We are excited to be a part of the Student Mental Health Partnerships project! As a Student Fellow, I have been really enjoying working closely with Kirsty, our research coordinator. Our student co-production idea plays a small part in the much wider overall Student Mental Health Partnerships project, funded by Office for Students and led by the University of the West of England (UWE). These partnerships have emerged in response to the fivefold increase in students declaring their mental health concerns over recent years. The aim of this project is to develop partnerships between seven universities and the NHS for students mental health.
Our team are evaluating these local partnerships to develop a set of recommendations based on examples of best practice and will be incorporating students’ experiences, thoughts and constructive criticism throughout. In order to tackle these challenges, Co-Production Activities will be implemented to allow both the service users and non-service users the opportunity to offer their perspectives on themes relating to partnership development. Currently, we are proposing to run Group Discussions and Problem Solving Booths across at each of our respective universities.
Our first round of group discussions will zoom into students’ experiences of university or NHS services to identify aspects of good practice and suggestions of improvements. Our second round of group discussion will aim to gain insight into the experiences of student groups who may be underrepresented in current research or mental health services. Examples include students who identify as Black, Asian or from ethnic minorities, international or postgraduate students, male students, or those from the LGBTQ+ community.
Each of our Co-Production Activities will be led by a student representative from each of our partner universities. We appreciate that there will be discrepancies among the student demographics and support services of each institution and believe that each representative will offer a unique insight and understanding into the specific contextual variations of their university. We hope this will help to broaden our understanding of students’ access and thoughts of the current mental health services on offer, and experiences of navigating support. Our intention is to conduct these sessions via an online platform to maximise participation and overcome practical barriers given the current pandemic.
Problem Solving Booths (PSB)
This idea is inspired by the ongoing work of Student Minds. Our aim is to establish a public, yet informal setting to allow students the space and opportunity to talk freely about their thoughts on our evaluation project. Towards the end of the project, a booth will be set up at two pilot universities with facilitators encouraging passers-by to sit down and participate. Students will be asked a short set of questions to initiate a two-way dialogue where the facilitator can record their ideas on a questionnaire form. Once the facilitators have collated the feedback from the PSBs, the ideas which arise from the conversations will be fed into the recommendations for forming partnerships between services.
Ultimately, my aspiration is to create a framework which can be used to improve services on a practical level, in line with what students both want and need.
If you would like to get involved or hear more about our work, then feel free to contact us. We are currently looking to work with students who have accessed university or NHS mental health services and would like to participate in our group discussions at UCL, Imperial College London, The University of Sheffield, and The University of Liverpool.
Email us, we’d love to hear from you!
Hannah Chow, Student Fellow at UCL: firstname.lastname@example.org
Kirsty Nisbet, Research Coordinator at UCL: email@example.com
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?