theatres, labs, offices or schools, and so online networks can be helpful to share our worries, or our strategies for coping, or tips for using technology to stay connected.
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?